Getting started as a nonprofit

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.

There are good books on getting started such as NOLO’s How to form a nonprofit corporation or online resources such as the Grantspace knowledge base.

There may be a step-by-step guide from your state such as Checklist for Illinois Charitable Organizations.  Another useful resource is Nonprofit governance state by state.

Growthink has a helpful page discussing the relevance and importance of a business plan for non-profits.

If you’re confused, you may want to read Barry’s blogs about getting established as a nonprofit, such as The benefits of a bureaucracy and Open for business.

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.)

  1. IRS Form 990 (or 990-EZ or 990-N) due July 15
  2. Update annual financials on Guidestar
  3. Illinois AG requires AG990-IL for  previous fiscal year due 8/28
  4. Board-approved budget for next year (Due before 2/28)
  5. Corporate Annual Report with IL Secretary of State (by March)
  6. Election of officers for coming year (Regular meeting in March)
  7. 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.