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Nonprofit Law/Nonprofit member rules


Dear Mr. Mechanic,

 I am a participating member at a non for profit community garden and the director and some members at the head of the organization are trying to impose a rule that seems to be geared only towards me and my family.  What they want me to do is not written in their rules and regulations, other members at different garden locations including the people running the organization are guilty of doing exacting what I am doing. I even emailed pictures from their social networking sites to the director proving this, but they do not care. Can you please give me some advice about this issue?  Thank you for your time.

I have in my profile that this free forum is only for general questions about IRS federal exemption issues of 501(c)(3) organizations. Therefore, I am assuming you are referring to a 501(c)(3) organization. Such an organization may have rules and regulations restricting use by certain individuals as long as they are not imposing restrictions based upon some impermissible reason, such as race, religion or national origin.

Now, after the organization adopts are restrictive rule, they can enforce it selectively, again as long as they are not enforcing based upon an impermissible reason, such as race, religion or national origin.  I am assuming you do not have a contract (agreement) that allows your use, because such an agreement would normally not be effected by any new organization regulation, absent something in the agreement giving the organization the option to unilaterally change a term in the agreement.

There may be additional restrictions on the organization's ability to promulgate regulations if they have a contract with a government entity to allow public access.

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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