Legal Services

  • Nonprofit formation, charitable registration, application for federal and state tax-exemption

  • Fiscal sponsorship, including comprehensive and pre-approved grant relationship models

  • Board duties and governance, including design of governance structures and board trainings

  • Bylaws and governance policy creation and review

  • Conflict of interest management and counsel, including on potential self-dealing issues

  • 501(c)(3) compliance, including operational test and consistent activities issues

  • Related and unrelated business activities, unrelated business income tax (UBIT) issues

  • Advocacy, lobbying, and political activities for 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), and other exempt organizations

  • Private foundation rules, including related to distributions, international activities, set-asides

  • Donor-advised fund rules for sponsoring organizations and donors

  • Endowments and gift planning, including matters related to charitable remainder trusts and charitable gift annuities

  • Supporting organization issues

  • Mergers and acquisitions

  • Affiliations and collaborations, including 501(c)(3) - 501(c)(4) tandems

  • Subsidiaries and joint ventures with commercial partners

  • International activity issues

  • Charitable solicitation, commercial co-ventures, and crowdfunding and other online fundraising issues

  • Dissolution and transfer of programs and remaining assets


We provide representation to a selected group of startup nonprofits, including drafting of governing documents, guidance regarding initial actions of the incorporator and board of directors, counsel regarding planned activities and compliance issues, registration with the Registry of Charitable Trusts (if applicable), and preparation of applications for recognition of exemption. Before representing a startup nonprofit, we assess whether the founders have taken reasonable care to plan for continued viability and may consider such factors as the number of independent board members, startup capital, experience in raising funds, and the general business plan.

Board trainings

We provide on-site board trainings to charities and foundations on a variety of nonprofit corporate, tax, and charitable trust law matters. Our trainings may cover general nonprofit corporate governance matters or very specific issues facing the organization. Our senior attorneys are all experienced speakers who know how to work together with executives and their boards to provide the right training session for each of our clients with a focus on engaging dialogue and critical thinking.

Legal Audits

We help organizations with a checkup on their status to conduct business and raise charitable funds in California; their tax status with the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board; their activities and whether they are consistent with their governing documents and bases for tax-exemption; their governance structures, policies, and practices; and other nonprofit law compliance issues.

Speaking Engagements


Nonprofit Law Hot Topics, Social Enterprise Law Seminar - 10/11/19 - Gene

DEI, Governance, and Grantmaking - Northern California Planned Giving Council Annual Conference - 5/17/19 - Erin & Gene

Governance and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - The Sanford Institute of Philanthropy - 5/2/19 - Gene

Key State Tax and Regulatory Issues for Charitable Organizations - Georgetown Nonprofit Governance (Washington DC) - Erin

Maximizing Nonprofit Impact: 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) Affiliations (Webinar) - American Law Institute CLE - Erin

Practical Strategies to Increase Board Diversity (Webinar) - Lorman Education Services - Gene

The Role of Ethics in Public Service - Alameda County Bar Association - Gene

Predictapalooza: Civil society forecast 2019 - Digital Civil Society Lab at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society - Gene

Lawyers Serving on a Non-Profit Board: Issue Spotting and 2019 Ethics Update - Bar Association of San Francisco - Erin/Gene

Earned Income Issues and Guidance for California Nonprofits (Webinar) - Lawline - Gene


Affiliated 501(c)(3)and 501(c)(4) Organizations - Western Conference on Tax-Exempt Organizations (Los Angeles) - Erin

Cryptocurrencies - Western Conference on Tax-Exempt Organizations (Los Angeles) - Gene (moderator)

Lobbying, Advocacy, and Election Activities: What a Fiscal Sponsor Needs to Know - National Network of Fiscal Sponsors National Gathering (Seattle) - Erin

Nonprofit Law: Ch-ch-ch-changes! - CalNonprofits Annual Convention (Los Angeles) - Gene

Hot Topics to Keep Your Nonprofit Out of Hot Water (Webinar) - CalNonprofts - Erin

Crowdfunding and Your Charity: Legal Traps and Tips from a Nonprofit Lawyer (Webinar) - Affinity Fundraising Registration - Gene

Strategic Advocacy Using Affiliated 501(c)(3)and 501(c)(4) Organizations - Georgetown Nonprofit Governance (Washington DC) - Gene

Nonprofit M&A - 2018 American Bar Association, Business Section Spring Meeting (Orlando) - Erin

Risk Management - 2018 ABA Bar Leadership Institute (Chicago) - Gene

Representing Charitable Nonprofits: Formation and Exemption - Continuing Education of the Bar - California- Erin & Gene

Big Changes to the Tax Law - Financial Professionals Network - CompassPoint -  Erin & Gene

Social Media: Legal Issues & Practical Guidance for Nonprofits (Webinar) - Clear Law Institute - Gene

