Starting a nonprofit organization: A checklist
By WORLDLawDirect [December 6th, 2011]
Once you decide to incorporate as nonprofit organization and to apply for tax-exempt status, there are a number of steps that you must take. This list can serve as a blueprint and as a reminder of what needs to be done and in what order.
- Begin with a broad charitable purpose that motivates yourself or your group of concerned citizens.
- Recruit members of the community-at-large who support this broad charitable purpose in order to develop a body of individuals with diverse qualities and resources that can aid you or your group in satisfying this purpose.
- Draft a mission statement that further refines your broad charitable purpose while providing your founding body of individuals with some realistic and concrete objectives toward which the body may direct its collective energies. This mission statement is the first step toward the implementation of a nonprofit organization to achieve the goals of the founding body.
- Survey potential funding sources (including local, state, and federal government sources, private foundations and other grant providers) to determine the availability of funds to conduct the mission statement of the new nonprofit organization. Also conduct an analysis of existing organization that would provide similar services. Use the yellow pages of the phone book, the public library, or contact your local state association for listings of agencies.
- Obtain some "startup finances" to enable your new nonprofit organization to obtain some professional services (e.g., legal, accounting, etc.).
- Solicit a list of interested individuals from within your founding body interested in becoming the initial Board of Directors of the new nonprofit organization.
- Seek legal assistance to incorporate the founding body into a nonprofit corporation by drafting a Certificate of Incorporation.
- Draft a set of corporate bylaws, which will serve as the procedure that the Board of Directors, and possibly the members of the corporation, will utilize to make decisions on behalf of the corporation.
- Hold an organizational meeting. You must hold an organizational meeting to formally create the nonprofit corporation. At this meeting the bylaws should be adopted, the Board of Directors should be elected, and all other relevant business should be conducted.