Do-It-Yourself Steps to Start a Nonprofit
Starting a nonprofit organization is a complex and time-consuming endeavor. A nonprofit is a business and, just like a for-profit, it requires a collection of resources ranging from time and effort to financial support. While the mission is always the most important element of a successful nonprofit, founders must also focus on business planning and legal compliance.
In order for your organization to be treated as tax-exempt for federal income tax purposes, and to receive tax-deductible contributions, it must receive a determination about its status from the IRS. To do this, you must file Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The 1023 Application is complicated – the IRS estimates that it takes a novice 100+ hours to complete. A successful application is only the first step to achieving and maintaining tax exemption and federal and state legal compliance.
Planning on tackling your Form 1023 yourself? We encourage you to consult a licensed professional before submitting your application. In preparation, follow the phases below to launch your nonprofit organization. Be aware that tax-exempt organizations can take different forms. If you’re a Maryland Nonprofits member, give us a call for help figuring out which tax-exempt status your organization should pursue (501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(6), etc…). The process below presumes you will be filing for 501(c)(3) public charity status.