Nonprofit Organizations Law


Welcome to LawShelf’s video-course on the law of nonprofit organizations. This course discusses the purposes, formation procedures and governance rules of nonprofits. This is an intermediate level course, and it is recommended that the viewer come in with some knowledge of business organizations law or having taken LawShelf’s video-course on that subject.

The course starts with explanations of the landscapes under which nonprofits operate and the key distinctions between non-profit and for-profit organizations. Module 1 also discusses various types of nonprofits, including charitable organizations, labor unions and trade associations.

Module 2 segues to the formation of nonprofits. It focuses on the choice of a business form that parallels the choice faced by for-profits. We’ll then discuss the steps of formation and the requirements under state law, again contrasting those of for-profits. The module also covers the important steps that nonprofits must take to secure and maintain tax-exempt status, a key goal of many nonprofits.

Module 3 surveys state and federal laws that regulate nonprofits, including the models acts relevant to these organizations. We’ll focus on nondiscrimination and harassment rules and on corporate regulations that apply to nonprofits. Finally, the module looks at education, election and lobbying rules that are particularly relevant to nonprofits.       

Module 4 transitions to governance rules. We’ll look at liability of the organization and of the directors and officers. We’ll also focus on the fiduciary duties owed by the stakeholders to the organization’s members and to the public. We’ll also cover the “best judgment rule,” which protects decision makers, much like the “business judgment rule” does for for-profit managers.

The last module then looks at the rights and powers of the managers of the nonprofit. It focuses on their powers to make changes, dissolve the organization, inspect its records and the limitations on all of these. We’ll also focus on the right of indemnification, by which directors can be reimbursed for expenses incurred on behalf of the organization.

When you complete this course, you should understand the structure and management of nonprofits and the most important distinctions between non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.


Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations - Module 1 of 5


Incorporation and Dissolution of Nonprofits - Module 2 of 5


Statutes and Regulations - Module 3 of 5


Governance of Nonprofit Organizations - Module 4 of 5


Powers of Directors and Officers - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.