In my post yesterday about The Extraordinary Give, I mentioned that each participating organization must be a 501(c)(3) organization. If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered – how did those organizations get to be a 501(c)(3)?

I’m glad you asked: here’s an overview of the typical process of starting a community benefit organization in Pennsylvania. Continue Reading How to Start a Community Benefit Organization in Pennsylvania

The 6th annual Extraordinary Give is coming soon: this year on Friday, November 17, 2017 from midnight to 11:59 pm, you’ll be able to support the community benefit organizations that you love by donating with your dollars. In addition to benefiting from your donations, there are several additional prizes that the participating organizations will be eligible to win.

Hosted by the Lancaster County Community Foundation, the Extraordinary Give is Lancaster County’s largest day of charitable giving, and over the past five years, over 500 organizations have benefitted from the event, with more than $22.5 million in total donations.

To learn more about the Extraordinary Give, check out their website here: extragive.org. There, you can browse the participating community benefit organizations by category or see a full list of all participating organizations. On November 17, you can keep track of all donations in real time on The Extraordinary Give Leaderboard. Continue Reading Save the Date: The Extraordinary Give is Next Friday, November 17, 2017

As Apple fans everywhere well know, the iPhone X is available for preorder on Friday, October 27 at 3:01 am EDT. If you followed my advice from last week by freezing your credit reports and you’re planning on preordering from Apple or your carrier of choice, make sure you temporarily unfreeze your credit reports if you’re the account holder. If you’re on a family plan, make sure that the account holder either does not have their credit reports frozen or goes through the process to unfreeze their reports. Most cell phones are purchased using an installment sale contract, and therefore require a credit report request. Continue Reading Preordering an iPhone X tonight? Unfreeze Your Credit Reports

In the wake of the Equifax data breach, there has been much discussion about the effects of the breach, and how to protect yourself if you were affected. Even though I confirmed that I was not affected by the breach through Equifax’s website, out of an abundance of caution I chose to freeze my credit reports with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You can check whether you were impacted by the Equifax breach here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/.

Although I’ve (thankfully) never been a victim of identity theft, I chose to freeze my credit reports because unfortunately I’ve witnessed clients who have experienced identity theft – it’s expensive, time-consuming, and can quickly ruin your financial independence. For a window into what can be involved in an identity theft case, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website at www.IdentityTheft.gov.  To me, the small headache of lifting the freeze when I want to open a new account is a worthwhile step to help avoid a devastating identity theft situation. Continue Reading How To Freeze Your Credit Reports

It’s no secret that our firm loves technology. In an effort to provide more efficient service to my clients, I routinely try out new apps and technologies to evaluate whether they would help me do my job more effectively.

I recently tried out one app that quickly achieved “can’t live without it” status: TextExpander by Smile Software. Continue Reading How TextExpander Can Save You Time

When it comes to smart phones, Lancaster’s technology lawyers Matt Landis and Brandon Harter rarely agree on anything. Matt’s an Apple fanboy, while for some reason Brandon uses an Android phone.

In this post and in Brandon’s counterpart, we managed to find some common ground: we can’t stand distracted driving. These posts will outline how features on an iPhone or an Android phone can reduce distractions and make the road a little bit safer for everyone.

We are constantly interrupted from the notification tones or vibrations from our mobile phones, and on the road, that’s an obvious problem. On my commute, I witness distracted driving nearly every day. As our own Charlee Sweigart astutely observed in a lunchroom conversation on the issue: “Nobody looks down that much and smiles.”

With the release of iOS 11 last week, Apple announced a feature to help reduce distracted driving: Do Not Disturb While Driving. Basically, text and other notifications are limited while driving to reduce distractions. Calls may come through depending on your setup and settings – for example, if you’re connected to the vehicle’s Bluetooth system, the call will come through. For a full explanation of the feature’s impact on various notifications, you can learn more on Apple’s support website or by clicking “Learn More…” in the Do Not Disturb menu on the iPhone. Continue Reading Public Service Announcement: How your iPhone can help prevent distracted driving

Earlier this month my wife and I traveled to Barcelona, Spain and I posted some of the highlights from our trip on Instagram. On the last day of our trip, we traveled just outside the city to Montserrat, which features a monastery and some incredible views.

After I returned to the US, I received a notification that I’d been tagged in a photo from an account I didn’t recognize. I opened the notification, and here’s what I found:

Montserrat in Catalonia

Another account had copied my photo, and in the description included a copyright symbol next to my username. I quickly reviewed the other posts from the account, and every other image was accompanied by a similar description.

This practice is called “content curation”, and while relatively common on Instagram and other social media sites, it doesn’t eliminate the risks of running afoul of the individual site’s terms of service, or subjecting the curator to liability for intellectual property infringement. Consequences for these types of violations include removal of the content, getting your account temporarily or permanently suspended, to an intellectual property infringement lawsuit with the potential for significant financial penalties.

So what’s the problem? The other account gave attribution, that makes it ok right? Continue Reading Protecting Your Intellectual Property on Instagram

Last week, the finalists for The Great Social Enterprise Pitch were announced. In case you haven’t been following along, The Great Social Enterprise Pitch is a Central Pennsylvania-focused business plan competition organized by the Lancaster Community Foundation and ASSETS.

The following five social enterprises will compete at the Live Pitch event on October 6, 2017 at the Ware Center:

  1. Bridge – connecting communities through shared experiences.
  2. Green Matters Natural Dye Company – bringing pollution free color to the textile industry.
  3. Lancaster Fellow Foodies – making​ ​healthy​ ​dinners​ ​easy​ ​while​ ​creating​ ​meaningful​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​advancing​ ​eco-friendly​ ​farming.
  4. Language Beyond Borders – building communication, bridging cultures, creating jobs.
  5. Meraki Mocha – empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a farm-to-table café.

Tickets for the Live Pitch event can be obtained for $10 here. Doors open at 5:00 pm for a business expo, pitches begin at 7:00 pm. The pitches are followed by keynote speaker Tyler Gage, the cofounder of RUNA, a social enterprise company that makes beverages with guayusa from the Amazon rainforest. I hope to see you there!

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.

Roald Dahl

In celebration of Roald Dahl Day  last Wednesday, someone posted the above quote from the multi-talented British novelist (and short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot) on r/GetMotivated on Reddit.

This quote describes an approach to life that some have naturally, but most pursue through self-reflection, hard work, trial and error. I’m part of the latter category, but what I love about my job is working hard to help my clients achieve their goal.

I’m fortunate to witness the pursuit of this lifestyle in various ways (I’m looking at you, members of CrossFit Hershey), but I see it most often in the entrepreneurs and small business owners that I have the privilege of working with. They have an interest, which turns into a hobby and at some point, they decide to take it to the next level. Continue Reading Lukewarm Is No Good – Turning Your Hobby into a Business