Volunteer Legal Handbook, 9th Edition
Handbook > Preface


Most nonprofits can’t afford the kind of "legal preventative maintenance" that they should get. Legal advice is expensive; risk management is hard. So most nonprofits try to do without. As a result, when a claim occurs, it can mean financial disaster for the nonprofit. Sometimes it means financial disaster for the volunteers who support the nonprofit, too.

The purpose of this manual is to provide an introduction or orientation to that kind of background knowledge. This manual isn’t legal advice – I specifically disclaim any intention of giving you legal advice. See the Disclaimer page. But it may help you by giving you some general background information in the area of legal risks and risk management.

The focus of the manual is risk management, but to understand risk management, you must be able to evaluate risk and, in today’s society, that means understanding the law. So the manual opens with some common kinds of legal risks associated with operating a nonprofit corporation, and asks some pointed questions. And that is followed by a long discussion of the law and the legal risks facing nonprofit corporations today.

Not all of that discussion of law is relevant to all nonprofit corporations, and a considerable portion involves issues of Alaska law which are probably only marginally helpful to non-Alaska organizations. The discussion of Alaska’s peculiar charitable gaming laws, for example, aren’t going to be helpful to nonprofit corporations in other states.

The second major section of the manual is a discussion of risk management for nonprofit corporations. There is no such thing as a risk-free nonprofit corporation, but there are certainly ways of minimizing the risks and even managing them. The second section introduces some of those techniques.

The final sections of the manual are resources for nonprofit corporations.


These materials are copyrighted by Guess & Rudd P.C. and all rights are reserved, except as otherwise provided. If you would like a copy of these materials you have several options.

U.S. Mail Email Telephone
United Way of the Tanana Valley P.O. Box 74396
Fairbanks, AK 99707
uwvac@alaska.com (907) 452-7211
Alaska Bar Association P.O. Box 100279
Anchorage, Alaska 99510
info@alaskabar.org (907) 272-7469

1. Download the PDF Version. There's a PDF version of the Handbook available for download. You will need Acrobat Reader from Adobe Software to open this file. You will then need to purchase the password for the file in order to open it. The password costs about $10.00 and is available either from United Way of the Tanana Valley or the Alaska Bar Association at the contact information set out above. Both United Way and the Alaska Bar take credit cards. After you have purchased the password, and after you are sure you have installed Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or later, click here for the PDF version.

2. Order a Copy from United Way. You can buy a printed copy of the Handbook from United Way of the Tanana Valley for about $20.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling. To order, contact United Way of the Tanana Valley at any of the contacts set out above.

3. Order a Copy from the Alaska Bar Association. You can also order a printed copy of the Handbook from the Alaska Bar Association for about $20.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling. To order, contact the Alaska Bar Association at any of the contacts above.

4. Stealing the Handbook. Sure, you can get it for free by copying the web pages. It will cost you a lot more than the purchase price to download and print a copy from the Internet, and you'd violate the copyright laws of the United States besides. Besides, the printed copy would look pretty ugly. Truthfully, the Handbook doesn't lend itself very well to downloading from HTML. There's a lot of different parts, and a lot of the labelling and formatting has been sacrificed...

Read and remember the Disclaimer. Treating this Handbook as a lawyer would be a lot like trying to learn to ride a bicycle from a book: you can get a rough idea, but it's no substitute for talking to a real live lawyer.

If you want a license to distribute these materials, email jdewitt@iciclesoftware.com.

Thanks for checking the Handbook out....

Volunteer Legal Handbook, 9th Edition
Handbook > Preface

Revised Sat, Dec 26, 2009