Jackie Stanley, a graduate of Wake Forest University Law School (1990) is committed to doing work that matters. Since launching DoWorkThatMatters.org in 2010, she has helped hundreds of organizations obtain their 501(c)(3) tax exemption. She also serves on the board of a local nonprofit organization, is a volunteer on a free attorney hotline, and conducts free monthly legal self-help workshops. Jackie has co-authored and authored 11 books including How to Start Business in North Carolina and North Carolina Nonprofit Law: A Concise Guide to Everything a Founder Needs to Know.
About Jackie: The expanded version
Where did your legal career begin?
After passing the bar exam in the fall of 1990, I began my legal career at Legal Services of North Carolina. As a legal aid attorney, I represented women who had been victims of domestic violence and low-income people who could not afford legal representation in custody and landlord tenant disputes.
What did you do next?
I left legal aid after seven years (give a take a few months) and launched my career as solo practitioner. My law practice initially focused on family law. After a few years, I decided to expand my practice to include assisting nonprofits in fulfilling their mission and charitable purpose by helping them obtain their tax exemption.
Why did you launch DoWorkThatMatters.org?
As you might imagine, family law disputes are often highly contentious and extremely stressful. After a few years in private practice, I began seeking a way to reduce the amount of time I spent in the trenches of divorce court. I initially flirted with the idea of starting a nonprofit, but I could not decide on its mission and purpose. After spending a few months struggling with what direction it would take, I decided that I could live vicariously through other nonprofit founders by helping them obtain their tax exemption.
How many nonprofit organizations have you helped obtain their 501(c)(3) tax exemption?
I don’t know the exact number but if I had to guess (I stopped counting at 200) I would say about 350.
Do you have any experience serving on a nonprofit board of directors?
Yes; over the years, I have served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Four years ago, I joined the board of directors of the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) in Greensboro, North Carolina. The WRC, which was founded in 1990s, is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization whose mission is to promote the self-reliance of women by assessing needs, providing support, and acting as a gateway to community services.
If you could have dinner with one non-profit founder, who would it be?
That’s easy, Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson is the Harvard-trained lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, an “organization that challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system and creates hope.”
I had never heard of Stevenson until one day, last summer, when I was standing in line at Starbucks and I did something I never do: I picked up and purchased one of the books on sale at the register. It was Stevenson’ s New York Times bestselling memoir Just Mercy. I read the book in three sittings and I have reread it a few times since.
I am in awe of Stevenson’s commitment to doing work that matters by devoting his professional life to advocating on behalf of juvenile defendants, death row inmates, and people who have been wrongfully convicted.
If you could offer advice to someone who is considering starting a non-profit what would it be?
That’s also easy. My advice is this: go deep, not wide. And by that, I mean instead of trying to save the world from all that ails it, focus on doing one thing. Think about it this way: which goal do you think it will be easier for an organization to accomplish: helping disadvantaged children throughout the world or providing disadvantaged children in your state with the school supplies they need to succeed in school?
What do your clients say about you?
Sharon Maney from the Back to Life Foundation:
I met Jackie shortly after my son was in an accident in which he lost his left leg. My emotions were raw—yet, I knew that Jackie came into my life for a specific reason. You see, our family decided to start a foundation whereby we could help others who faced the trauma of amputation. We had no clue where or how to start this new venture, and in my weakest hour, Jackie Stanley walked into my life. She guided me, encouraged me, prompted me, and sometimes even pushed me to continue moving forward with the Foundation. Today, thanks to Jackie’s care and concern, the Back To Life Foundation is a fully incorporated 501(c) (3) non-profit. I highly recommend Jackie: She is more than a great attorney—she is a great person.
Gina L. Hileman, Barak Norton Heritage Association, Inc.:
Jackie, thank you for helping Barak Norton Heritage Association, Inc. get through the process of obtaining our 501(c)(3) status! You helped us rise above the incorrect advice we had received from other sources, make the proper corrections, see a larger vision, and after the corrections, obtain a very fast result. You made all the difference in making this happen and we appreciate you! You are greatly appreciated and highly recommended! Thank you so much!