I get many questions about starting a nonprofit organization. In today’s blog, I’ll give some short & sweet answers to the top 5 questions I’m asked on a regular basis.
Question 1: Can I turn my passion for community service into a nonprofit organization?
MAYBE. Anyone interested in starting a nonprofit organization needs to understand that it is a legal business entity. I encourage all my clients to think about whether they realistically have the time, money, and fortitude to invest into a new business venture. Additionally, nonprofit organizations exist to address unmet community needs. A prospective start-up has to focus its vision & mission on providing solutions to identifiable global problems.
Question 2: Do I really need to file all that paperwork?
Yes! Nonprofit organizations are legally mandated to be recognized by the state where the principal place of business is located. This paperwork must be filed before any work can be done in the name of the organization. Nonprofit organizations that want to be recognized as “publicly supported” must file for the 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. Additionally, each state has its own charitable solicitation requirements for registering the nonprofit organization before it begins soliciting funds.
Question 3: How many people do I need on the board of directors to get started?
Depends. Each state has its own requirements on how many people are required to be on the board. In some states, the number is identified by law and other states do not give a specific number. My recommendation is to identify a small core group of individuals who share your vision & passion for the work. They are more likely to give the needed support for developing the foundation during the organization’s early years.
Question 4: Do we really need By-laws?
Yes! The by-laws identify how the nonprofit organization will operate. By-laws may address: 1) the size of the board & how it will function, 2) roles and duties of directors/officers, 3) rules and procedures for holding meetings, electing directors, and appointing officers, 4) conflict of interest policies and procedures, and 5) other essential corporate governance matters. State nonprofit laws usually address nonprofit governance matters. However, other provisions may be included as long as they don’t violate state law.
Question 5: How long will it take to start-up the nonprofit organization?
Depends. I highly recommend that all state, board, and federal formation activities be completed before the nonprofit organization begins to legally operate. The start-up time is impacted by a number of variables which include: 1) accessibility to costs & fees associated with forms, 2) review time by government agencies, 3) Board member availability to serve, and 4) organizational board meeting scheduling.
There are ongoing opportunities to learn more about the start-up process. Schedule a private consultation with me @ http://kathrynaddo.com/nonprofit-start-up-survey-consultations/ or attend my September Nonprofit Series classes @ http://kathrynaddo.com/category/resources-for-nonprofits/