This is not legal advice, we’re just sharing the experience of PBDD as an example. Specifics vary state-by-state.
The National Council of Non-profits has put together a start-up guide.
Once you are established as a 501(c)3 at the federal level, and meet your state’s requirements for a nonprofit corporation, don’t forget to track certain annually recurring items. Here’s the list for PBDD, which incorporated in March of 2015. (So your dates may be different.)
- IRS Form 990 (or 990-EZ or 990-N) due July 15
- Update annual financials on Guidestar
- Illinois AG requires AG990-IL for previous fiscal year due 8/28
- Board-approved budget for next year (Due before 2/28)
- Corporate Annual Report with IL Secretary of State (by March)
- Election of officers for coming year (Regular meeting in March)
- Annual statement by officers acknowledging Conflict of Interest policy (Regular meeting in March)
Rules for solicitation (fund-raising) vary by state. Many states require registration, though some states allow fundraising below a certain threshold to be done without registration. For an overview, see this page from Council of Nonprofits.