Karen Donnelly

Karen Donnelly




  • J.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2010
  • B.A., English Literature, University of Kansas, 2002
  • B.S., Journalism, University of Kansas, 2002

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court,
  • District of Kansas
  • District of Western Missouri
  • Missouri
  • Kansas


  • First Amendment
  • Nonprofit & Tax-Exempt Organizations
  • Administrative Law
  • Regulatory & Compliance
  • Corporate Law
  • Government Investigations
  • Appellate Practice & Constitutional Law


Donnelly is a partner. Her practice focuses on First Amendment litigation and administrative law in the areas of charitable, political and commercial speech. She represents nonprofit and commercial entities within the fundraising, advertising and marketing communities, including state attorney general investigations, Federal Trade Commission investigations, IRS exams, multi-state investigations, civil rights litigation and appellate practice in federal and state courts.

 In 2017, Donnelly argued an appeal involving First Amendment and administrative law issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a trade association. In 2018, Donnelly filed a petition for writ of certiorari before the United States Supreme Court in the same case. A number of amici filed briefs in support of the petition, including but not limited to the Cato Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

 Donnelly also counsels on the formation, structuring and qualification of tax-exempt organizations. She advises clients on nonprofit governance issues, corporate law, regulatory compliance, tax exempt organizations law, and constitutional law.

 She has also worked in the areas of direct marketing and nonprofit fundraising in Washington, D.C.

Publications / Speaking Engagements

Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society, KCPA Law Day 2019, Kansas City, Missouri

Unrelated Business Income Taxation (2018), National Business Institute, Overland Park, Kansas.

Donor Privacy under Attack by California Attorney General, Best Lawyers, https://www.bestlawyers.com/article/donor-privacy-under-attack-by-california-attorney-general/1183 (February 2017).

Intellectual Property and the Social Venture/Non-Profit: registration, protection, and enforcement of trademarks, and how to protect IP in licensing, corporate sponsorships, fundraising agreements, and grant writing agreements (2016), University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law, Social Entrepreneurship.

Financing the Social Venture: Crowdfunding, registration, and regulatory issues (2015), University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law, Social Entrepreneurship.

Good Governance: Has the IRS Usurped the Business Judgment of Tax Exempt Organizations in the Name of Transparency and Accountability?, 79 UMKC L. Rev. 163 (Fall 2010).


Donnelly volunteers as a cooperating attorney on the legal panel of the ACLU of Kansas and serves on the Board of the Kansas City Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. Donnelly also participates in the Government Affairs Committee of the Nonprofit Alliance based in Washington, D.C. Donnelly is Chair of the St. Anthony’s Pastoral Council, Lector and Pre-Cana Minister. In her spare time, Donnelly enjoys travel, running and spending time with family.