The NCPL was established at NYU School of Law to explore a broad range of legal issues affecting the nation’s nonprofit sector and to provide an integrated examination of the legal doctrines related to the activities of charitable organizations. The value of the NCPL extends far beyond the NYU community; the NCPL truly operates for the benefit of the international philanthropic community. Scholars, students, practitioners, and nonprofit organizations worldwide have benefited both directly and indirectly from the resources provided by the NCPL.
The NCPL was founded in 1988 by Professor Harvey P. Dale as the Program on Philanthropy and the Law. The Program initially was funded through a generous grant that provided sufficient funding for all of its operations during its first seven years. During the sixth year of the seven-year trial period, an evaluation team was formed to provide a formal evaluation of the NCPL based on site visits to the Center at NYU Law School, and interviews with NYU law students, faculty, and other NCPL participants. The team determined that the NCPL served a vital role in the nonprofit sector and should seek funding to become a permanent academic center.
In 1996, the Program was incorporated as the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law, Inc., qualifying under Internal Revenue Code sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(3) as a public charity and a supporting organization for New York University. In 2004, the NCPL commissioned a second external evaluation of its activities to determine both the NCPL’s positive impact on the field of nonprofit law and how it could improve that impact.
The NCPL is developing a unified field of study that provides central focus and leadership to curriculum development, scholarly research, conferences, and career development in the nonprofit sector. This approach is intended to add to and improve the overall quality of education and scholarship among law students, legal scholars, nonprofit organizations, practicing attorneys, judges, executives, administrators, and other professionals in the field.