For information and resources see our COVID-19 Support Page. If your small business or nonprofit needs COVID-19 related legal or capacity building help, contact us.

How to Apply to Legal Services

Here’s how your nonprofit or community group can get free or low-cost legal services.

STEP 1: Determine if we offer services for the legal issues you need.

Types of Legal Issues Communities Rise helps with:

  • Incorporation and application for tax exemption status under IRS Code sec. 501(c)(3).
  • Nonprofit Governance – Preparing and revising bylaws; creating articles of incorporation; creating conflict of interest policies; creating whistleblower policies, and creating other corporate documents and policies; and advising on good corporate governance.
  • Maintenance and Compliance – Advice on maintaining 501(c)(3) status, including unrelated business income and compliance with lobbying restrictions.
  • Taxes – Advice regarding federal, state, and local taxes.
  • Contracts – Drafting and advising on business contracts.
  • Employment – Preparing, reviewing and revising personnel policies, employment contracts, and confidentiality agreements.
  • Real Estate – Help with property leases and purchase and sale agreements.
  • Intellectual Property – Assistance with registering trademarks, and advising on copyright protection, license agreements, or website-related agreements. However, we do not provide assistance on patent matters.
  • Risk and Liability Assessment – Assistance on risk and liability assessment including waiver and release forms, and advice on insurance coverage.
  • Federal Tax-Exempt Status – Assistance in applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

What Communities Rise does not do:

  • Litigation Matters – CR does not provide assistance on litigation matters.
  • Individual Claims against Nonprofits – CR does not provide assistance to individuals with their pursuit of claims against nonprofit and community organizations.
  • Legal Matters for Individuals – CR does not provide assistance to individuals in their personal legal matters in areas such as family law, immigration, foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc.
  • Legal Advice Over the Phone – CR is not a “hotline” service. We only provide legal assistance upon receiving a written application. However, we are available to answer questions about the application process over the phone or by email.

STEP 2: Determine if you qualify based on our nonprofit eligibility.

Existing Organizations (Nonprofits or CBOs that have been already established):

To be eligible for free legal services, an existing organization must demonstrate that it:

  • Has a primarily charitable or community-based purpose, and
  • Is a 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, and
  • Is unable to pay for legal fees without significant impairment of program resources, and
  • Seeks legal assistance on a business or organizational matter, but not on any legal issue related to current or expected litigation.

Start-Up Organizations (those looking for assistance in creating a new nonprofit or getting 501c3 tax-exempt status):

To be eligible for free legal services, a start-up organization must demonstrate that it:

  • Satisfies the above requirements for an “Existing Organization” and
  • Has potential viability by providing:
    • A mission statement,
    • A board of directors roster,
    • 3-year budget,
    • Business plan, and
    • A clear description of program services or activities that the new organization will engage.

STEP 3: Submit an Application

If you are an eligible Existing Organization, there are two ways to submit:

  • Mail a completed Existing Nonprofit Application and $100 non-refundable application fee.
  • Email a completed Existing Nonprofit Application to and mail non-refundable $100 fee or call to pay online (service fee may be added).

If you are an eligible Start-Up Organization, there are three ways to submit:

  • Submit your application and payment online.
  • Email a completed Start-Up Application to and mail the $100 non-refundable or call to pay online (service fee may be added).
  • Mail a completed Start-Up Application and non-refundable $100 application fee by post.