Creating a nonprofit with the desire to help others is a noble goal. You may be surprised, however, to know how easy it is to start your own. Forming a nonprofit can be a little more complicated than starting a regular business, although the process is very similar. This beginner’s guide will walk you through the process of creating your own nonprofit.
Create a Plan
You should go into the formation of a nonprofit, just like a business, with a plan. This plan should be in writing and outline the general structure and key details of your nonprofit. Information that should be in the plan includes what your nonprofit does, organizational structure, strategies for attracting donors and volunteers, financial information, defined goals and more. Other details you will need to decide upon include your nonprofit’s name, logo, branding, products you sell, activities you do, the services you provide and more. Knowing all of this in advance will make the following steps much easier.
Form the Nonprofit
Once everything is in place, you should take steps to formally establish your nonprofit as a legal entity. There are a number of different entities a nonprofit can be, varying from being wholly charity-oriented to wholly politically-oriented. You will want to work with a lawyer who specializes in business transaction law services so your nonprofit is established correctly at the beginning to lessen the chances of problems down the road. Draw information from your initial plan when consulting with a lawyer to determine your business entity type and what the government will expect you to report in terms of your transactions and funding.
You will likely need some amount of capital to start up your nonprofit. One major way nonprofits get funding is through grants, of which there are many different sources and types. It can be difficult to obtain grants on the first application, so take time and work with a professional editor to draft your grant proposal. By this point, you will need to have all of your business planning completed so that you can include those details in your grant proposal. Private businesses, nonprofit-focused organizations, friends, family, and your own pocket can also be sources of funding.
Obtain Tax Exemptions, Permits, and Licenses
Nonprofits enjoy special tax-exempt status through both the federal government and individual states. State laws governing nonprofits and tax exemption status vary, so you will want to contact the relevant department in your state to begin the process of getting approved. Your final step should be to apply for any required permits and licenses. These are typically given out on a local level and the ones you need will depend on your nonprofit and the type of operations you will be doing. For example, if you plan to raise money for your cause by selling products, you’ll want to obtain a permit to sell in the area, as well as solicitation permits for obtaining donations.
Starting a nonprofit can be an intimidating proposition, but by taking the right steps you can have it up and running soon. Donors will be much more likely to donate to an organization that has official nonprofit status. Always be sure to follow all relevant state and federal laws that govern nonprofits – nonprofits have certain regulations placed on them that businesses do not. Soon you will be on your way to successfully fight for a noble cause.