Public Charities & Private Foundations


Sullivan & Worcester's attorneys advise all manner of public and private tax-exempt entities, including cultural, environmental and charitable organizations, schools, religious entities, hospitals, sponsoring organizations of donor advised funds, supporting organizations, and private grant-making and operating foundations.  S&W also works with non-charitable tax-exempt entities such as social welfare organizations, trade associations, social clubs and others.

Our representation encompasses the entire life span of an organization – planning, creation, operation, and, when appropriate, liquidation – and includes advice on state and federal compliance requirements for each stage of the journey.

Trustees and directors of charitable trusts and charitable corporations often seek S&W's counsel on governance and fiduciary duties, as well as on avoiding private inurement and impermissible private benefit. We guide our public charity clients as they seek to raise funds to further their charitable mission, providing advice on rules governing fund-raising and the substantiation of charitable gifts.  We also assist with obtaining exemption from the sales tax and the property tax on real estate occupied for charitable purposes.

S&W assists our private foundation clients in navigating the myriad and complex rules against self-dealing, excess business holdings, jeopardy investments, and taxable expenditures. We also help these foundation clients to effectively structure their charitable disbursements, including advising on program related investments.

Our practice includes advising on transactions between tax-exempt entities. For example, we work with charities and their affiliated 501(c)(4) organizations to create a structure that provides flexibility for legislative and political activity while meeting the rules governing both entities. We also assist in planning transactions between tax-exempt and taxable entities to achieve the objectives of both while preserving tax-exempt status. We also advise on the suitability of creating a single member limited liability company through which to achieve a charity’s objective.

S&W has significant experience advising on international charitable activities, including advising US-based charities on their foreign activities, and creating foreign entities to carry out the client’s charitable objectives.   

We advise exempt organizations, including pension funds and governmental entities, on their business and investment activities, including the impact of unrelated business income tax. 

We also advise high net worth individuals in creative charitable giving, including the use of donor advised funds, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, conservation easements, bargain sales and other sophisticated planned giving devices.