May 15, 2003 Regular News Nonprofits rely on pro bono help Nonprofits rely on pro bono help When it comes to needing legal advice, Florida’s nonprofit community relies largely on pro bono rather than paid legal counsel, according to results of a joint survey conducted by The Florida Bar, and the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations.In a recent statewide poll of 161 Florida nonprofit organizations, more than 95 percent of respondents said legal counsel is very important in the organizations’ operations and 62 percent said that they rely on pro bono help rather than paid legal counsel.“The Florida Bar and FANO conducted this survey because we wanted to measure the level of nonmonetary support provided by lawyers to Florida’s nonprofit organizations, which are often the backbone of social services in our communities,” said Bar President Tod Aronovitz. “When you consider that Florida is home to more than 38,000 charitable and educational nonprofits, the value of the pro bono legal services imparted can be measured in the tens of millions of dollars.”The poll showed nearly 70 percent of the nonprofits benefit from pro bono legal services, including counsel on such issues as employment, contract negotiations, and fundraising. Almost 20 percent indicated their organizations receive more than 100 hours of pro bono legal counsel in a year, while six percent obtain more than 250 hours.“Lawyers have traditionally played a vital role in the success of nonprofits, as advisors, contributors and leaders,” said Marina Pavlov, president of the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations. “It was not surprising to learn that two-thirds of nonprofits surveyed have an attorney serving on its board or as an officer of the organization, while fewer than 17 percent have a paid attorney on staff.”Pavlov said because of today’s economic climate and the decline in funding, nonprofits fortunate to have access to pro bono legal counsel are at a competitive advantage and better able to serve their communities.“This survey truly illustrates the legal profession’s commitment to giving back to the community and, by actively participating inb nonprofit organizations and providing pro bono services, helping to create a brighter future for our state,” Aronovitz said.The Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations assists Florida’s 38,000 nonprofits in strengthening their leadership, management, financial and public policy ability to reach their missions. These organizations contribute $31 billion in expenditures to the state’s economy.
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