There are many advantages to obtaining non-profit status, the most common being a 501c3; such as tax exemptions and deductions as well as opportunities for public grants. There are also some drawbacks like the cost of filing, the amount of paperwork that needs to be done, having a board of directors, and you will also need to have your finances open to the public.
To be or not to be:
You want to help people, children, animals, or the environment. Whatever the driving force is that has compelled you to start a non-profit, it should be clearly defined. Having a clear objective will attract your supporters and help you stay organized. Develop a clear mission statement and be sure this is well communicated to your supporters.
By any other name:
You will want to pick a name that reflects what your organization is trying to accomplish. Be sure to check if the name is available in your state and you will also want to be sure the domain name is available for any future website you might create.
The rules and procedures vary widely from state to state. Check to see what the rules and regulations are to start a nonprofit in your state. The National Council of Nonprofits is a great resource and you can check Council of Non-Profits for more information on various rules by state as well as local state associations.
To start a nonprofit you can’t go it alone. One of the requirements across all states is being incorporated. You must have a board of directors, set up Articles of Incorporation as well as by laws for your non-profit just as a business would.
You must obtain an (EIN) employer identification number and open a bank account. Filing for an exemption: Check with the IRS to see if your organization qualifies for an exemption at Internal Revenue Service and once you know you are eligible you can file for exemption. Once you have filled it can take between 3 to 6 months to get approved. You can download forms and get additional information from the IRS website. It is always best to speak with a tax professional regarding specific accounting practices for nonprofits.
Develop a well thought out fundraising plan:
In order to be a successful non-profit organization you need to collect donations from the public; this is achieved by having a strong fundraising plan. Your organization may hold events, ask for donations through mailers, sell swag, and have ongoing fundraising campaigns such as an engraved brick or engraved tile fundraisers.
Polar Engraving, a well-established brick engraving company that has been in business for over 22 years, has many great fundraising tips and ideas for utilizing engraved bricks and tiles for your fundraising project. Check out our new learning resource Polar University for more fundraising tools and tips from Polar Engraving.