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Dissolving a Nonprofit Organization


Gain insight into common issues that may arise during dissolution and how to guide an organization through the process from start to finish.

Boards of nonprofit organizations may reach a point where they recognize it is no longer feasible to continue operations. But the directors may not be familiar with the dissolution process or understand that there may be alternatives to that process that may be simpler and sometimes quicker, such as merger, depending on the dissolution processes in their state. The Board members may also not realize that, at least in some states, the organization will have to be in compliance with annual regulatory filings, satisfy all of their debts and obligations (or file for bankruptcy), and ensure that the intended beneficiaries of assets upon dissolution have similar purposes or are willing to restrict the received assets to purposes similar to the dissolving organizations and to even narrower purposes if restricted by the dissolving nonprofit's donors. The topic will describe the general dissolution process and timeline, which varies among the states, explain alternatives and provide tips on ensuring that necessary steps are taken in advance to facilitate a smooth dissolution process. This information is critical to ensure that board members comply with their fiduciary duties to further the purposes of the organization and wind down its operations in compliance with legal requirements.



Anita S. Lichtblau

Anita S. Lichtblau

Casner & Edwards, LLP

  • Partner in nonprofit practice of Casner & Edwards, LLP, Boston
  • Represent hundreds of nonprofit organizations, ranging from small start-up organizations, to large national educational, cultural, human service and health-related membership organizations and trade associations
  • Areas of legal expertise include nonprofit formation and affiliations, government and foundation grants and contracts, tax exemption issues, governance, cy pres and deviation actions, dissolutions, fundraising, lobbying and political activity, and employment and executive compensation
  • Former co-chair of Tax-Exempt Organization Section of Boston Bar Association (“BBA TEO Section”): co-chair of Massachusetts Nonprofit Act reform working group of BBA TEO Section; member of BBA TEO Section Steering Committee
  • Presented workshops and webinars at American Boston Bar Association conference, Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Human Services Providers Council, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Lawyers’ Clearinghouse, and many more conferences
  • Contributed an essay entitled “Endowments or Restricted Gifts: Accessible or Hands-Off?” to the book The Legal Guide to Museum Professionals, edited by Julia Courtney and published in 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield
  • Former executive director/general counsel of Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc. (“CAPLAW”), a national nonprofit organization providing legal training and consultation to over 700 nonprofit Community Action Agencies nationwide
  • Conducted hundreds of workshops and webinars across the U.S. on nonprofit governance and other related topics at state and regional conferences of community action agencies and other nonprofits
  • Wrote numerous articles and other publications for CAPLAW and other community action national organizations, including “Tools for Top-Notch Community Action Agencies: A Practical Approach to Governance and Financial Excellence”
  • Former general counsel of large human services nonprofit organization in Boston
  • Graduate of Harvard Law School and Cornell University
  • Can be contacted at 617-426-5900 ext. 362 or [email protected]

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