Are Nonprofits in Maryland Subject to the Open Meetings Act?

May 8, 2018

Empty meeting roomIn Maryland, nonprofits are private entities and generally are not required to hold “open meetings” unless they were created by governmental action or unless the organization has been required to do so by a governmental entity that funds the organization. However, receiving government funding does not normally require “open meetings.”

According to the Open Meeting Acts Manual, published by the Maryland Attorney General’s office, the first step for anyone challenging a closed meeting is to determine whether the Open Meetings Act applies. That depends on the formal legal authority for the body’s existence. Generally, governmental bodies such as town or city councils, boards of commissioners and school boards must follow the Open Meetings Act. Additionally, boards, commissions, committees and other bodies that function as a subgroup of a public body or are created by a public body might also be subject to the Act.

Private corporations doing business with a government body do not have to follow the Open Meetings Act. However, if a governmental body creates a public corporation to serve some public function, the Open Meetings manual states that the corporation and public body that created it cannot use that means to avoid the Open Meetings Act.

The Open Meetings Act does not cover bodies that were not created by a public official or public body, or by state or local law.

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From the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. The Standards for Excellence code, developed by the Standards for Excellence Institute, includes specific benchmarks and measures that provide a structured approach to building capacity, accountability, and sustainability in your nonprofit organization. The code identifies 6 major areas of nonprofit governance and management: Mission, Strategy, and Evaluation; Leadership: Board, Staff, and Volunteers; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Finance and Operations; Resource Development and Fundraising; and Public Awareness, Engagement and Advocacy.

The Standards for Excellence® Institute, a program of Maryland Nonprofits, provides the best possible resources to nonprofits nationwide, helping build their capacity to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of their communities. Members of Maryland Nonprofits gain access to an online community with an expansive library of resources and customizable templates. Membership with Maryland Nonprofits is designed to help you raise more money, develop your board, build relationships, learn, save on the things you need to run your organization, and amplify your voice in Annapolis. Join today.