So, You Want to Start a Nonprofit?
You have the desire to do something wonderful for your community. You have the skills necessary to make that wonderful thing happen. What else is needed to bring that wonderful thing and your community together? A nonprofit, of course! Developing and sustaining a viable nonprofit can be time consuming, expensive and stressful; so, it’s sensible to explore the process thoroughly before moving forward.
The very first considerations revolve around the need in your community for the services or products you provide. Is there a need? Is it ongoing? Are there others who are already providing those services/ products? Are there advantages to working within another agency rather than creating a new one? Will your services or products be unique enough to fill a niche? While considering these issues, keep in mind that funding for nonprofits, from both individual donors and foundations, is competitive and will be an ongoing priority for you.
Once you’ve established that a need exists, and that your new nonprofit answers that need, you can turn your attention to the task of bringing it into existence. There will be hoops to jump through, in order to comply with federal, state and local laws/requirements. You will likely want to establish your nonprofit as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. This requires applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS. See irs.gov/charities-and-nonprofits for further information.
Laws also govern the name you choose for your nonprofit, how you will operate, and how you may be funded. Because the process can be daunting, some elect to hire an attorney. But because an attorney can cost upwards of $5K, you may want to consider less costly alternatives such as an online legal technology like LegalZoom.
You’ll also need the help of a Board of Directors (which you’ll appoint) to create the rules by which your nonprofit will operate (the “bylaws”). This board will also be a key factor in ensuring the ongoing success of your organization via promotional and fundraising efforts, so choose your board members with this in mind.
Finally, you will need to file your formal documentation to incorporate your nonprofit with your state. You may also need to get a business certificate from your local municipality in which your nonprofit resides. Be aware that fees apply.
Best wishes as you develop your new venture, and as we all enter a New Year! And feel assured that we are always here, every step of the way.
Call us today to discuss ways in which we can help you launch your nonprofit.