I think what you’re asking is what the requirements are if you decide that your start-up should operate as a non-profit. The first question you would have to answer is what do you plan to do? There are a lot of non-profits out there. Chances are good that there are already several that do what you want to do. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t do it. In fact, if they’re thriving, then there is a need for it. The need means that you can either start a non-profit OR you can dedicate your services to an existing non-profit.
With that said, there are several steps that you must take to begin a non-profit start-up.
Step 1 – Know what you want to do and pick a name for your non-profit. Once you have an idea for a name, go onto the Secretary of State website in your state and do a name search. You need to make sure that you’re not trying to use a name already taken by a business or a name that is so similar to another business that it could cause confusion with the public.
Step 2 – Decide whether you want to do the paperwork on your own or use a lawyer. The paperwork isn’t necessarily difficult, but it absolutely must be properly filled out. If it’s not, it can affect your tax-exempt status. Doing it on your own is, of course, less expensive. You’d only pay the filing fees in your state. Using an attorney does cost more, but you get peace of mind knowing that your forms are properly prepared before they are filed.
Step 3 – Find the non-profit documents on your Secretary of State website.Even if you plan to work with a lawyer, it is beneficial for you to know what information is requested along with the associated filing fee.
Step 4 – Fill out and file the documents. The documents and the filing fee both go to the Secretary of State.
Step 5 – Fill out the right application for tax-exemption with the IRS. If you neglect to do this in the right timeframe, your non-profit will not be tax-exempt.
Step 6 – Write bylaws about how your non-profit will be managed (from people to operations to finances).
Step 7 – Make sure that you don’t need any other sort of license or permit in your area.
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