In Colorado, marijuana is legal. In the eyes of the federal government, it is still illegal. Should Colorado nonprofits seek/accept contributions from a marijuana retailer?
“There is still some legal risk that a nonprofit would need to evaluate, but from the experts we've talked to, it seems small at this point,” said Renny Fagan, Colorado Nonprofit Association president and CEO.
According to Colorado Nonprofit Association’s year-end 2016 survey, one in 10 nonprofits had actively sought out contributions, but two-thirds would consider accepting a donation if offered.
If nonprofits receive federal funds through a contract or grant, that contract or grant would most likely prohibit a violation of federal law as a condition of receiving those funds. For those nonprofits, they should not accept donations from a marijuana retailer.
Most nonprofits, however, do not directly receive federal funds. For them, the decision to accept donations or not from the marijuana industry depends on the individual nonprofits themselves. Those nonprofits should evaluate how the acceptance of these donations fit with their donor base overall and is it consistent with their mission.