Hmm, Maybe a Scoreboard Wasn’t Quite What This Donor Thought He Was Funding

grassHere’s one you can file under, “Complying With the Letter of the Law Won’t Necessarily Keep You Out of Trouble.”

The University of New Hampshire seems to have been, legally speaking, properly handling a testamentary donation when it used one fourth of the $4 million that thrifty library cataloguer Robert Morin saved and left to the college for–are you ready?–a football scoreboard.

Mr. Morin had, it appears true, made a mostly unrestricted gift. By law, a nonprofit that receives such a gift must simply put it toward purposes that it believes to be appropriate within its mission. Sports is unquestionably part of a university’s mission (as opposed to, say, sending all the board members to Vegas for a weekend’s entertainment).

But does such a gift honor the donor’s legacy and convey a positive message to possible future donors? Many say not.

The importance of books and the library to Mr. Morin is revealed by the fact that, of his large gift, he earmarked $100,000 for the library where he worked for nearly 50 years.

The library was, according to reports, Mr. Morin’s “whole life;” he was so devoted to books that he systematically read nearly every one ever published in the United States. He also liked to sit outside the library smoking a pipe and chatting with students.

Perhaps if he’d been rolling in dough, the university’s use of his life savings would be less subject to question. But this is a man who reportedly lived humbly, drove an old Plymouth, and subsisted on frozen dinners.

In the end, it comes down to a public relations matter. In its press release announcing the gift, the university tried to allay criticism by saying, in essence, “He liked football, too!”

Other potential donors might not be so convinced–and even if they make gifts to the college, they might place more restrictions on them. Such restrictions can be a pain to deal with, particularly after years pass and the recipient’s programs and activities change, as described in Nonprofit Gifts: When Strings Are Attached.

New Edition of “Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits” Hits the Shelves!

effn5_1_1Nolo’s all-around guide to raising money for small to mid-size charitable organization has been a success since it was first published, not only becoming a resource for not nonprofit staff, but used at many universities to teach fundraising principles.

We’re please to announce that the book has just been released in its fifth edition.

Like every Nolo book, we take pains to update and freshen it up before issuing a new version. This latest one features:

  • Detailed new advice on running a crowdfunding campaign, including how to choose the best crowdfunding platform.
  • New stories from fundraising experts, such as Ligia Peña’s description of how to hold a donor-appreciation event, and John McArdle’s discussion of how to take donors’ personalities and wishes into account when crafting appeals.
  • New sample letters and marketing materials.

Check it out, along with Nolo’s other publications on starting and running nonprofit organizations.

New York Enacts New Boating-While-Intoxicated Legislation

By John McCurley

motorboat

On August 16, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Tiffany Heitkamp’s Law. The new legislation—which takes effect November 1, 2016—increases the boating-while-intoxicated (BWI) penalties for most offenders with prior drunk-driving convictions.

In New York, anyone with a prior offense who’s convicted of either BWI or DWI is subject to greater penalties. But whether the prior offense was a BWI or a DWI can make a big difference.

Under current New York law, a BWI conviction is punished as a repeat offense only if the prior conviction was also for BWI. So, even if a boater has three prior DWIs—but no prior BWIs—a BWI conviction will be considered first offense.

Once Tiffany Heitkamp’s Law goes into effect, a DWI will count as a prior offense when someone is being sentenced for BWI. For instance, if a BWI offender has been convicted twice of DWI in the past three years, the current BWI will be punished as a third offense.

Interestingly, the new law doesn’t go the other way: It doesn’t make BWI offenses count as priors for purposes of sentencing DWI offenders. In other words, a first-time DWI offender with multiple BWI priors will still be sentenced as a first offender.

Adult Kid Living at Home? You’re Not Alone, And It’s Not Forever

Paper house attached to yellow blank price tag on blue background

Pricey rental markets, low housing inventory and high home costs, crushing student debt loads, and difficulty finding jobs are adding up to an unmistakable U.S. trend: kids moving back in with mom and dad after graduating from a college or university.

If you live in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Florida, or California, the odds of having a child living at home are especially high, according to an August 18, 2016 analysis from Stateline.

Feel better now that you know it’s not just your kid? Great. But if you’re still hoping that the situation doesn’t last forever, you might want to point junior to a couple of Nolo’s free online articles:

Oops, yes, that latter one means your son or daughter may be coming to you requesting help with the down payment or more. But you wouldn’t be alone in that, either–it’s the only way that many young people today can afford to break into the real estate market.

If providing such help is financially impossible, here’s another prospect for you to consider: Do I Need a Building Permit to Construct a Tiny House in My Backyard? It could be a way to put some space between you and your returnee!

California Passes Law Legitimizing Motorcycle Lane Splitting

By John McCurley

LaneSplitter1

 

Most California drivers have had the experience of sitting in freeway traffic when a motorcycle flies past, squeezing between grid-locked cars—a practice called “lane splitting.” Opinions differ on whether lane splitting should be allowed. Some motorists—mostly those who drive cars—believe that lane splitting is too dangerous and should be banned. Motorcyclists, on the other hand, generally think that lane splitting can be done safely and ought to be legal. But what’s the law in California?

Until just recently, California law was vague on the legality of motorcycle lane splitting. California Vehicle Code Section 21658—the only law on the books that would arguably cover lane splitting—says that when a roadway is divided into two or more lanes going in the same direction, all vehicles must be driven “as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane.” The California Highway Patrol (CHP) interpreted this law as neither authorizing nor prohibiting lane splitting.

However, on August 19, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51). The legislation will add Section 21658.1 to the California Vehicle Code, with an effective date of January 2, 2017. The new law defines “lane splitting” as driving a motorcycle “between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” Interestingly, the law doesn’t specifically say what’s permitted, but instead authorizes the CHP to create “educational guidelines” related to lane splitting safety. (Cal. Veh. Code § 21658.1.)

The CHP has yet to issue guidelines, but past CHP publications might give some indication of what’s to come. Previously, the CHP published guidelines (which they later retracted) that included advisements against motorcycle lane splitting when:

  • traveling more than ten miles per hour faster than the flow of traffic
  • traveling 40 miles per hour or faster, or
  • the flow of traffic is 30 miles per hour or faster.

The prior guidelines also explained that only riders who are experienced and competent enough should attempt lane splitting.

Though there’s still some uncertainly about the details of the new legislation, AB 51 makes California the first state to formally approve motorcycle lane splitting. It remains to be seen whether other states will follow California’s example.