The “Starting a Nonprofit” Toolkit invites you and your group to think about the difference you seek to make and the structure best suited to move forward. It leads you through key decision-making steps on whether a nonprofit is the best way for you to accomplish your goals. If you decide to move forward with a nonprofit, “Starting a Nonprofit” guides you through the key compliance and good-practice steps to take it towards becoming operational.
You may be feeling impatient to get started. Yet to be successful, it’s critical to pause, reflect, imagine, convene interested people in your community, and plan around important questions that will ultimately strengthen the organization’s ability to succeed.
This Toolkit represents a distillation of knowledge, experience, and research from nonprofit leaders, founders, and organizations that serve the nonprofit sector. “Starting a Nonprofit” brings you from idea to organization. It is the first stop on a journey that will lead you to many other resources. It is also a companion toolkit to resources on nonprofit boards, finance, law, and planning that are available in the Washington Nonprofit Handbook, at wanonprofitinstitute.org, and in 501 Commons resources. It is supported by in-person workshops, webinars, networks, and many other chances to learn more.
Starting a business with a cause offers much satisfaction as you work to make lives better for others. To launch a nonprofit corporation, it requires taking many of the same steps a for-profit corporation or LLC does, but there are differences, too. Nonprofits must comply with some requirements that don’t affect other businesses.
So, where do you begin?
1. Understand what it means to be a nonprofit.
A nonprofit may be created a nonprofit for charitable, educational or certain other purposes—as long as they don’t directly benefit the owner. Nonprofits (if approved by the federal government) operate tax-free, and they can accept donations and apply for grants.
While a nonprofit business can make profits, surpluses must be used toward fulfilling the organization’s objectives—such as buying computer software to run the business more efficiently or investing in resources that deliver value to those that it serves. Continue reading
There are many steps between the initial idea stage and an operating 501 (c) (3) organization and the process will usually span a period of a year or more.
After you come up with an idea for a service or a program that can best be developed on a not-for-profit basis, it is critical to find other individuals who share your vision for this idea. These individuals must be willing to share the work involved in getting your idea off the ground and serve as your starting board of directors.
It is also important that your board offer financial support, as the level of board support is a question that other funding sources will often ask. It is helpful if board members with specific skills can be recruited; e.g. an accountant and/or a lawyer as well as people experienced in the field of service you hope to provide. Continue reading
Whether you already own your own business, or you’re still working for someone else, starting a nonprofit organization may be on your radar for several reasons:
- You’ve always wanted to make a difference in your community.
- Your current business is doing well, and you want to give back.
- There is a cause close to your heart, and you know you can help.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S., and with corporate social responsibility all the rage today, that number is growing by leaps and bounds. A recent Nielsen survey showed respondents are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that have a positive social and environmental impact.
Starting a nonprofit doesn’t necessarily mean you can quit your day job right away, but like any small business owner, you could eventually earn enough from your nonprofit to justify a full-time salary for you and your staff. Continue reading
This will help. It’s the WASHINGTON NONPROFIT HANDBOOK: How to Form and Maintain a Nonprofit Corporation in Washington State.
Published by Wayfind in partnership with Washington Nonprofits and Washington State Office of the Secretary of State.
>> Click here to download a PDF copy of the handbook.