Overview

The higher trust and expectations that the public places on nonprofit institutions are part of what makes such organizations a vital thread in our social fabric. At the same time, those higher expectations bring special and complex legal and regulatory obligations. As a leading law firm with offices in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Paris, Foley Hoag provides practical, experienced and innovative legal advice on every facet of nonprofit organization, from formation and governance, to operations and financing, to legal and regulatory compliance.   

We understand the unique challenges faced by nonprofits, because we have spent decades solving those challenges with our renowned reputation for expertise, responsiveness, and efficiency. Foley Hoag’s nonprofit team includes attorneys who have served as outside general counsel to national and international charities and family foundations, overseen a state attorney general’s public charities division, and authored a leading treatise on nonprofit property tax exemptions. With backgrounds ranging from corporate social responsibility and intellectual property to government relations and labor and employment, our attorneys’ legal guidance and strategic advice is drawn from their substantive experience. 

Foley Hoag’s clients include every form of nonprofit organization — from public charities, private foundations, and issue advocacy groups to trade associations, business leagues, and fraternal organizations. We also advise clients on cutting-edge social ventures and innovative corporate structures and financing techniques, as well as guiding governmental instrumentalities operating in a variety of sectors (including education, healthcare, cleantech and greentech, microfinance and philanthropy).  As your trusted legal advisor, let Foley Hoag help your nonprofit organization — whether new or established, large or small — advance its mission. 

Tax and Regulatory Compliance
Foley Hoag has a wealth of experience assisting nonprofit clients navigate the complex and technical rules — both state and federal — that apply to nonprofit organizations, including unrelated business income tax concerns, lobbying and political activity restrictions, charitable solicitation restraints, state and local property tax exemptions, planned gifting arrangements, public charity/private foundation classification and public support testing, private foundation avoidance of Chapter 42 excise tax penalties, and special issue private letter ruling requests.

We provide compliance audits to help nonprofits identify where they can strengthen compliance practices, and develop comprehensive compliance strategies to ensure strong practices going forward.  We also frequently represent such organizations in their dealings with oversight, audit and regulation by the Internal Revenue Service, state and local taxing authorities, and state Attorneys General.

Formation, Governance, and Investigations
Foley Hoag works closely with executives and boards of directors regarding nonprofit formation, governance matters, and best practices.  We have developed and executed formation strategies for numerous nonprofit organizations, and advised on complex bylaw revisions for existing nonprofits. Foley Hoag attorneys also provide guidance and advice on the ethical obligations and conflict of interest issues that often arise in the context of nonprofit boards and their employees, and routinely conduct internal investigations to give boards the facts necessary to make critical decisions in this regard. We also frequently defend nonprofits facing attorney general investigations, developing legal strategies to protect our clients while ensuring regulatory compliance. Our extensive experience on governance matters includes a particular expertise in assisting with matters involving executive and director compensation, and the IRS “safe harbor” guidelines regulating such compensation arrangements. 

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