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Oregon Nonprofits and the Law

Law librarians get all sorts of questions about nonprofit organizations. We get questions from nonprofit board members, donors, lawyers hired by nonprofits, and from people who want to set up nonprofits.
The biggest mistake people often make is assuming that creating and running a nonprofit is easy – or should be.  It’s not and, arguably, it shouldn’t be.  Nonprofits “redistribute the wealth” the same way any business or family head of household does and should be held to the same standards.
1) The best place to begin your nonprofit research is the Nonprofit Association of Oregon  (NAO) (formerly known as TACS) and their the excellent Oregon nonprofit corporation handbook, which is the place to begin for any and all Oregon nonprofit questions.  (Most Oregon public libraries have the handbook.)
2) If your nonprofit questions are about tax law, exempt status, incorporation, privacy, public records, liability, or similarly important legal (and financial) issues, I recommend you also check with a lawyer to make sure you are complying with all applicable laws.
The Oregon State Bar has an Information and Referral Service and has a toll free number to call to get names of attorneys who specialize in nonprofit (and related) areas of law.  Call their referral service at 503-684-3763 or 1-800-452-7636.
3) The Oregon Department of Justice oversees public records matters and charitable organizations.
5) Hands On Greater Portland is a great place for people and nonprofit organizations to look for volunteers and volunteering opportunities.
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