PBPO publishes periodic Pro Bono Brief: Nonprofit Legal News newsletters to alert nonprofit leaders and volunteers to pertinent legal issues.


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Retirement Benefits for Non-Profits: Keys to Structuring and Maintaining a 403(b) Plan

January 2020

Non-profit organizations constantly compete to attract and retain talented employees, and retirement plans are one tool that can be used to win that competition. While non-profits can sponsor other types of plans, such as 401(k) plans, the most common type for them to sponsor is a 403(b) plan.  A 403(b) plan can be set up only for employees to make deferrals or for the employer to contribute as well.  This article discusses several topics that we see non-profits struggle with understanding when creating or administering their 403(b) plans, and discusses a restatement opportunity deadline of March 31, 2020. Read the full article.

Ohio Non-Profits Need to be Proactive in Addressing 2020 Minimum Wage Increase

December 2019

Starting January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in Ohio will increase to $8.70/hour. The best way for non-profits to minimize any impact on services while also remaining compliant with wage and hour laws is to be proactive about the upcoming minimum wage hike and take the steps outlined in the Pro Bono Brief. Read the full article.

Year-End Giving: Receiving and Acknowledging Donations

November 2019

Do you receive contributions of $250 or more?


Have you provided an event ticket, dinner, or other goods or services in return for a donation?


Do you accept non-monetary items (such as cars, property, stock)?


Do your volunteers incur expenses while donating their services to you?


Our hope for our nonprofit clients is that these holiday months bring in many charitable donations to support your missions. Now is also a great time for you to ensure you are aware of and following Internal Revenue Service requirements regarding written acknowledgements to your donors.

This article highlights best practices and information on IRS requirements for acknowledging monetary and other types of donations, as well as other important considerations for staying compliant. Read the full article.

DOL Overtime Rule: New Minimum Salary Level for Exempt Employees

October 2019

Employers, are you ready for the new overtime rule?  The minimum salary for exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act is increasing to $35,568 effective January 1, 2020 pursuant to the new rule issued by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) on September 24, 2019.  Organizations that are covered by the FLSA and have employees classified as exempt from overtime who are not currently making at least $35,568 in salary per year should begin planning for the changes necessary to maintain exempt status, or be prepared to start paying those newly non-exempt employees overtime beginning on the effective date.  The DOL anticipates that approximately 1.3 million workers will now be eligible for overtime pay as a result of the higher minimum salary requirement. Read the full article.

Contracting Tips for Nonprofit Organizations: Practical Tips for Non-Attorneys

August 2019

For most nonprofit organizations, it is no surprise that every dollar counts, even when it comes to budgeting for legal review of a contract.  Even with the assistance of organizations like PBPO and their team of volunteer attorneys, it is often a practical impossibility for nonprofit organizations to obtain legal assistance for every contract that emerges during an ordinary course of business. The goal of this article is to highlight a few notable areas of contracting for those with or without a legal background to keep in mind when entering into a new contract on behalf of a nonprofit organization. Read the full article.

City of Cincinnati Passes Ordinance Prohibiting Salary Inquiry and Use

May 2019

The City of Cincinnati has become the latest jurisdiction to adopt an ordinance prohibiting employers from asking about or relying on the prior salary history of prospective employees in setting starting pay. The salary history ban passed March 13, 2019 and goes into effect on March 13, 2020. Nonprofit employers located in the City of Cincinnati and employing at least 15 employees within the City should take steps now to review and update their employment applications and hiring practices to comply with the new law. Read the full article.

DOL Proposes New Salary Threshold for FLSA’s Overtime Exemptions

March 2019

On March 7, the Department of Labor released its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that focuses on updating the minimum salary requirement for the Fair Labor Standard Act’s white collar exemptions.

Key Notes:

•          “White collar” exemptions’ threshold to increase from $455/week ($23,660/year equivalent) to $679/week ($35,308/year equivalent).

•          Expected effective date in January 2020.

•          No changes to standard duties test.

Read the full article.

When Donor-Imposed Gift Restrictions Outlive Their Purpose, Ohio Charities May Have a Way Out

February 2019

For many charitable institutions, accepting gifts subject to certain donor-imposed restrictions is a normal course of business. While unrestricted gifts are generally preferred by charities, gift restrictions can be a good way to assure donors that their contribution will not be used on projects beyond the donor’s specific intent.


