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Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations provide critical resources and services to under-invested communities in Philadelphia, supporting individuals and neighborhoods across the city.

The Community We Serve

Focused on their mission and directing all available resources to program delivery, nonprofit organizations often reach an insurmountable hurdle when they need business law services to formally incorporate or resolve other transactional legal issues. Additionally, some may be unaware of the legal intricacies involved in operating legitimately as a public charity. Nonprofits confront the choice of using their limited resources to hire an attorney, or proceeding on their own and risking liability.

For eligible nonprofit organizations, VIP resolves this dilemma by providing the free legal assistance necessary to form and maintain sustainable organizations.

Our Service Models

Philadelphia VIP offers free legal assistance to nonprofit organizations through two service models.

One-Time Consultations

Our Nonprofit Legal Assessment Clinics offer nonprofit leaders the chance to meet with a volunteer attorney for a free, one-hour consultation. These sessions provide a personalized assessment focusing on the organization’s most critical legal needs. After the clinic, eligible nonprofits may receive ongoing legal assistance with the legal need(s) identified and discussed at the clinic.

Visit our events page to view upcoming clinics.

Full Representation

Nonprofit organizations seeking help with a specific legal need can apply to VIP for full, no-cost representation by a volunteer attorney. Common issues handled by our volunteers include incorporation, tax-exempt status, contract drafting, trademark filing, policy revision, and zoning permits. To apply for full representation, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.

Note: VIP volunteers do not handle cases in which a nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors is in a dispute; leadership of the organization must be in agreement about the legal need being pursued. VIP volunteers also do not handle nonprofit matters involving litigation, short deadlines, or non-specific legal needs/general legal counseling.

Client Testimonial

The Chief Musician

In 2016, Kenesta T. Mack, founder of The Florencia M. Mack Educational Fund, a memorial fund awarding scholarships for textbook expenses to Philadelphia high school and college students majoring in instrumental or voice music, reached out to VIP.

Ms. Mack had established the fund in honor of her mother, Florencia, who passed away after a 70-plus-year career as a music teacher and church organist. “The mission of the fund is to preserve her memory by promoting the study of music,” Ms. Mack said.

Kenesta Mack's Story
 
 

I’ve learned that you have to ask for help – it’s out there for people who really put in the time and ask for it.

Eligibility

To be eligible for VIP’s services, a nonprofit organization must:

  1. Have a mission that benefits low-income individuals, a low-income community, or Philadelphia’s public interest
  2. Demonstrate that the nonprofit is unable to pay for legal services without significant impairment of program resources

 

Application Form

To apply for free legal assistance, please fill out the form below.

VIP also asks all nonprofit applicants to provide:

  1. A projected three-year budget, or an actual three-year budget if the organization is in operation
  2. Contact information for the nonprofit’s Board of Directors and Officers.

After you complete the form, a VIP staff member will reach out to you to confirm your eligibility and gather more information related to your legal need.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the application process, please contact Ivelisse Cruz, Nonprofit & Small Business Coordinator, at icruz@phillyvip.org or 215-523-9565.