Nonprofit Organizations |
Nonprofit organizations face a myriad of unique and complex challenges. Through the years, Perkins Coie attorneys have served as general outside counsel for a wide variety of nonprofit organizations and acted as trusted advisors to boards of directors and staff leadership. We bring a personal understanding to the challenges every organization faces and an integrated approach to our counsel as a result of deep experience as directors and advisors.
Experience with Many Types of Nonprofit Clients
Our experience focuses in the following broad areas:
Public Charities: We provide a wide range of services to some of the most prominent and broadly supported public charities in the country, including cultural and performing arts organizations, religious organizations, universities, schools and research foundations.
Private Grant Making Foundations: Whether dedicated to directed grant making or social investing, private foundations ordinarily rely on a limited source for their support. We regularly counsel companies, families and individuals in establishing, structuring and maintaining their foundations.
Private Operating Foundations: Unlike private grant making foundations, private operating foundations initiate and carry out charitable activities. To qualify as a private operating foundation, an organization must meet certain tests in order to prove that it is actively carrying out direct charitable programs. We help organizations understand, comply with and monitor these complex criteria.
Trade Associations: Perkins Coie attorneys have deep experience with the legal concerns and challenges that trade associations face. We have assisted many trade associations with diverse membership, governance and standards requirements and, when needed, we have provided assistance with anti-trust questions.
Political Organizations: Our political law group is one of the largest, most experienced of its kind in the nation. We help clients navigate the sometimes treacherous rules surrounding lobbying, campaign finance and ethics issues. We also help establish and advise 527 organizations.
Social Welfare Organizations: Social welfare or "advocacy" organizations are similar to charities in their purpose of promoting the common good and general welfare of a community. Unlike charities, however, these organizations may engage in significant lobbying activities. We regularly counsel social welfare organizations on a full range of issues, including lobbying activities.
Social Clubs: Perkins Coie attorneys provide a wide variety of services, including formation, operations and restructuring advice, to country clubs, private clubs and a variety of other social clubs.
Taxable Nonprofits: Not all nonprofit organizations are tax-exempt. Attorneys at Perkins Coie understand that there are times when an organization may choose to be a nonprofit entity for state law purposes while remaining fully taxable for federal income tax purposes. We have advised taxable nonprofits on a wide variety of legal issues from incorporation through dissolution.
A Proactive Approach That Anticipates Issues Before They Become Problems
Regardless of the type of nonprofit organization, we assist in all phases of the organization's existence from its formation to providing assistance in obtaining tax-exempt status and ongoing governance to ethics and operations advice. We take a proactive approach to meeting our clients' needs, which often includes:
- Monitoring applicable state and federal law changes to ensure that our clients have current information and can comply with changes in the law in a timely fashion. These often include guiding clients through the maze of complicated tax laws that apply to exempt organizations, such as unrelated business taxable income, charitable giving, intermediate sanctions, self-dealing and other excise taxes, as well as various federal and state compliance matters.
- Providing guidance on business dealings and assisting in addressing the fiduciary duties of directors and officers.
- Structuring charitable-giving techniques that benefit both donors and recipients.
- Attending board of directors meetings. Our clients often find that our attendance gives us a better understanding of the nonprofit's business. It also helps us identify possible legal concerns before they become problematic.
- Additionally, we often provide board trainings and presentations on topics ranging from "The Risks of Serving as a Board Member" to "Tax Exempt Applications and Obtaining Tax Exempt Status," "What Board Members Need to Know About Legal Liability," "Forming a Nonprofit" and many more so that clients are well informed about the issues that may impact their organizations.
Access To Deep Experience In A Wide Variety of Legal Areas
Perkins Coie's nonprofit organization lawyers regularly tap into the depth of experience that a large firm like ours offers to collaborate with attorneys on issues ranging from complex corporate law to development and fundraising, intellectual property, ERISA, health care, labor, personal planning, real estate, risk management, tax and much more. Additionally, we regularly counsel clients in establishing revenue-generating enterprises and protecting the intellectual property associated with these activities.