Starting a nonprofit
Starting a nonprofit can be very rewarding, but there are a lot of details that go into it. You may benefit from hiring a professional company to ensure it is done correctly.
Should you start a nonprofit?
All nonprofit organizations require a clear and specific purpose. The first thing you should ask yourself is, ” Will my nonprofit fill a specific need or purpose? Most people don’t realize how many nonprofits already exist. You should research to verify there is not already a nonprofit established to address the same need in your targeted area. If one already exists, consider becoming a volunteer at the existing organization rather than creating one. That may sound discouraging, but volunteers are also appreciated, and your skills and knowledge can go towards improving one that is already on its feet. If you believe your nonprofit offers the public a better service, solution or addresses a more specific niche, you might have found the right opportunity to start a nonprofit.
Creating a nonprofit
If you’ve decided to move forward in creating a nonprofit, here are some of the steps you’ll need to take:
- Choose a name. Every nonprofit is a legal company, it needs a name legally permissible in your state. Naming rules vary by state. In general, your name must not be too similar to another’s, and additional naming restrictions may apply. Contact your state or a professional to understand your states naming rules.
- Appoint a Board of Directors. The board oversees the nonprofit organization to ensure it is executing on its purpose. The majority of board members (51% or more) cannot be related by blood or marriage.
- Articles of incorporation. Articles establish a legal corporation in the state of operation. Think of it as the birth certificate of your nonprofit organization.
- Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). Every organization is required to have an EIN number from the IRS. An EIN is like a social security number for your nonprofit. Please note that having an EIN does not mean you are incorporated or that you are considered a nonprofit.
- Apply for tax-exemption. This means becoming recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS and filing any state tax and charity paperwork. Each state is different in what they require.
For more in-depth guidance on starting your nonprofit, download our Nonprofit Start-up Guide, which includes start-up checklists and outlines important milestones and requirements for starting a nonprofit.