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Where can I find a lawyer that will file 501(c)(3) paperwork for a nonprofit pro-bono or low cost?

Philadelphia, PA |

I am working with a nonprofit youth sports organization in Philadelphia, PA that had its 501(c)(3) revoked for failure to complete the 990N form for 3 consecutive years. The board member who was responsible has left the organization so I am not sure who prepared them in the past. We are an inner city organization and our funds are extremely low. We would like to get this resolved as soon as possible.

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Attorney answers 3


Your approach is great!
First, you should have a lawyer on your Board, to serve at no cost. In the area of sports, you should not have difficulty in locating a sports fanatic attorney to do so, either local or from the suburbs. You should have an "informal" agreement that your legal counsel will not leave the organization without finding his/her own competent replacement.
Second, contact local colleges and universities who may have databases of their attorney-fans who want to make the next step in hands on promotion of a sport they already love. Aside from databases they may have personal contacts among attorneys. Go to your "competitors" and ask if any of their attorneys know an attorney ...
Third, your city government probably has several agencies that touch upon your activities. The directors and deputy directors of those agencies may have attorney contacts to fill the role of Director and General Counsel.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland


Sorry, in the meantime, download form 1023 of the IRS and start filling out as much as you can. There is also a good associated workbook. The less you are obliged to ask for in free services, the more likely you are to find a volunteer and to be perceived in a positive light by that attorney as a serious organization committed to continuing its activities.


I agree with Mr. Doland's response. For additional reference, you may find the blog post I've written on the subject and linked below helpful in understanding the general process and applicable rules. Best of luck!

This advice is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship shall be formed as a result of the answer above.


If your exemption was revoked you have to file a new tax exemption application and pay the user fee. There is no way around this if you want to get the exemption reinstated. You can request to have the reinstatement go back to revocation. More information is here on the process;

For pro bono work you can contact the local bar association and they probably have useful resources.

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