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Legal Topics in Nonprofit Technology

Published on Nov 18, 2015

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Legal Topics in Nonprofit Technology

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Erin McClarty

Social impact architect (undercover attorney)

Legal topics I'll Cover

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • IP
  • Other Concerns
  • Workarounds

Not to make you a legal expert.
Each slide includes the topics triggers, concerns and why it matters.

Photo by Ross Mayfield

What is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
- 501(c)(3) is a federal tax exemption
-nonprofit refers to the state entity

Photo by B Tal

What information to collect, keep private, and when?


  • Trigger: Collecting personal/sensitive info.
  • Concerns: Keep info private and secure
  • Why it matters: State & International privacy laws
  • Comes Up: With newsletters, user accounts, payment processing.

How to keep sensitive info private.

Photo by deqalb


  • Trigger: Collecting sensitive or confidential info.
  • Concern: Protecting, maintaining secrecy, access in the right hand.
  • Why it Matters: State and Fed. security law. Can lose protection if not reasonable.
  • Comes Up With: Hosting, donations, service databases.

Intellectual Property

Photo by 713 Avenue

Intellectual Property

  • Trigger: The creation or use of something.
  • Concerns: Ownership, rights to use where not owned.
  • Why it Matters: State and Fed. IP protection. Private claims for violation.
  • Comes Up With: Website creation, interface customizations

Other Concerns

Photo by masev

Other Concerns

  • Think about who, what, when, where, why
  • Trade/export
  • What demographic accesses the technology?
  • How is the technology used?


Photo by GotCredit


  • Use Opt-in's and collect what's needed.
  • Use current technology
  • Policies and contracts
  • Embed work-flows and approvals into technology.