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Capabilities / Nonprofit Organizations & Religious Institutions

Nonprofit Organizations & Religious Institutions

Placing a focus on purpose.

More than 100 attorneys firmwide regularly counsel tax-exempt clients that range from global entities to local 501(c)(3) organizations, as well as the individuals and entities that interact with them. Our team of nonprofit attorneys tailors creative legal strategies that fit each group’s unique business needs while advancing its mission.

Our law firm's team of nonprofit attorneys handles issues common to tax-exempt organizations, such as formation, compliance, private benefit or inurement, conflicts of interest, sanctions, penalties, loss of tax-exempt status, tax management, outsourcing, joint ventures, financing, real estate transactions, employment and labor issues, litigation and general commercial transactions. Our attorneys for nonprofit organizations also advise individuals and businesses on the use of private foundations, split interest trusts and other charitable giving techniques designed to maximize tax incentives.

Case Study
Moving Harris Park Midtown Sports & Activity Center From Vision to Reality

Our team helped bring a sports-themed development project in Kansas City's urban core to fruition.

Case Study
BLAQUE Advances Educational Equity With Legal Support From Husch Blackwell

We assisted in the formation of a new not-for-profit dedicated to improving the academic, economic, social, emotional and life outcomes of African-American children in public schools.

Representative Experience

Religious Institutions

  • Guided the Archdiocese of Milwaukee through a multiyear restructuring process involving questions of first impression under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
  • Represented numerous denominations in issues as varied as real estate, church pension plans, tax issues involving clergy, planned giving, litigation and employment counseling.
  • Represented large church organization in updating retirement plan documents, retirement plan administration and correcting past errors with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Advised the self-insured health plan of a large religious organization on navigating new contraception rules under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Prepared use restrictions in real estate conveyance documents to ensure building’s continued use as a church after its sale.
  • Represented a congregation in its acquisition of two apartment buildings for use in prison ministry.
  • Developed and implemented a for-profit subsidiary and commercial enterprise that is controlled by a faith-based organization and provides funding and employment for the organization’s constituents.

Museums

  • Serve as general counsel for major art institutions, offering guidance on governance, charitable giving, employment matters, intellectual property, tax issues, litigation, construction, employee benefits and public finance.
  • Advised the Saint Louis Art Museum on all aspects of a $150 million building expansion.
  • Counseled museum on labor negotiations involving three bargaining units.

Colleges, Universities and Schools

  • Authored an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a nonprofit serving the largest urban school districts in America.
  • Advised universities on structuring for-profit and nonprofit joint venture to maximize potential while protecting tax-exempt status.
  • Served as general counsel to the Kansas City Public Schools in its efforts to sell, lease and repurpose vacant school buildings.

Hospitals and Healthcare Systems

  • Successfully reorganized multiple nonprofit public hospitals through Chapter 11 bankruptcies.
  • Obtained federal tax-exempt status as a charitable organization for medical service and research organizations spearheaded by private physicians.
  • Assisted a hospital with the decision to augment its audit committee membership and charter.

Community Foundations and Other Nonprofits

  • Defended numerous tax-exempt organizations in connection with IRS audits.
  • Created employee benefits and executive compensation plans for nonprofit cultural institutions.
  • Successfully advocated on behalf of political groups to place measures on statewide ballots.
  • Provided real estate contract drafting and review for a local watershed conservation nonprofit.
  • Designed cash balance retention plans for two top executives of a cultural institution;
  • Advised foundation, from contract negotiation through closing, on purchase of real estate from a church.
  • Represented two foundations on the purchase and subsequent lease of several buildings that were redeveloped as an animal shelter.
  • Advised nonprofit arts organization on all aspects of the development and management of a public garden.
  • Represented nonprofit organization that provides employment for blind individuals in all its labor and employment matters nationwide.
  • Served as general counsel to a national nonprofit, handling all of its governance and corporate issues, employment matters, litigation, general contract review, board counsel and tax advice.

White Papers | April 2021
Ten Tips for Keeping Your Faith Community Out of Legal Trouble

Guidance for churches, dioceses, synagogues, mosques, and other faith communities to avoid exposure to common legal liabilities.

Articles | March 25, 2021
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin: Creatives have been hit hard by COVID, but there are ways to help

"Every industry has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and it is up to those who are able to now help the people most impacted in our communities."

Alerts | February 24, 2021
SBA Now Accepting PPP Applications from Businesses with Fewer Than 20 Employees

Biden Administration to Prioritize Minority-Owned Enterprises and Those in Low-Income Areas

Blog | April 13, 2020
Coronavirus and Nonprofits
Testimonials The Most Rev. Jerome E. Listecki, Archbishop of Milwaukee

“Working with this team provided the Archdiocese of Milwaukee the confidence it needed in making difficult legal decisions under a challenging set of circumstances. Their patient and systematic approach helped us to reach our goals, and their leadership style upheld the values we hold forth as a religious institution.”

Read how invested partnerships make a difference
Testimonials The Rev. Nate Berneking, Director of Finance & Administration, Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

“The Husch Blackwell team has provided several of our local churches with practical, easy-to-understand advice in situations ranging from simple real estate issues to extremely complex forms of alternative philanthropy and generosity. They truly understand how to work with nonprofits and churches.”

Read how invested partnerships make a difference
Testimonials Roger Ross, Director of Congregational Excellence, Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Kelli was an indispensable part of getting our pastor and his family from Cuba to the United States. Her careful and persistent work was exactly what they needed. The pastor, his family, our new congregants and I are deeply grateful.”

Read how invested partnerships make a difference
Case Study

Dr. Hills' vision was to improve educational outcomes for African-American children in public schools.

Read how Husch Blackwell turned her vision into reality

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