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Nonprofit Organizations

The future of nonprofits remains uncertain. Government funding is being reduced at the federal, state and local levels nationwide. Social media is radically reshaping the nonprofit landscape and will continue to do so in the coming years. These shifts are converging to create a diverse and complex industry segment.

Our approach

Nonprofits are being forced to be entrepreneurial to meet the intricate legal challenges and opportunities presented today. To do more with less, while still meeting the growing reliance communities—both local and internationally—have on them.

We have partnered with more than 250 tax-exempt organizations—both in the U.S. and abroad—and provide pragmatic, creative solutions to help nonprofits achieve the strategic missions of the future.

From highly specialized issues to day-to-day concerns, we bring knowledge, understanding and sensitivity to all matters.

We understand the business needs of nonprofits today and the demands of the future.

We work with

Foundations—international, community and corporate giving programs

Charitable organizations—from small, neighborhood organizations to large, national organizations

Colleges and universities—from large public research universities to small private colleges

Hospitals and health care systems—from major university hospitals to large health care systems

Religious institutions—Catholic Dioceses, religious congregations, Jewish community centers, local synagogues and churches

Trade associations—from a major national association to a Washington-based association that has numerous local chapters

Museums and cultural organizations—from one of the most well-known museums in the country, to small cultural organizations within our communities

Professional schools—from large law schools and technical engineering schools to design and business schools

Get Connected

The Nonprofit Revitalization Act just became law in New York State. The Act affects nonprofit organizations incorporated or doing business in New York State, including both charitable and non-charitable entities. Leaders of these organizations have important decisions to make about the opportunities—and burdens—imposed by the new law. If you would like to contact a member of our Nonprofit Revitalization team, send us a note at: NPRevitalization@nixonpeabody.com. We are ready to share the steps needed to make sure your organization is compliant with the requirements of the Act.

Recent experience

  • Aided an independent law school in its merger with a large university, which will serve as a national model for others to follow as this trend evolves.
  • Assisted five universities in developing a collaborative super-computing center, using innovative financing through new markets tax credits.
  • Successfully represented a large museum as counsel and advisors to the parties to craft the unprecedented agreement to showcase the renowned 1,100 piece collection of modern and contemporary artwork.
  • Assisted a major national trade association in restructuring its vendor endorsements to maximize the tax-exempt corporate sponsorship revenue.
  • Assisted a multinational charitable organization in resolving noncompliance issues with foreign-country payroll taxes.
  • Assisted a national charitable organization in applying for and securing $1.7 million of cy pres damages from two different class actions
  • Provide counsel to a foreign charity with fund-raising in the United States.
  • Offer particular depth in matters involving charitable assets, their use and investment. Our attorneys are familiar with the nexus among the institutional advancement, investment and finance functions with charitable institutions, large and small, having represented institutions coast-to-coast on these matters.
  • Act as counsel to numerous community foundations, with a focus on gifting of complex assets and grantmaking in the United States and abroad.
  • Work with several major university endowments from coast-to-coast on the restructuring of their relationships since the market downturn, successfully combining our depth of experience in charitable fund management and investment counseling.

Adhering to Board duties in an affiliation transaction

Trustee | June 30, 2017

Chicago public finance partner Thomas Fahey authored this column about how nonprofit community hospital board members should consider duty of care and duty of loyalty to guide decisions regarding joining larger health systems.

Artists’ commissions, tech gifts and guns: the legal issues facing US museums

The Art Newspaper | May 11, 2017

This article discusses the most pressing legal questions facing museums. Washington DC M&A and corporate transaction partner Mike Cooney is quoted on the possible legislation by Congress to limit income tax deductions for charitable donations.

New state measure amends Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013

Rochester Business Journal | February 10, 2017

Rochester private equity and investment funds partner Jeremy Wolk, Washington DC nonprofit organizations partner Michael Cooney and Rochester nonprofit organizations counsel Anita Pelletier co-authored this column about updates to the Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 and what New York nonprofits will need to do in order to comply.

Consider nonprofit’s impact when donating

Rochester Business Journal | January 20, 2017

This article about charitable giving features Washington DC nonprofit/higher education partner Mike Cooney discussing the personal drivers behind choosing a charity.

Limited privacy of donor information in New York

Rochester Business Journal | October 17, 2016

Rochester Private Equity & Investment Funds partner Jeremy Wolk and Washington DC M&A and Corporate Transactions partner Mike Cooney authored this column about privacy issues surrounding charitable donors in New York.

Philanthropic Capital In Search Of Clarity

Law360 | June 10, 2016

Partner and leader of our nonprofit organizations and higher education teams Mike Cooney authored this column about how program-related investments have an overweighted emphasis on international philanthropy.

The Duty of Obedience in a Time of Change

Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Blog | June 07, 2016

Washington, DC, partner and leader of the firm’s Higher Education and Nonprofit Organizations teams Mike Cooney authored this column discussing the duty of obedience—a fiduciary duty of board members to ensure that the institution is operating according to its stated purposes in its governing documents.

Gov. Christie rejects N.J. hospital tax-exemption bill

Modern Healthcare | January 20, 2016

This article discusses a New Jersey bill mandating not-for-profit hospitals contribute to local municipalities instead of paying property taxes, noting a veto by the New Jersey governor came just one day before the Illinois Department of Revenue confirmed that it has temporarily stopped reviewing hospitals' applications for property tax exemptions. Chicago Health Care partner John Durso provides general commentary on these tax-exemption issues.

Mission investing comes to the fore with recent announcements

Rochester Business Journal | November 13, 2015

Partners Jeff LaBarge and Mike Cooney co-authored this column on “mission” or “impact investing”—terms used to describe the deployment of philanthropic investment capital to advance charitable ends.

Mission Investing Invigorated

Law360 | October 06, 2015

Partner and leader of the firm’s Nonprofit Organizations practice Mike Cooney and partner and Chief Innovation Officer Herb Stevens authored this piece discussing recent developments in the area known as “mission” or “impact investing”—terms used to describe the deployment of philanthropic investment capital to advance charitable ends.

Nonprofits in the Zone of Insolvency: 2 Cautionary Tales

Law360 | May 19, 2015

New York City financial restructuring and bankruptcy counsel Chris Desiderio, Washington, DC, M&A and Corporate Transactions partner Mike Cooney, and associate Rob Trott and Boston partner and leader of the firm’s Bankruptcy & Financial Restructuring practice Victor Milione coauthored this column on important issues charitable fiduciaries should educate themselves on to avoid insolvency.

When Do-Gooders Do Well

Long Island Business News | April 01, 2015

Washington, DC, partner and leader of our nonprofit organizations practice Mike Cooney is quoted in this article discussing best practices pertaining to nonprofit executive compensation.

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