Nonprofits and Contracts: Write it down!

Ideally, I get to help clients head off any legal issues before they even arise.  Unfortunately, however, many people wait until a problem has festered and spread before they consult an attorney.  If I could go back in time and give them one tip, it would be to write it down.

There often comes a point in a consultation when I ask someone, “You got it in writing, right?” and there’s this long pause while I get a sinking feeling, and then I hear, “Well, about that….”

Sure, making deals with a handshake and a smile may seem warm, friendly, and safe at the time, but write it down.  Buying something for your organization?  Doing business with a friend?  Write it down.

Sometimes people don’t bother to get agreements in writing because they feel pressured, don’t want to be a pain, or because they think that contracts have to be long, involved, expensive documents (tip: not necessarily).  Plus, after all, what’s the worst that could happen, right?  Think of it this way: you don’t want to have to find out.

Even a very simple written statement of your transaction could make all the difference, so save yourself the trouble later on and just write it down.

Have any questions on this post?  Contact me at

Please note:  This blog is intended as general educational information only, and should not be considered legal advice or a substitute for consulting a lawyer.