Making the World a Better Place: Building Your Non Profit

Do you have a vision of giving back to your community? Ever dreamed of starting your own non profit organization? From community arts programs and food banks, to veterans services and cancer research, tax-exempt charitable organizations play a big role in making America a better place to live and thrive.

In order to ensure that every generous donation and valuable amount of funding is reserved for the vital cause of your organization, it’s necessary to file a 1023 form with the IRS. Form 1023 is an application to request tax-exempt status. You can fill that form out here.

Need a little more guidance about starting your 501(c)3? Before you get started applying for tax-exemption, make sure you’ve already done a few things:

  • Choose a cause or issue that is important to, and also important to the public. Do you want to improve education? Feed the hungry? Rescue animals?
  • Invent a name for your organization. Your group’s name must be unique, not one that is already on file with the state as a corporation. Also keep in mind that your name cannot contain certain words reserved for the state, such as United States, Reserve, Federal, National, Cooperative or Bank.
  • Apply for the name you’ve picked. You’ll need to fill out an Article of Incorporation form. Choose your state from this list to get started:
  • Create your mission statement. It should be a compelling, clear, short expression that explains in one or two sentences the name of the organization, what it does, for whom it performs services, and where it operates. Your mission statement should also portray how your organization is different from others similar to it. Your mission statement will be used in all published materials, funding requests and public relations handouts.
  • Hire an attorney. Make sure to choose someone who is experienced with 501(c)3 organizations and all the paperwork involved in non profit work. This attorney will help you file your state and federal exemption forms.
  • Apply for a federal identification number. You can fill out, sign, and print or eFax that form (SS-4) here. 
  • Hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), develop a budget, and create your own record-keeping system to keep track of everything. Luckily, your PDFfiller account comes with unlimited cloud storage, so you won’t have to worry about printing and organizing your organization’s tax forms–they’ll already be accessible from any computer or mobile device at any time.
  • Develop an accounting system with the help of your CPA. Non profits are accountable to the public, their funders (contributors), and government departments that grant you money. You have to establish a system of checks and balances to make sure that your accounting plan meets both your current and your anticipated future needs. The organization needs to open a bank account, too.
  • Apply for recognition of tax-exempt public charity status. Click here to fill out Form 1023
  • Draft bylaws, form a Board of Directors, and research the law requirements regarding fundraising. Bylaws are the basic rules of how your organization will operate. Although bylaws are not required to file for 501(c)(3) status, they will help you in leading and running your organization. Bylaws should be drafted with the help of an attorney and approved by the board early in the organization’s development. Depending on who you use to assist in the process, some firms require that your bylaws are sent to the IRS (ask your attorney). 
  • Get your name and mission out into the community. Click here to apply for a Nonprofit Mailing Permit through the Unites States Postal Service. This permit will reduce your postage rates on bulk mailings.
  • Other things to think about: 
    • Secure a domain name & create a website
    • Design a logo & tagline to use on promotional materials
    • Create a copyright

Way to go! You’re well on your way to making your community, and our world, a better place. If you have any questions, comments, or you’d like to let us know how your nonprofit is doing, drop us a line anytime. Thanks for reading! Wish you all a safe and happy New Year!