Dalton & Tomich is pleased to provide legal services to a variety of nonprofits located across the state of Michigan and nationwide. One of the nonprofits we are happy to represent is Planet Aid, which operates clothing and shoe donation collections bins nationwide.
Planet Aid was founded in 1997 in Massachusetts in order to improve health, aid vulnerable children, and reduce poverty in impoverished communities. To carry out its mission, Planet Aid operates donation bins at various private properties across Michigan and around the country. Individuals can donate their used clothing, shoes, and other textiles at these donation bins. Planet Aid then sells the donations it collects and uses the proceeds to support a variety of charitable programs that assist needy communities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In recent years, the donated textile industry has seen increased competition based on the increased number of donation bins popping up in many Michigan communities. Consequently, many charities that do not operate donation bins, like Goodwill, have been trying to convince municipal leaders to adopt ordinances that ban donation bins in an effort to decrease competition. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that all charitable organizations, including non-profit donation bin operators like Planet Aid, have a constitutional right to solicit charitable donations that is protected by the First Amendment.
Dalton & Tomich has assisted Planet Aid in bringing federal lawsuits against several Michigan communities, including Ypsilanti Township and St. Johns, challenging the constitutionality of their ordinances that ban donation bins. In fact, in the last two weeks Dalton & Tomich attorneys have successfully convinced two federal judges to issue temporary restraining orders preventing both Ypsilanti Township and St. Johns from enforcing their donation bin bans. On April 16, 2014, Judge Denise Page Hood of the Eastern District of Michigan granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting Ypsilanti Township from enforcing a longstanding but seldom enforced ordinance that regulates accessory uses for the sole purpose of excluding donation bins. On April 29, 2014, Judge Janet Neff of the Western District of Michigan granted another temporary restraining order, this time preventing the city of St. Johns from enforcing an ordinance it recently adopted that bans all donation bins within the city limits.
In addition to protecting Planet Aid’s constitutional rights through litigation, Dalton & Tomich has also worked cooperatively with many Michigan communities on Planet Aid’s behalf to draft ordinances that allow communities to regulate donation bins in a constitutional manner that applies equally to all entities. Through these efforts, Dalton & Tomich has worked together with local leaders to craft policies that meet the needs of both the community and nonprofits like Planet Aid without imposing needless and overbroad regulation. We look forward to a continued successful relationship with Planet Aid.
Dalton & Tomich’s recent successes on behalf of Planet Aid have been heavily reported by both local and national media outlets, including the Detroit News, Crain's Detroit, Mlive.com, and the Washington Times.
Dalton & Tomich attorneys have extensive experience providing legal representation to a wide range of nonprofit entities. Our services include from assisting nonprofits in organizing, including drafting of articles and bylaws; applying for and maintaining tax-exempt status; advising on various legal matters, including governance, financing, fundraising, and tax issues; and providing litigation services.