So You Wanna Join a Nonprofit Board?: Ethical Issue Spotting for Younger Lawyers - Bar Association of San Francisco (Litigation Section, Barristers Club) - Erin


Crowdfunding and Your Nonprofit – Legal Tips and Traps, BoardSource Leadership Forum - Erin

Crowdfunding, National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) Annual Meeting (Washington DC) - Gene

Flash Class: Lobbying, Advocacy & Political Activities for 501(c)(3)s, DonorSearch (Webinar) - Erin

Nonprofit Law, Lawyers as Social Innovators, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology - Gene

Top 10 Landmines Lawyers Can Trigger When Advising Nonprofit Organization, State Bar of California 2017 Section Convention (San Diego) - Erin

Nonprofit Social Media Policy: What Should be Addressed? Lorman (Live Webinar) - Gene

Philanthropic and Nonprofit Advocacy, AAPIP Annual Convening - Gene

Nonprofits and Earned Income 101: Practical and Legal Considerations, NonprofitWebAdvisor (Webinar) - Erin

Forming a California Nonprofit, Lawline (Webinar) - Erin

Earned Income Issues and Guidance for California Nonprofits, Lawline (Webinar) - Gene


Winding Down/Gearing Up: 10 Legal Tips to Get 2017 Ready, Foundation Center (Livestream) - Michele & Gene

Nonprofit Crowdfunding, Western Conference on Tax-Exempt Organizations (Los Angeles) - Gene (moderator)

Crowdfunding, Meeting of the Phoenix Group - General counsel for some of America's biggest charities (Atlanta) - Gene

Why Donor Advised Funds and Supporting Organizations are a Gift Planner’s Friend, National Conference of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (Dallas) - Brigit

Complexities of Starting a Nonprofit in California, Lorman (Live Webinar) - Erin

Hot Topics to Keep Nonprofits Out of Hot Water, CalNonprofits Annual Convention (Los Angeles) - Gene

Northwest Planned Giving Roundtable Annual Conference (Portland) - Brigit

Legal and Ethical Crowdfunding for Non-profits: Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Best Practices, ABA Center for Professional Development - Gene

Lobbying, Advocacy & Political Activities of Exempt Organizations, CalCPA NPO Cmt - SF - Erin/Gene

Legal Careers Outside the Box, Continuing Education of the Bar - California - Gene

Ask a Nonprofit Lawyer: Governance & Bylaws, Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance - Erin

Nonprofit Law Primer for Emerging Leaders, NEO Law Group - Michele

Duties and Responsibilities of Serving on a Nonprofit Board, Bar Association of San Francisco - Gene

What You Need to Know about Social Media and Nonprofits (Webinar), Clear Law Institute - Gene


Current Developments - The Bakers' Dozen, Western Conference on Tax-Exempt Organizations (Los Angeles) - Gene

Nonprofit Board Scandals and the Lessons Learned, BoardSource Leadership Forum (New Orleans) - Erin

Legal Session, National Network of Fiscal Sponsors Annual Gathering (New York City) - Gene

10 Rules Your Nonprofit Needs to Know for 2016, Annual Policy Convention, CalNonprofits - Gene

Learn How to Form a Nonprofit, Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance - Erin

Opening Plenary - Threads, Independent Sector National Conference (Miami) - Gene

Top Five Hot Legal Topics for 501(c)(3) Organizations (webinar), American Law Institute - Erin

Nonprofit Legal Structures and Compliance Issues, CalCPA Nonprofit Interest Group, South Bay - Michele/Gene

Nonprofit 101: Forming a Nonprofit & Apply for Tax Exemption Under IRC Section 501(c)(3), MyLawCLE (Miami) - Erin

Social Media for Nonprofits (webinar), American Law Institute - Gene

Easy Steps to Accelerate Impact Through Advocacy, 501(c)onference, Center for Nonprofit Management (Los Angeles) - Erin

Diverse Views on Social Impact Financing, National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Every Child Succeeds (Washington DC) - Gene

Starting a Nonprofit: The Basic Legal Considerations, California Family Resource Association - Erin

Hot Topic Call: Risk Assessment for Model A Fiscal Sponsors, National Network of Fiscal Sponsors - Gene

Nonprofit Law: Hot Topics, Continuing Education of the Bar, State Bar of California - Erin/Gene

Nonprofit Basics: Tips From a Laywer, Community Leaders Summit, Community Leaders Summit, Parents Club on Board, - Erin


Profit for Good: How Social Enterprise Policy Affects You, Independent Sector Public Policy Action Institute (Seattle) - Gene

Hot Topic Call: Legal Issues, National Network of Fiscal Sponsors - Gene

Understanding UBIT: What Does It Mean for Your Shared Space? Nonprofit Centers Network - Erin