But what about those restrictions that have outlived their purpose or failed to evolve with the times? This is particularly common for gifts made many years or decades ago where the restriction is the only thing that has not changed. Fortunately, when certain situations arise, Ohio law affords charities the opportunity to release or modify the restriction under certain conditions. This article outlines three different opportunities available to Ohio charities to address this issue. Read the full article

Employers Should be Aware of New Forms for Background Check Compliance

October 2018

Due to recent federal regulation, employers must follow new disclosure procedures before performing background checks. Effective September 21, 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued updated model disclosure forms mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The amended “Summary of Your Rights” form contains additional explanation of applicant-consumer’s rights. 

Read the full article.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Key Considerations for Separation Agreements and Employee Departures

September 2018


Terminating an employee is possibly one of the most uncomfortable aspects of employment law. Even if an employee has clearly been under-performing, causing problems, or violating policies, employers often struggle with how to let an employee go: What do you say? How do you say it? When is the right time? What documents do I use?

Read the full article.

Transportation and Parking Benefits: New Liability for Tax-Exempt Employers

July 2018

Do you provide free parking to your employees? Or allow your employees to purchase parking or Metro

bus passes through a pre-tax deduction? If you do, under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted last

December, your organization may now need to pay additional taxes effective January 2018.

Read the full article.

Small Business HRAs: An Employee Health Care Solution

May 2018


In December 2016,  President Obama signed the “Cures Act” to give small businesses and nonprofits a “new” option for providing health care to employees. The Cures Act restored some of the utility of stand-alone HRAs by exempting small employers from some requirements of the ACA. The new “Small Business HRA” allows employers with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees to provide tax-free contributions to employees to reimburse them for qualified health care expenses. Read the full article.

Key Considerations for Employee Handbooks

February 2018

Does your organization have an employee handbook?  There's more to it than just having one in place.  Employee handbooks only work if employees and managers know what the policies are and effectively enforce them.

This Pro Bono Brief outlines best practices for the use of employee handbooks, including why it may be time for your organization to consider developing one!

Read the full article.

Year-End Giving: Receiving and Acknowledging Donations

December 2017

Do you receive contributions of $250 or more? Have you provided an event ticket, dinner, or other goods or services in return for a donation? Do you accept non-monetary items (such as cars, property, or stock)? Do your volunteers incur expenses while donating their services to you? Our hope for our nonprofit clients is that these holiday months bring many charitable donations to support your missions. Now is also a great time for you to ensure you are aware of and following the Internal Revenue Service requirements regarding written acknowledgement to donors. 

Read the full article.

Employment Update:  New Form I-9 Required Starting September 19th

September 2017

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires every employer to complete and retain Form I-9 when hiring a new employee.  USCIS released a new version of Form I-9 in July 2017, replacing the previous revision issued in November 2016.  The new Form I-9 includes small updates to the instructions and a reorganization of certain sections. 

Read the full article.

Understanding CAN-SPAM: Key Considerations for Nonprofits

June 2017

Does your organization send emails to your mailing list asking recipients to register for your upcoming programs? Does it email invitations to fundraisers or requests for volunteers?  If so, like most nonprofits, you are subject to certain notice and opt-out rules for these types of emails. While the steps to follow the law are rather straightforward, the penalty for non-compliance is steep—up to approximately $40,000 per email.  Read the article Understanding CAN-SPAM: Key Considerations for Nonprofits, in which we discuss the rules, detail how to stay compliant, and provide additional resources.

Read the full article.

The Fiduciary Responsibilities of Your Board: Starting the New Year on the Right Track

January 2017


Strong organizations start with strong leadership, and board members play a vital role in nonprofits by sharing their expertise, supporting the mission, and ensuring the sustainability of the organization.

Nonprofits often have ideas of the responsibilities they would like their boards to undertake, but did you know that there are certain things board members must do? These requirements apply even when the organization is a small, community-based nonprofit. And, failure to meet these requirements can potentially lead to civil and even criminal penalties for board members.
Read the full article.

Identify and Reduce Employment Law Risk in 2016
March 2016
If you have employees, you have employment risks.  As you head into spring, take some time to consider the following four questions.
Read article.

Frequently Asked Questions about Trademarks and Service Marks

Revised November 2009
This article describes how trademarks and service marks can protect a nonprofit organization's right to use a particular name or logo. It also outlines the process of applying for and maintaining trademark and service mark registration.  Reprinted with permission of Pro Bono Partnership, Inc.  
Read article.
Auditing the Nonprofit Website
Revised December 2010
This article explains why a nonprofit's website should be reviewed by a lawyer and provides important advice for any nonprofit that hosts a website. Reprinted with permission of Pro Bono Partnership, Inc.  
Read article.


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