Community Platform

The Nonprofit FAQ: Start-up

Select an FAQ   (43):

'Milestones' in the Life of a Nonprofit
The IRS and the UK Charities Commission have brief guides to starting, operating, and closing down a community-service organization or charity.
'What to Do Until the Lawyer Comes'
That's the subtitle of the online handbook by James D. DeWitt which is available online. It gives a broad introduction to legal issues addressed to leadership volunteers of nonprofits.
Are there rules about naming a nonprofit?
The answer will vary from state to state.
Can a 501(c)(4) become a 501(c)(3)?
Yes. Filing a new application (1023) is the most direct route.
Can an organization that helps people with a specific disease qualify as a public charity?
The answer is, 'it depends'. Gifts earmarked for specific individuals can't be tax-deductible.
Can I set up a corporate foundation for my company?
There are lots of things to worry about.
Can my organization get started for $0 out of pocket?
Probably not. It takes elbow grease, shoe leather, and persistence.
Can one nonprofit create another?
Sure. The new organization can either be completely independent or remain connected after it starts operating.
Can the organization operate while completing the 501(c)(3) process?
Extra caution is needed, but many organizations have started work before the formal process was completed
Can we re-incorporate in another state?
Although the organization may feel it is just a formality when the state of incorporation is changed, in fact one organization has gone out of existence and a new one has been formed. New standing with the IRS is necessary.
Creating a community foundation
Advice and observations on starting a foundation to work in a specific community.
Do I need a lawyer to form a nonprofit? How much should it cost?
Some people can do it on their own. Others find a lawyer very useful. There are legal referral services which sometimes can help locate low-cost or even free assistance.
How Can We Make a Budget for the IRS Before We Start Work?
Form 1023 requires a three-year projected budget. What approach should be used to prepare one?
How do I incorporate an organization as a nonprofit?
The procedures vary from state to state. This item provides the names of three books that can help.
How do we add a new board member?
Here are suggestions and links to forms to recruit and orient new board members.
How do we develop and evaluate programs?
Guidelines to develop and evaluate programs
How do we get our Federal tax-exempt number?
There really isn't any such thing. The Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) is used for identifying nonprofit organizations. Local tax exemptions are set by local jurisdictions and must be researched locally.
How do we hire a new or replacement Chief Executive Officer?
The Free Management Library offers guidelines for hiring a chief executive officer for the first time or as a replacement.
How to start a foundation
Starting a foundation is pretty much like starting any sort of nonprofit. The details are probably even more important.
Is there any way to be eligible for grants before getting 501(c)3) status?
Sometimes, a fiscal sponsor will assume responsibility for a grant-supported project that is not connected to any existing agency or organization.
Local Organizations State-by-State: A through M
A listing of statewide associations of nonprofits and other organizations active in the sector that work primarily at the state level.
Local Organizations State-by-State: N through Z
A listing of statewide associations of nonprofits and other organizations active in the sector that work primarily at the state level.
Must all nonprofits be purely about helping others?
No. That requirement applies to foundations and public charities (501(c)(3)s), but there are many types with other requirements
New Form 1023 Effective 2005
Form 1023 is used to file for recognition as a tax-exempt charity (etc.) with the IRS. The new form must be used after April 2005.
Resources for many types of planning
Free Management Library offers resources for a variety of types of planning.
Setting Up a Fund to Help People Meet the Costs of Fighting a Disease
Gifts to individuals generate no tax deduction. There are other complications. Working with a community foundation can help.
Should we incorporate a 'private' or a 'public' nonprofit?
In general, it is probably better to be a 'public charity' than a 'private foundation.' This note explores the question briefly.
Should we use accrual accounting?
The accrual method is generally regarded as the standard.
Starting Up an Advocacy Organization
Advice about the requirements when setting up an organization that is focused on advocacy.
Things to think about before launching a new nonprofit.
The Editor of the Nonprofit FAQ offers 'Five Tips and a Warning.'
We can't afford a full office and staff. Where can we turn?
You may want to consider fiscal sponsorship. Here are a couple of organizations that may be able to help.
What about getting a nonprofit bulk mail permit?
The important thing to remember is that the Postal Service rules and the IRS rules are not the same.
What about self-help groups
Joining, or starting, a self-help group is a widely accepted way for people to deal with problems. These groups are vital resources for individuals and communities. Many offer valuable resources online.
What actual steps do I take? Which filings come first?
The practical details (in the USA) of incorporating a nonprofit and filing for tax-exempt status and a nonprofit mailing permit.
What are Articles of Incorporation? Bylaws?
Articles of Incorporation typically specify the purpose of the organization, its name, place of business, key officers and various limitations of operations. Bylaws are the board's specifications of the overall structure and operations of the organization
What are nonprofit incubators?
Organizations that help foster the development of young nonprofits are called 'incubators.' Often they operate a building with shared common facilities.
What is business planning? How is it carried out?
A business plan specifies your nonprofit's business idea. It's sometimes needed for funding or to justify a new program. The plan often includes a market study, strategic plan and financial projections.
What is social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship has different meanings: starting a nonprofit, earned-income ventures, social responsibility, etc.
What kinds of gifts would be most useful for new organizations?
Which should fundraisers concentrate on first?
What other resources are available online to help with starting a nonprofit?
An annotated list of some useful web pages.
Where do we start looking for support for a new organization?
Some very basic advice for people who are just beginning to think about this possibility.
Where to start when creating a nonprofit
Resources and advice for use at the very beginning.
Which kind? 501(3)(3), 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6)?
Resources for making a decision when choosing which kind of tax-exempt organization fits.