Nonprofit Law/General Liability


we are a non profit and we are about to begin public attended fundraisers. The question cam up if we have an event at a donated facility, do we need to have a commercial general liability policy in the event someone were to get hurt?

I don't recommend insurance unless you have particular reasons to think that you would be liable for personal injuries, for example if you prepared food that poisoned people.  However, generally, at donated facilities, like government spaces, the government would inform you, in the written agreement, if they required you to bond or get some form of insurance.

You stated that you were a nonprofit, but if you are incorporated as a nonprofit corporation or other state entity that is recognized as a nonprofit, your workers would not be liable. See, as to State liability protection for volunteers of nonprofit organizations

I can inform you that volunteers including unpaid Board members of 501(c)(3) organizations and some other nonprofits have extensive protection under the Federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997.

That Federal law 42 U.S.C. 14501, et. seq is available at:

and the main section is 14503 at:
which has in the first paragraph
---Start of Excerpt--
(a) Liability protection for volunteers
Except as provided in subsections (b) and (d) of this section, no
volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity shall
be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on
behalf of the organization or entity if-
(1) the volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer's
responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or governmental
entity at the time of the act or omission;
(2) if appropriate or required, the volunteer was properly
licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities
for the activities or practice in the State in which the harm
occurred, where the activities were or practice was undertaken
within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities in the
nonprofit organization or governmental entity;
(3) the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct,
gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant
indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by
the volunteer; and
(4) the harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor
vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the State
requires the operator or the owner of the vehicle, craft, or vessel
(A) possess an operator's license; or
(B) maintain insurance.
---End of Excerpt--

Harvey Mechanic
Attorney at Law

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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