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Starting a Non-Profit: What You Need to Know to Get Started

The MaxFilings incorporation professionals discuss what it takes to start a not-for-profit organization

You see a need in your community and have a fabulous idea for a non-profit business to fulfill this gap and your passion.  You seem to have many people supporting you in this endeavor and the anticipation of giving back to society is driving you forward in this venture.  However, before you begin the journey into starting your own non-profit organization, there are several issues you must consider if you're to succeed.

According to the National Center of Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million non-profit agencies in the United States.  If you want to be one of the successful ones, consider the following factors:

  • Is it necessary?  As you can see with the number listed by the NCCS, there are already plenty of non-profits in the United States.  Is your idea to develop a new one the right decision, or should you devote your time to nurturing an existing non-profit?  Make sure your non-profit organization fulfills a need not currently being met before pouring resources, time and money into this venture.

  • Local support is vital.  It is imperative that you have a tremendous amount of support in order to start your non-profit.  Whether these are major donors, corporate contributions, foundations or government agencies, they will all want to see that the community is "buying into" and supporting your mission.

  • Fundraising is a must.  You need to have great ideas on how to fundraise for your particular organization.  Donations from individuals and corporations generally make up a small amount of what it takes for a non-profit to succeed.

  • Tax exempt status is not automatic. Non-profit status is a function of state law, but being tax exempt is a function of federal law.  A tax exempt status is generally required in order to receive gifts for private and government foundations. In order to qualify for tax exempt status, the non-profit corporation must be organized for one of the purposes allowed in the Internal Revenue Code.

  • Remain business-like.  You must stay organized and keep good records.  Even though this is a "not for profit" business, maintaining a business-like presence is key.  Keeping proper track of your revenue and expenditures is necessary to provide all stakeholders and the community with transparent information on how your organization is spending contributions.

  • Have a clear mission and strategic plan.  Once again, this is about being organized and staying on track.  Just like all successful businesses, you need a detailed plan on how you are going to achieve your mission.

  • Plan for the long term.  If you are looking for a quick solution, then organizing a non-profit is something you should avoid.  For all the work that it takes to start this type of business, you need to envision it being something that will be in existence for a very long time.

  • Public perception important.  Every move you make and every dollar you spend can be scrutinized by the public.  Make choices carefully in every situation and do your best to represent your non-profit in a way that best benefits the community and achieves your mission.

If a non-profit is something you are seriously considering, contact us to provide you with a non-profit corporation kit.

These kits contain many things, including personalized certificates for your company to help make your documents official and secure. MaxFilings wishes you the best in your non-profit endeavor and we are here to help you succeed with our diverse set of business services.