Unprecedented adversity calls for unprecedented response

Moments after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino heard of the terrorist bombing at the marathon’s finish line, he knew something had to be done for the survivors. After contacting Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the two proposed the creation of a single fund with all proceeds going directly to survivors and families of those killed in the attack. Within 24 hours of the bombing, organizers turned to Goodwin for help in establishing the fund.

Goodwin’s Tax-Exempt Organization Practice quickly set to work, contacting officials with the IRS to expedite the process. But securing the charitable organization status proved more difficult than expected. The IRS restricts what donations charitable organizations can make to individuals in the context of disaster relief. Goodwin worked closely with the IRS to create a legal mechanism within the context of 501(c)(3) which enabled the One Fund to qualify for charitable status. And on May 14 – less than a month after the attack – the One Fund received its 501(c)(3) certification from the IRS.

Within 48 hours of the attack, over $10 million in donations had poured in. By the end of the campaign, more than $80 million went directly to survivors and victims’ families without a single dollar spent on overhead. Corporations donated millions. School children sent in pennies. Businesses and professionals made in-kind donations. Support for the One Fund was inspiring and unprecedented, and its creation led to a unique legal model that can be used to assist others in future tragedies.