Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Over the past year, GCs at the nation’s largest charities have helped coordinate some of the biggest relief efforts ever launched in the nonprofit world. Meeting those Herculean challenges has also meant grappling with a host of novel legal issues. At the New York Community Trust, the legal department’s first task was to help define the group’s mission. To set up the September 11th Fund (a joint venture with the United Way), NYCT General Counsel Jane Wilton had to draft a legal definition that would spell out exactly who would receive assistance from the fund. The big question for Wilton and her colleagues: Would aid go just to survivors, or to a broader group less directly affected by the attacks? Wilton remembered the advice of Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, which responded to the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. “Nancy told us to think long term and address the greater needs of the community, not just define our mission around the victims,” Wilton says. Ultimately, the September 11th Fund decided to give grants not just to the relatives of those killed in the terrorist attacks, but also to workers and residents who were injured or displaced as a result of the tragedy. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, Wilton made sure that donors were informed, through press releases and the fund’s Web site, that their contributions would go to a wide range of recipients. SURVIVOR STATUS The Twin Towers Fund had to deal with a more nuanced twist on the issue of whom to aid: determining the legal status of some applicants. A brand-new charity established last fall by Rudy Giuliani, the fund is headed by Larry Levy, an ex-deputy counsel to the former New York City mayor. Levy says that his organization initially recognized requests only from the surviving members of couples who were married or who had registered as domestic partners under New York City law. But the fund’s rule left out about 40 other survivors whose legal status was less clear-cut: both heterosexual fianc�s who were engaged to a victim, as well as gay survivors who hadn’t registered at City Hall with their partners. Levy and M. Antoinette Thomas — a partner at New York’s Carter, Ledyard & Milburn who worked as the fund’s GC on a pro bono basis — sought guidance from other charities that had dealt with the issue before. Thomas and Levy then drafted new criteria that will allow an applicant to show that he or she had a relationship with a victim by proving economic co-dependency, as through shared bills. In the midst of providing relief, other organizations were able to turn roadblocks into new public policies. Victoria Bjorklund, outside general counsel for The Robin Hood Foundation, hit an obstacle while setting up grants for small businesses in lower Manhattan. The IRS has traditionally considered these types of gifts to be taxable income (charitable grants to individuals are generally ruled to be nontaxable). A BREAK FROM THE IRS But Bjorklund, a partner at New York’s Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, decided to challenge the IRS on its policy. The 9/11 Task Force of the American Bar Association (on which Bjorklund sits) also joined the fight. The group submitted supporting research to the IRS and sent a representative to testify before Congress. Ironically, the good news came on April 15. In a precedent-setting letter, the IRS ruled that grants given to Manhattan businesses hurt by last fall’s attacks would not be considered taxable income. Like her colleagues at other charities, Bjorklund was happy that her expertise and persistence paid off. “We did everything we could to help people and businesses [remain] downtown,” she says. Mission accomplished.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.