Like so many people growing into adulthood, you probably have lofty goals for your future. One way or another, you want to leave the world in a better place than you found it. Some people accomplish this by creating works of art, others by selling life-altering products. But others prefer a more direct approach to saving the world: nonprofits. So, if you see injustice and want to do your part to change it, here are some steps and tips to start a nonprofit.
The articles of incorporation
The first step in developing a nonprofit is to file your articles of incorporation. The requirements for filing are different from state to state, but typically, you will need to file with the secretary of state and include the following information:
- Name of the nonprofit – The name you give your nonprofits cannot be too similar to the same name of another registered entity.
- Registered agent – The registered agent is an individual who accepts official notices for the nonprofit. If you have a rotating board, it would be wise to pick a registered agent who is not a board member.
- Incorporator – The incorporator signs the formation documents and gives them to the governing agency.
Depending on the state, you might have to list business purposes, directors and more.
The bylaws are the agreed-upon rules that govern the nonprofit: It is your nonprofit’s constitution. This document covers everything from how your nonprofit will hold elections to how you distribute assets in the event of dissolution. It may be helpful to enlist an attorney when you write your bylaws to ensure you do not miss anything. Working with a lawyer will help you get into the more granular legal details that are not covered in these steps and tips to start a nonprofit.
Apply for tax exemption.
Under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, nonprofits have the opportunity to apply for federal tax-exempt status. Depending on your nonprofit’s purpose, you must complete a few forms and procedures to get this advantage. In particular, you must provide the Internal Revenue Service supporting documents that show your charitable, educational or religious mission.
Hire your employees.
Before you can open the doors of your nonprofit and begin changing the world, you will need some support to help you along the way. Hiring employees or volunteers for nonprofits is very similar to hiring for a for-profit entity. You must disseminate applications and interview the best applicants. Especially if your nonprofit is dedicated to protecting vulnerable people, you must vet your applicants using a thorough background check.