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AB2855 is a very bad bill for nonprofits.


Zombie bill AB2855 in the California assembly refuses to die, despite its potential to cause an outbreak of unnecessary costs and burdens.

The indispensible Gene Takagi has a thorough analysis and roundup of the opposition here :

Short version:  AB2855, proposed by Democratic assembly member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), just survived a committee vote to advance to the full California Assembly. If the bill becomes law, it will require each and every nonprofit that fundraises in California to add a so-called ‘warning label’ to any fundraising or fundraising-related document that it distributes linking back to the CA Attorney General’s website. This may not sound like a big deal, but think about how many fundraising documents nonprofits put out, and the burden of updating each one. Calnonprofits has a short, incomplete list:

“…[S]igns on coin collection jars, private letters to individual donors, billboards and other large-scale outdoor advertisements, flyers posted in laundromats, neighborhood association newsletters, to name just a few.”

Furthermore, there are no controls in place as to what could be on the Attorney General’s site. As Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, notes: “Such legislative  language puts nonprofits at the mercy of an elected partisan’s changing views on what’s “appropriate” on such things as overhead, compensation, and advocacy – as well as which charitable causes are worthy.” [emphasis ours]

Worse yet, there are serious Constitutional issues around AB2855; the potential lack of compelling governmental interest poses a serious freedom of speech question. But that does not mean that we can rely on state or federal courts to halt the bill before it becomes law.  

Finally, there is absolutely no need for this bill. Nonprofits are already carefully regulated by the Federal Government, the IRS and the California state government. This bill will impose an expensive and pointless burden on every California nonprofit of every political stripe.

It’s important to note that Gene Takagi almost always uses measured, neutral language to describe events. Pay attention to how he describes this bill:

AB 2855 is a dangerous bill that threatens nonprofits raising funds in California and reflects several Assemblymembers’ lack of understanding of the nonprofit sector’s work… If this bill passes, it will rank among the worst laws in the country in its characterization and treatment of nonprofits.” [emphasis ours]

Dangerous. Among the worst in the country.

Bergman and Allderdice rarely recommends direct legislative action, but this is a nonpartisan issue that will affect every nonprofit in California if it’s passed.

Please take the time to review Gene’s analysis . If you agree with it and live in California, take ten minutes to do the following:

1)  Call Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, chair of the appropriations committee  at (916) 319-2080 to let her know you oppose AB2855 because it will harm nonprofits; and

2) Contact your own Assembly Member with the same message. Click here ( to find out how to contact your Assembly Member.

With your help, we can stop this burdensome, unnecessary, and dangerous bill before it gets any further.



Friday Five: February 26, 2016

Friday Five: Five Useful Articles for February 26, 2016

It’s been an eventful February in the nonprofit world—the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, ongoing laws being proposed and passed in state legislatures, and, of course, the ever-closer April 15 deadline for annual tax filings.

Here are five links to help you through the cold (Okay, cold for those of you in the northern half of the country. We live in L.A. We’re only dimly aware of this thing called “weather”):

• The inimitable Gene Takagi at NEO law group has a set of 5 helpful fundraising tips for nonprofit organizations:

• The conservative blog The Federalist highlights some potential problems with Donald Trump’s veterans charity donations:

• The Nonprofit Quarterly is not impressed with Facebook’s new “Facebook for Nonprofits” site. (ED—One small disagreement w/ Nonprofit Quarterly: based on personal experience, some nonprofit orgs are not up to date with Facebook pages, and will probably find the page useful—G.M.)

• JDSupra Business Advisor illuminates the additional scrutiny that Congress is bringing to colleges’ large endowment funds:

• Finally, the creators of thatswhatshesaid, a new one-woman show which extensively quotes other recent plays, are duking it out with play publisher Samuel French over fair use Arts administrator Howard Sherman has an interesting and balanced look at the case:

Written by Erin Pike and Courtney Meaker, thatswhatshesaid, critiques the female character descriptions in the ten most produced plays of 2015, but it’s constructed entirely from quotations from those ten plays, and used without the playwrights’ permission. * Samuel French sent a cease-and-desist letter; the actress and director are fighting back.

Got non-profit questions? Send them our way at, or call us at (213) -736-5101. And remember to follow us on twitter @bergmanalldlaw for more updates!


*The concept of fair use allows a creator to quote other works for purposes of ‘criticism,’ but there isn’t a whole lot of straightforward precedent to rely on in general, and particularly with this case.