Ask Charities Bureau Chief Sheehan Your Questions

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 -
9:00am to 11:00am EST
Philanthropy New York, 1500 Broadway, 7th Floor, NYC
Members of PNY & Partner Orgs: 
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This program is a part of the Legal Series from our PNY Core:

James Sheehan was appointed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to lead the New York State Charities Bureau in January 2014, and his first focus was the  implementation and enforcement of the Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013. The NPRA was the first major revision of New York’s nonprofit law in many decades and as a result, there remain many open questions about the law and its enforcement.

Now, all Philanthropy New York members will have an opportunity to pose questions to Charities Bureau Chief James Sheehan (either directly or anonymously) in a conversation moderated by Erica Guyer, Associate General Counsel of The Rockefeller Foundation and co-chair of Philanthropy New York’s Foundation Lawyers Group.

Sheehan directs the Charities Bureau’s affirmative investigations and litigation, its review of sales, mergers and dissolutions of nonprofits, and its representation of the interests of charitable beneficiaries in trusts and estates matters. Additionally, he continues to lead efforts to clarify and enforce the Nonprofit Revitalization Act.

The program will begin with a short presentation by Sheehan, followed by moderated discussion, with Guyer posing unattributed questions that Philanthropy New York members have submitted. Members in attendance at this closed-door private meeting will also be able to pose direct questions to Sheehan themselves. Any member can pose a question ahead of the program by emailing and those who RSVP for the program will be prompted to submit questions in the days preceding the event. 

Some of the issues we expect to discuss include:

  • How the Charities Bureau is interpreting the Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 provisions that have been most problematic for foundations, with a special focus on conflicts of interest policies and the compliance challenges faced by family foundations?
  • What are the other Nonprofit Revitalization Act compliance issues that that the Charities Bureau routinely encounters both among foundations and the wider nonprofit community?
  • What did the Bureau learn from the William Rapfogel/Met Council kickback scandal and how is it putting that learning into enforcement action?
  • What are the Bureau’s most important ongoing activities that have not received much coverage, but which foundations should be aware?
  • Given the very high profile news coverage of the Clinton and Trump foundations over the past year and reports of inappropriate use of foundation funds at the Trump Foundation in particular, is the Charities Bureau looking any differently at philanthropic organizations, especially private foundations?
  • What role, if any, will the Charities Bureau or the Attorney General’s Office play if New York State agencies fail to comply with OMB Guidance on Indirect Costs?
  • What role is the Charities Bureau playing in enforcing the legislation signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2016 requiring the disclosure of donors names to 501(c)(4) groups, including the names of donors to the 501(c)(3)s that give to c4s, even if those donors to the c3 for general operating support or project support unrelated to the c4.
  • Is the Charities Bureau pursuing any cases in the state to eliminate an organization’s nonprofit tax exemption, and if so, what do those cases say about the Bureau’s enforcement priorities?

We know this will be a very valuable and engaging session.  Please plan on joining us by registering for the program.  

  • Current activities and ongoing work of the Charities Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office
  • Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 ongoing enforcement issues for foundations and nonprofits
  • Recent foundation controversies and what the AG’s office has learned from them
  • New York’s recent restrictions on nonprofit advocacy and new donor reporting requirements for nonprofits
  • All other anonymous questions submitted by members


Designed for

All interested funders.


8:45 - 9:00 AM  Check-in
9:00 - 11:00 AM  Program

Registration is required by January 24th.

Members: To register yourself and/or a colleague at your organization, please log in and click the Register Now link above. (no fee)

Guests of Organizers: Please email with your name, title, organizational affiliation, business mailing address, and phone number. Please indicate by which organizer you were invited. (no fee)

Non-Member Funders: Please email ($150 fee).


Please email with any questions.