Mediation Minute

Giving to the Givers: A Word About Not-for-Profit Charitable Organizations

June 3, 2021

I want to discuss non-profits in the context of mediation, and also stress the need to donate now to charitable organizations. They were crushed by COVID-19. Not-for-profits frequently gather a significant portion of the operating budget from sponsored events and fundraisers, almost all of which were cancelled during the pandemic. When the economy suffers, consumer anxiety increases, which also reduces ordinary contributions.

I would like to urge people to donate in June rather than wait until the holidays when giving is more common. Cash flow problems are devastating to not-for-profits because demands for help do not cease but actually increase during difficult times.

I want to talk briefly about mediation with non-profits and, at the end, you will find a list of organizations in Central Florida and elsewhere that my family and I have supported through donations.

Not-for-profits present a couple of challenges when litigation surfaces and when the opportunity for mediation arises. Although one person may be your “litigation contact,” it is important to remember that the board of directors or trustees is your client.

You need to be mindful of this and do not assume all the board members share the same attitude about litigation or settlement. They frequently disagree over whether to consider settlement, and sometimes there are underlying conflicts within the organization that the litigation exacerbates. Sometimes, the board is sympathetic to the plaintiff! Your board members may change during protracted litigation, which can result in a shift in strategy.

The key here is to meet with the board early in the litigation (Zoom calls are best.) Hold short, monthly status sessions. The meetings do two things: They give new board members a chance to learn about the dispute. Second, you may identify the conflicts and personalities that stand in the way of a fair compromise and resolution.

Building trust with a board takes a while. If you have not invested time in the relationship, it may be hard to reach a deal you are recommending. Most not-for-profits are exceedingly risk adverse, and if they have directors’ and officers’ liability coverage or a general liability policy, the economic brunt of any settlement is likely to be shouldered by the carrier. You should always investigate insurance coverage. As a mediator, I enjoy helping not-for-profits settle cases so they can get back to their primary mission.

Here is a list of organizations in my hometown of Orlando which my family and I support, and we hope you can support these or other deserving organizations.  All are qualified as §501(c)(3) organizations under the tax code:

One Heart for Women and Children
2040 N. Rio Grande Ave.
Orlando FL 32804

Seniors First, Inc.
5395 L. B. McLeod Rd.
Orlando FL 32811

Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools
400 E. Lake Mary Blvd.
Sanford FL 32773

Central Florida Women’s Resource Center
55 E. Washington St.
Orlando FL 32801

Coalition for the Homeless
18 North Terry Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801
p: 407.426.1255 | f: 407.426.1269

Give Kids the World
210 S. Bass Rd.
Kissimmee FL 34746

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando and Osceola County
4116 Silver Star Rd.
Orlando FL 32808

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
411 Mercy Drive
Orlando, FL 32805