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Compliance Concerns in the Non-profit World

Matt Kelly | April 16, 2012

It was a quiet morning last week when the phone rang. I answered.

“Hey, it's me!” said the voice on the other end of the line. He was one of my spies in the nonprofit world, the head of internal audit at a nationally known charity—a group that holds fund-raising walks all the time, and is no stranger to the occasional bout of bad publicity. “You guys need to write more ethics and compliance stuff for us on the charity side!”

Well, I asked, what exactly are you worried about? You don't have the Sarbanes-Oxley Act weighing over your head. You have no shareholders threatening proxy fights, or Securities and Exchange Commission probes into funny accounting metrics or quarterly financial statements. In fact, I said, I don't recall the Justice Department ever cracking down on a charity for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the False Claims Act, or anything like that. Sounds to me like ethics and compliance professionals on the nonprofit side have a much...

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