Many of you know that I am pretty active with our community’s philanthropic sector. Over the years, however, I have found that too often, an organization will come to me on the fly with a “quick” question that puts me in kind of a bind. I really want to help, but I also want to provide the very best consulting and legal services possible. My legal background, passion for this sector, diverse experience in developing board structures and nonprofit management policy, and ongoing educational pursuits (I actually just finished my first semester in a dual masters degree in philanthropic studies and public policy analysis) mean that I possess a unique combination of skills and knowledge to provide nonprofit organizations with services that will enhance their ability to focus on what they do best: serve the public good.
Many nonprofit organizations understandably struggle with maintaining institutional knowledge, consistently following policy and procedure, and ensuring relevancy in an ever-changing philanthropic environment. I stay current in the best practices of the sector and can provide tailored services to meet your organization’s needs. And if you’re not yet a nonprofit organization but want to become one, I can provide everything you need to get you up and running.
When I give “quick” advice to my nonprofit friends, I usually don’t have the benefit of knowing your governance structure, your existing policies and procedures (and, let’s be honest, whether you consistently follow them), or the context for the issue at hand. This means that I will likely feel the need to disclaim my response. I might have to tell you that because I don’t have access to all of the above, I actually could be dead wrong and you really shouldn’t really rely on such off-the-cuff advice, which is the best I can do under the circumstances.
Becoming a formal nonprofit client means I will have already examined your governing documents, reviewed your financials, gotten to know a few of your key personnel and volunteers, observed at least one of your board meetings, and provided you with some initial recommendations to maximize your effectiveness going forward. It also means that when you reach out with an issue, I’ll be readily available to dive right in and make recommendations that won’t be disclaimed with “just remember, I’m not actually your lawyer” and “I don’t really have all the information I need to give you the best answer.”
My Nonprofit Legal Services & Consulting includes general legal services and policy and governance consulting with regard to:
- the sufficiency and effectiveness of your corporate documents
- your organization’s board structure, meetings protocol, record-keeping, and reporting
- mission and vision, development (fundraising) practices and procedures, volunteer retention and outreach, financial systems and protocol, budgeting, and overall nonprofit management
- compliance with 501(c)(3) requirements and reporting
- working with auditors, CPAs, and tax preparers
- employment-related matters, contracts, liability
- pre-litigation evaluation, notices, and correspondence
- litigation collaboration and support in conjunction with trial counsel
- grant writing and/or editing, tracking, compliance, and reporting
- legislative monitoring
- targeted policy research, analysis, and recommendations on field-specific projects, programs, and advocacy positions
Here’s the menu of what you can expect from a cost perspective. You’ll need a minimum of $1,400 to get started with an organizational analysis and recommendation. I know that nonprofits’ budgets are pretty tight, but I think you’ll find these services will make your organization more efficient, effective, and consistent. Those improvements are important to your funders and constituents, for sure.
After the first of the year, I’ll be happy to consult with your organization’s executive leadership or attend a board meeting free of charge to discuss how entering into a more formal relationship works and answer any questions you may have.