August 16, 2018
This responds to your inquiry (18-91) asking whether you may accept a “[man/woman] of the year” award from a fraternal organization, to which you belong, at the entity’s annual dinner and whether your name may be advertised or announced in advance of the event. Although you state the dinner is not a fund-raising event, you also say “any profits may be donated to local charities.”
In general, you may accept an award from a not-for-profit fraternal organization to which you belong at its annual dinner. However, whether your receipt of the award may be announced in advance depends entirely on whether the event is a fund-raiser.1 If the event is not a fund-raiser, your participation may be announced in advance, and the organization may publicize your name as a recipient on any invitation or announcement. However, if the event is a fund-raiser, the organization must not use your name in advance on invitations or announcements, and you may only accept an award if it is entirely unadvertised and ancillary to the event (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[c][b][ii]).
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 17-137; 06-143; 14-45; and 01-51 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Div., First Dep’t
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Family Court Judge
Acting Justice, Supreme Court
1 To make this determination, you should consider all relevant circumstances, including the stated intent of the organization. In general, if the charge for the event is intended primarily to cover costs and there is no other fund-raising or membership solicitation at or associated with the event, it is not considered a fund-raiser, even if the ticket price results in some minimal surplus. Opinions 16-17; 15-154; 14-193; and 05-104 provide guidance in determining whether an event is a fund-raiser.