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The Charitable Advisory Council

The Charitable Advisory Council was created under the Solicitation for Charity Act (225 ILCS 460/23) to serve, study and advise on issues regarding charitable giving, volunteerism and fundraising in the state of Illinois. The council is a permanent body composed of citizens chosen by the Attorney General.

CAC Charter PDF document

Resources Recommended by the Charitable Advisory Council

This list offers a starting point for individuals seeking assistance in establishing, operating and managing not-for-profit organizations. These are just a few of the many resources and publications available. Listing here is not an endorsement of the organization or its Web content.

Government Resources
Legal Services
Nonprofit Oversight and Databases
Management & Operations Assistance
Additional Resources and Publications

Government Resources

Illinois Attorney General's Office
Under Illinois law, fundraisers and charitable organizations are required to register each year with the Attorney General’s Office. A searchable list of registered charitable organizations is available online and potential donors may then access important information such as income, expenditures, programs and administration before giving to the charity.

Internal Revenue Service
The IRS’s Exempt Organization oversees federal tax exempt status of charities and provides resources, including publications, to help charities with compliance issues.

Illinois Department of Revenue
The primary responsibility of the Department of Revenue is to serve as the tax collection agency for state government and for local governments. The Department of Revenue oversees state sales tax exemption and real estate tax exemption for nonprofit organizations, licenses for raffles and other gaming such as bingo, pull tab and jar games and handles state income tax for organizations with employees.

Illinois Secretary of State
The Secretary of State oversees the incorporation of organizations. A searchable database provided by the Secretary of State’s Department of Business Services includes information regarding corporations, not-for-profit corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships, as well as other business-related information.

The Unified Registration Statement
The Unified Registration Statement (URS) represents an effort to consolidate the information and data requirements of all states that require registration of nonprofit organizations performing charitable solicitations within their jurisdictions. The effort is organized by the National Association of State Charity Officials and the National Association of Attorneys General, and it is one part of the Standardized Reporting Project, whose aim is to standardize, simplify and economize compliance under the states' solicitation laws.

Illinois Department of Employment Security
The Department of Employment Security oversees employment issues. Organizations with employees will need to register with the Illinois Department of Employment Security. makes information and services for nonprofits, including grants, loans, assistance, taxes, management and more, available online.

Legal Services
Not-for-profit organizations may seek reduced-cost or pro bono services from the following legal service providers:

The Law Project
The Law Project (TLP), a project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, provides high-quality legal counsel for nonprofit organizations and small businesses in need of transactional legal assistance. They connect skilled pro bono attorneys with nonprofit organizations and small businesses and work in collaboration with them to ensure that legal goals are met. For nonprofit organizations, they provide assistance with 501(c)(3) tax exemption applications, corporate structure, intellectual property matters (such as obtaining copyrights and/or trademarks), real estate transactions, personnel/employment issues and contractual matters.

Contact Information:
The Law Project, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights
100 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 600
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Lawyers for Creative Arts
Lawyers for Creative Arts (LCA) provides pro bono legal services to qualifying individuals and nonprofit organizations in all areas of the arts—visual, entertainment and performing, literary, education and more.

Contact Information:
213 W. Institute Place, Suite 403
Chicago, Illinois 60610

University of Chicago, Mandel Legal Aid Clinic
The Law School's clinical students serve as advocates for people typically denied access to justice, are responsive to the interests of the poor and render assistance to indigent clients and nonprofit organizations.

Contact Information:
1111 E. 60th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Loyola University of Chicago School of Law’s Business Law Clinic
The Loyola University of Chicago School of Law’s Business Law Clinic (BLC) represents for-profit entities with general business matters and assists not-for-profit organizations with incorporating, obtaining federal tax exempt status, registering with the Illinois Attorney General, applying for state sales tax exemption and other related matters. In partnership with outside counsel, the BLC handles certain intellectual property issues.

Contact Information:
Philip H. Corboy Law Center
25 E. Pearson Street, Suite 1005
Chicago, Illinois 60611

DePaul University College of Law’s Housing & Community Development Clinic
The DePaul University College of Law’s Housing & Community Development Clinic provides transactional assistance to organizations involved in affordable housing and community development.

Contact Information:
Legal Clinics
1 E. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60604-2201

John Marshall Law School’s Business Enterprise Law Clinic
The John Marshall Law School’s Business Enterprise Law Clinic (BELAW) represents persons with limited financial resources, preferably from underserved communities, in connection with business and transactional matters and existing tax exempt not-for-profit organizations. Typical legal services include advice with respect to: choice of entity; structure of ownership, control and financing; business organizational documents; employment and independent contractor agreements; drafting and negotiation of leases and other agreements with third parties; and existing tax exempt not-for-profit organizations. BELAW does not charge for its services. Clients pay filing fees and out-of-pocket expenses.

Contact Information:
315 S. Plymouth Court
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Entrepreneurship Law Center Northwestern University School of Law
The Entrepreneurship Law Center Northwestern University School of Law (the Center) accepts clients ranging from small businesses to high-tech e-commerce enterprises. The Center provides affordable legal advice on matters such as incorporation, trademark registration, copyright protection and contract review. Clients are selected according to several criteria: businesses that can provide students with important and versatile transactional law experience, companies likely to create new jobs for the community and nonprofit organizations providing a unique service.

