Book Review | Nonprofit Law & Governance for Dummies

While I’m no dummy when it comes to nonprofit governance, I recently picked up a copy of Nonprofit Law and Governance for Dummies (by Jill Gilbert Welytok and Daniel S. Welytok) to see if it could teach this old dog some new tricks. Although very generalized, there are some great tips and tidbits that even I wasn't aware of. From stakeholders and incorporation to obtaining tax-exempt status, this work maintains a focus on jump-starting an organization. This book covers a wide array of structures and nonprofit models, as well as regulatory influences over the public sector.

I was pleasantly surprised with the features of this book in comparison to other nonprofit texts, and here are my five favorite features of Nonprofit Law and Governance for Dummies.

  1. Price – this book is quite cheap on amazon, ebay, and other online retailers. Compared to some of my pricey nonprofit textbooks, this book offers a big bang for your buck.
  2. Subdivision of Content – If you’re like me, you’re a busy person who may not have time to sit down and read an entire chapter at a time. Nonprofit Law and Governance has done an excellent job of breaking down chapters and subject matter so that even if you only have a few moments, you can easily knock out a page or two and learn something new.
  3. Definition – No need to use google as a reference or flip back and forth into the index. The Welytok duo painstakingly defines any terminology the reader may be unfamiliar with. From IRS tax lingo to various legal jargon, the authors were deliberate in ensuring that readers would understand the content, regardless of prior nonprofit exposure.
  4. Quickness – For being a 300+ page book, this read went very quickly, and I attribute the ease of reading to the division of content. That being said, even if you’re going to sit down and absorb this work all at once, it’ll go fast.
  5. Depth – This book begins with the basics and works its way through incorporation, board responsibilities, committee structures, auditing, operations, cooperatives, legal and accounting regulations, relations with the IRS, and much more. The book begins on the outer edge of nonprofit management and works its way toward the inner workings of charities and how they work within federal regulations.

Ultimately, I think this book is an excellent road map for anyone considering the undertaking of creating a new nonprofit, as well as anyone new to a nonprofit management role.

Still too busy to pick up a copy and read Nonprofit Law & Governace for Dummies? Well, created a cheat sheet which summarizes the book's main points for you. At the very least, give the cheat sheet a try.

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