Nonprofit Law/snack bar fees


QUESTION: Hi, my kids play for a non profit football and cheer organization. And starting this year the organization is forcing a snack bar fee. They will hold from you a 75$ check in till you work the snack bar or you could buy out by paying 50$. They are not allowing the kids to participate in till the parents have done one of the above. Even though all the kids have paid there tuition. They also will not allow the cheer squads do individual fund raising in till they have paid an organization fee of 1000$.( mainly done by sponsorships) Is any of this legal?

ANSWER: A 501(c)(3) organization may have fees.  For example universities have tuition.  But you wrote that the kids have already paid their tuition.  That would indicate that there was a contract (either oral or written) between the cheer organization and the family.  The contract is something like -- you pay the tuition of $xxx and our organization will allow you to participate in the activities of the organization.

After a contract is formed, if a party informs that other party that they will not be getting what their tuition was for unless they pay some extra amount, that additional demand is not enforceable and the organization is required to provide the services bargained for.  If they do not, then they are in breach of the contract and the family has a cause of action against that nonprofit organization.  

Before I go into the other issues raised by your questions, please reply to the above so that I make sure that we are, at this point, on the same page.

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.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: There is no indication of the snack bar fee in till you make your tuition payment.  Some parents get passed that point without paying it , but are told they have to do so before there child can participate.

This form of activity by the organization an example of an unfair business practice. I suggest that you pass on my earlier answer to them and let them know that you are going to be holding them to the agreement for certain services in exchange for the tuition, which you already paid.

In any case, individual fund raisers are not allowed. In August, 2013 the U.S. Tax Court supported the revocation of 501(c)(3) organization status of a formerly exempt organization and
noted that a parent's fundraising was earmarked to reduce what otherwise could be a $1,400 payment the parent would have to pay out of his/her pocket. The direct linkage of a parent's fundraising resulted with paying expenses for that parent's child and was a very specific benefit obtained by the insider.  While the parent may not have been paid cash, the parent nevertheless ended up escaping having to write a check for the amount of the benefit. Families who did not fundraise did not receive any benefits from the purported a 501(c)(3) organization.

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


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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