Michael J. Cooney

Counsel to a wide range of charitable and other nonprofit entities, and those who support them, Mike Cooney provides the nonprofit corporate and tax-exempt context in which these organizations can drive mission and margin.

What do you focus on?

Focus on opportunities

My work optimizes the ability of nonprofits to accomplish their mission by identifying opportunities for enhanced fundraising and grant access, project management, governance, and legal compliance. The approach benefits from the widest array of institutions and geographies, with a fundamental understanding of what makes nonprofit institutions successful in today’s competitive environment. The focus is largely structural, with an emphasis on sustainable and organic growth through systems that align the client’s resources and goals.

Tax benefits

That work takes many forms. Charitable institutions and their donors have an array of tax benefits available to help advance their mission. We understand those incentives and advise on how to increase their impact in today’s economy. That spans from program-related investments by private foundations in technology and startup companies to the proper structuring of an integrated fundraising campaign and the development of communities around university campuses.


Good governance is vital to operations and we fashion approaches that make the most of precious volunteer time and resources. That includes the use of multi corporate environments and joint ventures to accomplish exempt purposes.

Risk management

At the same time, we appreciate that success involves a degree of risk, so that when challenges arise, our work involves the identification of a plan and resources necessary to continue the focus on success. In the highly regulated environment in which our clients exist, it is essential to be able to marshal such resources quickly and efficiently.

What do you see on the horizon?

The capacity of our nonprofit institutions to provide needed services and perspectives is being fundamentally challenged by economic forces and an increasingly hostile regulatory environment. Success will be rooted in new collaborations and new partners, drawing on the best practices of the business and governmental sectors, but making them our own.

US universities sever Russian ties, shed investments following Ukrainian invasion

The Business Journals | March 04, 2022

Washington, DC Corporate partner Mike Cooney, a member of NP’s Higher Education team, is quoted in this article on the moves by some colleges and universities to divest Russian assets following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Myth of Perpetuity in Foundation Strategy

Stanford Social Innovation Review | December 11, 2020

In this article by Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s news website, Washington, D.C. Corporate partner Mike Cooney is quoted for his outlook on whether foundations can increase payouts and/or alter their founding intent.


Michael J. Cooney


Washington, DC

Phone: 202-585-8188


Phone: 585-263-1534

New York

Phone: 212-224-7343

Fax: 866-743-0233

University of Virginia, J.D., Managing Editor, Virginia Journal of International Law

Hamilton College, B.A., magna cum laude (Senior Fellow)

New York

District of Columbia


Michael was selected, through a peer-review survey, for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 in the fields of Nonprofit/Charities Law and Tax Law. Mike has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2007, and was named Best Lawyers® 2017 and 2019 Non-Profit/Charities Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Washington, DC.

Mike has also been recognized in Super Lawyers New York—Metro in Nonprofit, Schools & Education, and Healthcare (2012). A Thomson Reuters publication, Super Lawyers evaluates lawyers based on a peer-review surveys and independent research.

Mike is a member of the American, New York State, District of Columbia, and Florida bar associations and the National Association of College and University Attorneys. He is currently vice chair of the board of Charity Navigator and board member at Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

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