You clicked “Donating to Support Local Communities” which is amazing since nearly 100% of Pro Bono Partnership’s work is funded by donations from supporters like you.
Pro Bono Partnership offers free legal help and low-cost educational programs to nonprofits assisting disadvantaged populations or enhancing the quality of life in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Nonprofit organizations must comply with ever-changing regulatory frameworks and address business legal needs. Yet many go without legal advice, either because they do not recognize the need for counsel or do not believe it is affordable, given perpetual funding challenges.
Since its founding in 1997, the Partnership has assisted more than 4,000 nonprofits throughout the tri-state region on over 19,000 legal matters, enabling them to more effectively feed the hungry, house those who are homeless, promote the arts, protect the environment, and provide essential programs to children, those who are elderly, immigrants, those who are disabled, and those who are unemployed. In our 2020 Annual Client Survey, over 90% of respondents describing the Partnership’s effect on their organization said that the Partnership’s assistance had a moderate or substantial impact on their organization becoming stronger or more effective.
The Partnership provides a myriad of business legal services for client nonprofits, such as reviewing contracts, bylaws, corporate governance policies, leases, websites and technology policies, helping with employment and HR issues, assisting with mergers, or assessing the legal risks of proposed programs or fundraisers. The Partnership also offers a Legal Resource Helpline, which the public can utilize to ask quick legal questions related to nonprofit law. In addition, the Partnership publishes Legal Alerts and offers numerous educational programs so nonprofit board members, staff, and volunteers better understand their legal and financial obligations. With a modest budget of under $2.7 million, the Partnership provided approximately $19 million in free legal help to more than 900 nonprofits last year.
The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in an increased demand for the Partnership’s services from nonprofits operating in the communities we serve. Starting in March 2020, nonprofits began coming to the Partnership requesting advice on matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the most common requests included advice on HR questions, contracts and event cancellations, reviewing lease agreements and the responsibilities of landlords to tenants. We later provided assistance to many nonprofits requesting PPP loans, nonprofits with privacy questions related to moving their programs or board meetings to virtual formats, and helped many nonprofits develop a safe reopening plan. We worked with community partners to develop informative webinars on topics related to the pandemic and have kept an updated webpage on our website. As of June 30, 2021, the Partnership has opened 432 matters and responded to 1023 Legal Resource Helpline queries and offered 21 webinars directly related to the pandemic.
By making legal counsel accessible and affordable, the Partnership ensures that nonprofits never have to choose between the expense of expert legal counsel and the cost of supporting their programs. As poverty levels have risen in suburban communities over the last few decades, the demand on community nonprofits to fill service gaps not yet met by local governments has increased. The saved resources and the confidence that the organization’s programs are operating within the law are vital to the continued operations of many of our client nonprofits.
Unlike other legal services organizations, the Partnership serves nonprofit groups and not individuals and is not eligible for most government grants. Because the majority of the Partnership’s programs are provided free of charge, the Partnership relies on philanthropic contributions from corporations, law firms, foundations, and individuals.
Questions? Please contact Heidi Siesfeld, Director of Development, at 914-328-0674 ext. 326.