Learn More About Nonprofit Ministry Formation

So, you want to, or feel called to start a ministry or nonprofit.
There are several things to consider:

Are going to live out of the country?

Do you not think you have the knowledge, time, or internet access to manage your 501(c)(3)?

If not then you may need to consider a sponsorship or agency to manage your donations and web platform. The process is not necessarily hard, but it can be taxing with a lot of steps and hoops you will have to go through.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you do plan on becoming your own 501(c)(3) then you may want to go ahead and start the process. The more money you bring in, the more it will cost to file for your nonprofit status. As of this writing, if you bring in more than $50,000 in a year, the filing cost starts going up.

Now if you do not think you are going to have time to deal with collecting and managing donor receipts and end of year statements, then finding a sponsor or agency is your ticket.

The United States government has a site that helps you to know the steps you need to start a nonprofit or charity and you can check them out here.
Nolo has great resources that help you to understand what is right for you. You can check them out here.
Whatever you do make sure you:
  • Do your research.
  • Start out building a solid foundation.
  • Follow State and Federal laws and regulations.
  • Make the decision to ether file for exemption or find a good match as a sponsor for your organization/project.
If you do decide to start your own 501(c)(3) you will need to:
  1. Make a Plan  (this will mean doing research)
    • Forming a mission statement
    • What needs are you going to meet with your nonprofit?
    • What will be your organizations main activities?
    • How will you find your nonprofit?
  2. Select your organization’s name
    • Pick a name that matches your mission
    • Make sure it is not being used by another company or trademarked! Your legal name cannot conflict with any other organization name so do your research (check availability with your Secretary of State).
  3. Recruit a Board
    • You do not own your nonprofit
      • Legally it is its own entity
    • Nonprofits are managed by the board, voting members or a combination of both.
  4. Select your legal structure
    • You need to stick with a common structure for Nonprofits
    • Make sure you check with state law to make sure you are compliant with any structuring needs per your state.
  5. Prepare and file your state documents
    • You must start by forming your organization with your state. This is normally done by filing a certificate of formation or something like it with your secretary of state.
    • This will have several key bits of information in it:
      • Purpose of organization
      • Name of Initiating directors (these are public)
      • Name of incorporator
      • Name and address of registered agent
      • Statement on membership
      • Then IRS specific langage
  6. ByLaws
    • This is your organizations operation manual or your Bible you will go by in day to day operation.
    • Your initial board should be involved in preparing and adopting and voting them in.
    • Most states require you to keep a copy of your bylaws at your state’s corporate office.
    • This is needed when filing for tax exemption and will have to be signed by a corporate officer.
  7. Hold your first meeting
Here you will need to:
  • approve bylawselect any other directors
  • appoint officers
  • approve resources
  • approve any resolutions or proposals

8. Now it’s time to apply for your EIN (This is your Tax ID for your organization). You can access the IRS site here.

9. Apply for your 501(c)(3) status
To do this you must:

  • File form 1024 with the IRS.
    • This can be time consuming so do this when you have plenty of time.
    • Also, they have a form you can look at to make sure you know what do have available so login and review it and maybe even print it out and get ready so when you go to file online you are ready and have all info available.
  • Check out IRS forms here.

10. Make sure to check with your state for any other permits or exemptions you may need to file.
Many require you to register for soliciting for support.

I hope that this helped you in the process of setting up your nonprofit our deciding if this is the right thing for your situation. God Bless you and while you are at it subscribe to our news letter to keep up with all of our ministry updates!

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