Fiscal Sponsorship: New Practices, New Solutions, Grantmakers in the Arts Annual Conference (Houston) - Gene

Hot Topics in Fiscal Sponsorship, Nonprofit Organizations Committee, State Bar of California - Gene

Navigating Legal and Ethical Issues, New Grantmakers Institute, Northern California Grantmakers - Erin/Gene

Mastering Corporate Entity Formation, Rossdale CLE - Gene

Hot Topics in Nonprofit Law, CalNonprofits Policy Convention (Los Angeles) - Gene

Traps for the Unwary, American Bar Association, Bar Leadership Institute (Chicago) - Gene

Can My Business Be A Nonprofit? Foundation Center - Erin

Earned Income 101 for Nonprofits, Lawline - Erin

Small Charities – Problems and Solutions, American Bar Association, Tax Section Mid-Year Meeting (Phoenix) - Gene

Nonprofit Governance: Committees, Finance Professionals Network/HR Network, CompassPoint - Erin/Gene


Social Enterprises: Tax Implications, Nonprofit Finance & Accounting Symposium, GWSCPA (Washington DC) - Gene

UBIT Lessons from the College and University Report, Western Conference on Tax-Exempt Organizations (Los Angeles) - Gene

Social Enterprises: Nonprofit vs. For-Profit, BoardSource Leadership Forum (Los Angeles) - Gene

Hybrid Models: What Does the Future Hold? Net Impact Annual Conference (San Jose) - Gene

Legal Issues Facing Nonprofit Start-Up Organizations, Foundation Center – San Francisco - Erin

Why you Need a Social Media Policy, Social Media for Nonprofits - Gene

Nuts and Bolts of Nonprofits and Their People, Alliance for Community Media National Conference - Gene

Lessons Learned from Recent Nonprofit Scandals, Association for Donor Relations Professionals - Gene


Emerging Leaders Compliance Program, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership (Jan, May, Oct)

Organizing and Advising Nonprofits, Continuing Education of the Bar, State Bar of California

Legal & Policy Considerations for Social Media Use, Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence 7th Annual Conference (Memphis)

Legal Questions and Strategies, Mid-Year Meeting, U.S. Green Building Council (San Antonio)

Nonprofit Advocacy: Lobbying and Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3)s, Nonprofit Webinars

Benefit & Flexible Purpose Corporations, CompassPoint Briefing

Considerations in Selecting an Appropriate Legal Entity for a Social Enterprise, Lawline

Nonprofit Organizations for Musicians, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Earned Income 101 for Nonprofits, Nonprofit Webinars


Starting & Representing a Nonprofit - Pro Bono Issues, Bar Association of San Francisco

Social Enterprises, Net Impact Annual Conference (Portland)

Social Enterprises, Santa Barbara County Bar Association

Emerging Legal Questions in Today's Boardroom, BoardSource Leadership Forum (Atlanta)

Adopting Earned Revenue Strategies to Bolster Revenue, CompassPoint Nonprofit Day

Hybrid Social Enterprises, Nonprofit Organizations Committee, State Bar of California

Legal Issues for Nonprofit Startups, Foundation Center - San Francisco

Understanding the L3C, Bar Association of San Francisco

Lobbying and Advocacy Activities of Exempt Organizations, CalCPA, East Bay- Nonprofit Interest Group

Fiscal Sponsorship for Arts Organizations, ODC Theater

Leadership Through Board Service, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network - SFBA

Legal Risks for Nonprofit Boards, American Bar Association, Bar Leadership Institute (Chicago)

Duties and Responsibilities of Serving on a Nonprofit Board, Bar Association of San Francisco

Emerging Leaders Compliance Program, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership

Lobbying and Advocacy Activities of Exempt Organizations, CalCPA, Peninsula - Nonprofit Interest Group


Advocacy Law, Marin Community Foundation Social Change Grantees, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership

Nonprofit Dissolutions, Mergers & Consolidations, Volunteer Legal Services Program, Bar Association of San Francisco

Lobbying and Advocacy Activities of Exempt Organizations, CalCPA - Silicon Valley Nonprofit Interest Group

501(c)(3) Compliance, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California Conference

Legal Issues Affecting Nonprofits, Emerging Leaders Compliance Program, Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership

ReVisioning Value Conference, At the Intersection of Purpose & Profit, Springboard Innovation (Portland)

Duties of Serving on the Board of a Nonprofit Corporation, Lawline

The Legal Foundation for Civil Society in American Law, Stanford University Public Policy class

Alternatives to a Nonprofit: Choices and Conversions, AAPIP - National Gender and Equity Campaign

Duties & Responsibilities of Serving on a Nonprofit Board, Bar Association of San Francisco 

Alternatives to Starting a Nonprofit, Foundation Center - San Francisco

Earlier Events (selected)

