Open Meeting Laws and Non-Profit Organizations

Open Meeting Laws and Non-Profit Organizations

This question came in via email:

"Are non-profit organizations subject to open meeting laws?"

As a general matter, federal, state and local government bodies are subject to open meeting laws. Non-profit organizations typically do not fall under these categories. Some individuals, however, have argued that certain non-profit organizations do constitute government bodies because they receive substantial government funding and as a result, should be subject to open meeting laws. If you believe that a particular non-profit is a government body, contact the organization and ask whether they are subject to federal, state, or local open meetings laws. For more information, see the Identifying Federal, State, and Local Government Bodies section of the CMLP Legal Guide.

For information on your right of access to the meetings of government bodies, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the Legal Guide and the Open Government Guide prepared by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Meetings in public spaces

It's perhaps also worth mentioning that meetings held by groups (non profit or private) in public or government space appear to often be subject to open meeting laws by virtue of their location. For example, using the meeting rooms at your local public library.

Non Profit CA Corporation Meetings / Elections

Must a non profit CA Corp that is made up of dues paying members notify its members of the time and location of the board of directors meetings? By the way, these meetings are reported to be taking place in a county owned facility.

Must the non profit CA Corp above advise its membership of upcoming elections, openings on its board, make the process open to all the members, and allow all members to vote?

Start with the CMLP guide

Have a look at the CMLP guide on forming a non-profit in CA.

I'm not an attorney and the following isn't intended to be legal advice.

There may be specific requirements for disclosure mandated by the state in order to qualify as a nonprofit. Having never setup a nonprofit in California, I'm not sure if those requirements exist or if they do, what they specify, but I would start there. If the rules for establishing and operating a nonprofit in CA don't tell you what you have to disclose then I would assume that they'd be set in the organization's bylaws.


Re: Non-profit elections

In general, "elections" aren't even mandatory for non-profits. They can set up their board of directors however they please, as long as it's in their by-laws and said by-laws are followed.

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