Nonprofit Organizations

As the country’s largest nonprofit practice, Venable’s team is equipped with the experience, scale, and institutional knowledge necessary to act as strategic and legal advisors for nonprofit organizations of all kinds, providing practical solutions to the most complex challenges in a cost-effective manner.

Venable maintains a dedicated team of attorneys who concentrate exclusively on the legal service needs of nonprofit organizations, as well as a carefully selected network of other attorneys who regularly work with our nonprofit clients. Our knowledge of the industry’s nature and business derives from both our legal practice and from a deeply rooted participation in the community we represent.

Our team includes former in-house counsel and current board members for nonprofits throughout the nation. This insider perspective enables us to offer holistic guidance that recognizes day-to-day management as well as political and business considerations. We handle the issues that face nonprofits with efficiency and do so with the benchmarking and contextual experience that comes from representing similar clients.

Our core team is supported by the fleet of services offered at Venable, positioning us to act as a single-legal-services provider, while drawing on the knowledge and experience of attorneys across practice groups. Whatever the mission or matter, our depth of experience in almost every legal area affecting nonprofits allows us to navigate even the most complex and nuanced legal challenges.

This full-service counsel is complemented by our unparalleled volume of special events, thought leadership, and industry-association partnerships, all geared to helping our clients take proactive steps toward achieving their missions.

Experience
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  • Represented The Common Application in its acquisition of Reach Higher, the college access campaign begun by former First Lady Michelle Obama. This is an exciting and high-profile transaction that supported Common App’s mission of enhancing the college admissions process for students (particularly first-generation college applicants). The acquisition was announced in September of 2018 and completed by early 2019
  • Assisted a fundraising and awareness organization in establishing an international training program, in which people from developing countries, largely in Central and South America and Asia, will be brought to the U.S. for extensive training before returning to their home countries to put their training into action. The project required addressing issues of international payment transfers, immigration and visas, government reporting, liability, international tax, oversight of the use of charitable funds overseas, and establishing appropriate conduct during the intensive residential training for people from many different cultures. We drafted agreements for the sponsoring international charitable institutions employing the trainees and for the trainees themselves, and advised on a myriad of related issues
  • Assisted a nonprofit organization in a significant restructuring that will result in the creation of new organizations, significant transfers of assets, licensing issues, and governance changes as new boards of directors are created and the composition of the existing board is transformed. Significant issues of Delaware law required extensive research and interpretation. We also advised on conflicts of interest for both executives and board members. Critically, Venable provided counsel on communications and on overall strategy in moving forward. The restructuring is now proceeding smoothly, with buy-in from all constituencies, after beginning in a hostile and confrontational environment before Venable was retained
  • Advised a nonprofit trade association in a $5 million transaction related to educational training for certifications for computer professionals. We also helped with integrating a newly acquired nonprofit into its fold, including working with more than a dozen chapters around the country that arrived as part of the acquisition, which included dealing with their tax-exempt status, corporate structure, and compliance issues
  • Represent a world-renowned music hall in connection with its public performances, private events, and innovative educational programming. Venable has helped the client structure and negotiate myriad deals, including collaborations with other major nonprofit organizations and government entities to bring world-class performances to public spaces and artistic education and programming to underserved populations and locations across New York City, including hospitals and jails
  • Helped a humanitarian organization design a fundraising campaign with an online gaming community that allowed players to donate through purchases within the game. This helped the client reach online gamers in that environment, and was intended to attract donations from a community that may have been less inclined to donate through traditional avenues. Venable worked closely with the client to help develop the fundraising model in a way that complied with applicable state restrictions and optimized the organization’s tax position while maintaining the program’s effectiveness
  • Worked with a large health and medical research charity on a variety of charitable promotions, cause-related marketing deals, sweepstakes and raffles, and more. Recently, a famous musician wrote a song specifically for the charity, and Venable worked through a variety of options related to ownership of the rights to the song, licensing of the name of the song, the donation of all or part of the proceeds, and the different tax and state regulatory impacts of each, based on state commercial co-venture regulations, which can be quite onerous for a 50-state effort. We also advised regarding the use of social media influencers and appropriate disclaimers, and reviewed and provided counsel for Public Service Announcement (PSA) scripts

Representative Clients
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  •  ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • American Alliance of Museums
  • American Bar Association
  • American Medical Association
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Entertainment Industry Foundation
  • Information Technology Industry Council
  • LeadingAge
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Nature Conservancy
  • Pact - Pathfinder
  • Project Management Institute
  • Public Relations Society of America
  • The Common Application
  • UnidosUS
  • Volunteers of America

Recognition
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  • Ranked in the top tier of the nation's law firms in Legal 500, 2012 – 2018, Not-for-Profit
  • Regionally ranked as a Tier 1 firm in Nonprofit/Charities Law by U.S. News-Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms," 2011 – 2017
  • Attorneys recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for Non-Profit/Charities Law, 2012 – 2018
  • Attorney named "Lawyer of the Year" for Baltimore Non-Profit/Charities Law in Best Lawyers, 2014
  • Attorney received the Career Achievement Award from the Association of Corporate Counsel – National Capital Area
  • Attorney received the 2015 Outstanding Young Nonprofit Lawyer Award, American Bar Association, Business Law Section, Nonprofit Organizations Committee