Legal Panel on Fiscal Sponsorship, National Network of Fiscal Sponsors Annual Gathering

Responsibilities & Duties of Directors of Nonprofits, American Bar Association, Business Law Today

Seizing the Moment: A multimedia journalism training conference, The Renaissance Journalism Center and Zero Divide

Social Enterprises, Northern California Planned Giving Council 

Effective Representation of Pro Bono Clients, Legal Services for Entrepreneurs, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

A Solid Foundation:  Best Practices in Governance, Western Museums Association Annual Meeting

Not Shaken or Stirred: Legal Issues in Accounting, Western Museums Association Annual Meeting 

Legal Issues Affecting Nonprofits, AAPIP Post-911 Civic Engagement Fund - Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Basics, Best Practices and Trends in Nonprofit Corporate Governance, American Bar Association Annual Meeting

Do Your Fundraising Activities Comply With the Law? CompassPoint

Do’s and Don’ts of Earned Income, CBO Center

Insurance and Risk Management, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

Nonprofit Joint Ventures,

Tax-Exempt Organizations in California, Lorman Education Services

Keeping Up With the Law, California Association of Nonprofits

Public Charities in California, Lorman Education Services

What Every Trusts and Estates Attorney Needs to Know About Nonprofits, Bar Association of San Francisco

Duties and Responsibilities of Serving on a Nonprofit Board, Bar Association of San Francisco

Business Law Basics, U.S. Small Business Administration

Published Works

In addition to works in the Nonprofit Law Blog and Erin Bradrick’s column in The Daily Journal -

How can the board of a bar association prevent and respond to sexual harassment? ABA Bar Leader (2018)

The Sale of Charitable Assets to a For-Profit to Further Exempt Purposes: The Legal Considerations, Taxation of Exempts (2018)

Thinking about serving on a board? Alameda County Bar Association Blog (2017)

Shared Leadership: A Lawyer's Perspective, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2017)

Crowdfunding: Considerations and Issues for Nonprofits, EO Tax Journal (2016)

SOCAP16 and the Continued Evolution of Impact Investing, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

Churches & Political Activity: The Call to Repeal the Johnson Amendment, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

Understanding ‎Crowdfunding after a Tragedy, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

Regulation in the United States: A Complex Picture, Charity Finance (2016), referenced here

Program-Related Investments: Will New Regulations Result in Greater and Better Use? The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

The Ongoing Overhead Myth and the Dangers of Overly Zealous State Legislators, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

The Deposed “King” of Queens Library: The Legacy of Bad Nonprofit Leadership, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

Fiscal Sponsorship: A Balanced Overview, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2016)

New California Regulation Poses Threat to Nonprofits Not Properly Registered, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2015)

Nonprofit Scandals and the Lesson Learned, BoardSource, Exceptional Boards (2015)

Fiscal Sponsorship: What You Should Know and Why You Should Know It, ABA Business Law Today (2015)

Basic Legal Considerations Before Launching a Planned-Giving Program, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2015)

Fair or Foul: A Review of Federal Tax Laws Governing Unfair Competition, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2014)

12 Reasons Why You Should Gracefully Resign from a Nonprofit Board, The Nonprofit Quarterly (2014)

10 Issues To Address In Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Policy, The Nonprofit Times (2014)

Conference Recap: 501(c)(4)s and Public Policy: What You Need to Know, Independent Sector Blog (2014)

Social Enterprises: Nonprofit vs. For-Profit, BoardSource (2013)

Breakout Session Recap: Key Issues in Tax Reform, Independent Sector Blog (2013)

Step by Step Guide for Starting a California Nonprofit, CalNonprofits (2013)

Basic Board Governance Failures Stand at the Center of the Penn State Debacle, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2012)

What Board Members Should Know About Reviewing a Form 990, American Bar Association (2012)

“I Thought We Were Friends!” Can Nonprofits Terminate Employees for Their Social Media Posts? The Nonprofit Quarterly (2012)

Avoiding Trouble: What Nonprofits Can Learn From Sex-Abuse Scandal, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2011)

'Three Cups of Tea' Scandal Offers Lessons for Charities and Trustees, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2011)

Alternatives to Forming a Charitable Nonprofit, ABA Business Law Today (2009)

Can Nonprofit Boards Vote by Email? Blue Avocado (2009)

The Importance of Board Meeting Attendance, Nonprofit Conversation (2009)

Group Exemptions Demystified, Taxation of Exempts (2008)

Corporate Governance for Nonprofits, The Practical Lawyer (2008)

* See also Law for Change and ScaleChange for reprints of selected posts from the Nonprofit Law Blog

VIDEOS - neo youtube channel

Erin Bradrick hosts a series of YouTube videos with tips for nonprofits.


Gene Takagi contributes regularly to Nonprofit Radio hosted by Tony Martignetti with 10,000 listeners every week.