As a benefit of membership, GCRI members are eligible to receive legal support through United Philanthropy Forum at a reduced cost.
The Forum launched the Foundation Legal Help Desk a year ago for community foundations, and now that the pilot phase has concluded, the program is being expanded to serve private foundations as well. The Help Desk is operated by our colleagues at the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance.
The Help Desk is designed to provide foundations with access to answers to legal questions related to the operations of a foundation. The foundation world is a complex field that requires specialized legal knowledge and many foundations do not have easy access to an attorney with expertise in this field.
How Does it Work?
The service operates through a website. Participants log in with a username and password and type in their question. The software will send it to the attorney “on-call” for their topic area. The attorney will respond either with a written answer or will make arrangements for a phone conversation.
The attorneys providing this service have specialized knowledge in grantmaking, scholarships, fund management, planned giving, nonprofit law, the Pension Protection Act, UPMIFA and other laws that specifically affect the operations of a foundation.
- This service is designed to provide quick answers to questions and is limited to a maximum of one hour on any one question. The attorney will be able to advise the foundation if they need to engage counsel to assist them with a complex legal issue or gift.
- The attorney will engage directly with foundation staff or board members, and will not work directly with donors or professional advisors.
- The attorney can review documents but will not prepare any documents.
- This service is for legal questions that relate to the operation of a foundation, not legal issues facing a foundation’s grantees.
Foundations will contact IPA directly to subscribe to the service, and IPA will provide them with a subscription agreement. Once they send the agreement back to IPA with their payment, IPA will provide them with their login credentials. IPA will let you know when any of your members sign up for the service, and will provide each PSO with an annual report on usage by your members and the topic areas of questions handled.
Service Levels and Costs