Contact Information:
750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611-3069

University of Illinois College of Law’s Community Preservation Clinic
The University of Illinois College of Law’s Community Preservation Clinic (Clinic) provides legal support to established and developing nonprofit organizations. Its efforts include the legal formation of new nonprofit organizations such as applications for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, Articles of Incorporation, sales tax exemption, by-laws and name registry. The Clinic also supports established nonprofits within Champaign and McLean counties to review best practices, develop new programs and review current governance.

Contact Information:
College of Law
504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, Illinois 61820

Notre Dame Law School’s Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic
The Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic is focused on assisting clients with intellectual property issues, including patent opinions and applications, trademark opinions and prosecution, as well as copyright and basic contract issues (e.g., software development and website terms of use).

Contact Information:
1112 Eck Hall of Law
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Nonprofit Oversight and Databases
Foundations and private donors often use these oversight websites and databases to learn more about potential grantees:

GuideStar gathers and disseminates information, including tax returns, about IRS-registered nonprofit organizations.

The following organizations rate nonprofit organizations based upon various criteria:

Charity Navigator

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
The American Institute of Philanthropy’s Charity Watch

Management & Operations Assistance

Local Resources

Forefront is a statewide membership association of grant makers, nonprofits and advisors that serves as a resource for networking and education, information and knowledge, and leadership and advocacy on behalf of philanthropy and nonprofits in Illinois. This website also contains a significant number of additional resources.

The Law Project
The Law Project provides free, expert legal assistance to support community development efforts led by entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations that generally do not have the resources to pay for legal services. This website also contains a significant number of additional resources.

Lumity works in Chicagoland to connect nonprofits to resources for technology and financial services and solutions. Lumity hosts the region’s nonprofit job board (, monthly executive director roundtables and the Community Corps’ Matching Service for Nonprofit Volunteer Opportunities in Chicago to match skill-based volunteers to mentoring, training and technology projects at nonprofits and programs with the Chicago public schools.

The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management
The mission of the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University is to enhance performance and effectiveness of organizations and individuals in the nonprofit sector through education, service and resources. The Center offers a variety of programs for professionals who work, volunteer or are transitioning into the nonprofit sector. These include half-day and full-day professional development workshops, an annual symposium, a BootCamp for New Nonprofit CEOs, custom designed workshops for your organization, networking opportunities and some no-cost programs.

Executive Service Corps of Chicago
Executive Service Corps of Chicago enhances the overall impact of Chicago area nonprofits through professional, affordable consulting services enabling them to better meet the needs of those they serve.

University of Illinois Chicago Certificate in Nonprofit Management
The Certificate in Nonprofit Management is an online, professional development program offering a comprehensive suite of non-credit courses for the student of nonprofit management.

Northern Illinois University Center for Non-Governmental Organization Leadership
and Development

In addition to its academic and research work, Northern Illinois University Center for Non-Governmental Organization Leadership and Development (NGOLD) provides outreach and training to nonprofit organizations in the northern Illinois region. NGOLD also connects students and nonprofit organizations for internships, service-learning and volunteer opportunities.

DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership
DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP) is a collaborative effort between Kishwaukee Community College, Kishwaukee United Way, DeKalb County Community Foundation, the NIU Masters of Public Administration Program and NGOLD to provide professional development and access to resources for DeKalb County nonprofit organizations.

University of Illinois Springfield Nonprofit Project
The Nonprofit Project is a part of the Public Administration Department at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The Nonprofit Project offers professional education and training for nonprofit leaders, provides consulting services and conducts theoretical and applied research.

Good Works Connect
Good Works Connect is an online community space and virtual resource center connecting the good work that nonprofits do in Illinois. Good Works Connect regions are primarily in central Illinois, including Macon, East Central Illinois, Land of Lincoln and Southeastern Illinois.

Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations
For a listing of Community Foundations, please visit the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations’ directory at

National Resources

Alliance for Justice

Alliance for Nonprofit Management

American Bar Association's Good Governance Library

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)

Association of Consultants to Nonprofits

Association of Fundraising Professionals

Boardnet USA

Board Source

Council on Foundations

Foundation Center

Independent Sector

National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS)

Additional Resources and Publications

In addition to publications on the Law Project and Forefront websites, the following resources and publications may be of interest:

Starting a Nonprofit

How Do I Create a Nonprofit Corporation?
Is NPO the Way To Go?
A Guide for Organizing Not-For-Profit Corporations

Raising Funds? What You Should Know About Hiring a Professional

Nonprofit Board of Directors
Understanding Not-For-Profit Board Composition
Bylaws Fact Sheet for Illinois Nonprofits
Introduction to Board of Directors Meetings
Volunteer Board Members of Illinois Not-For-Profit Organizations

Running a Nonprofit
A Guide for Nonprofit Organizations – General Charitable Organization Compliance
A Guide for Nonprofit Organizations – Employment Issues

Tax Issues
Tax Issues for Exempt Organizations – A Primer
Fiscal Sponsorship FAQ

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