" /> Start a Nonprofit

Starting and managing a 501(c)(3) nonprofit can be a daunting task. Before you start a 501(c)(3), ask yourself some vital questions and make sure that you are satisfied with the answers:

  • Is the service I want to provide already being offered by others in my area?
  • Do I need to establish a separate organization to perform this service, or can it be done as a sole proprietorship or as a service under the banner of another organization (such as a local church)?
  • Am I able to find the right kind of people for the board? You’ll need people who are wise, capable, teachable, and relational. They absolutely must have a passion for the work and the capacity to invest significant time into board service. They must be willing to learn the duties of board membership and to be more than a passive group of your friends.
  • Am I sufficiently versed in the workings of a nonprofit, especially with regard to its unique legal position?
  • Do I have a trusted attorney who can help prepare the application for nonprofit recognition (IRS Form 1023)?
  • Am I able to find adequate administrative help for managing the details that come with running a nonprofit organization?
  • Do I adequately understand the reporting requirements incumbent upon the organization? (This includes the organizational tax return, quarterly employment tax reports, monthly deposits, state reporting requirements, etc.)
  • Will I be able to take the personal financial hit that will come until the organization has sufficient funding?
  • Do I have an adequate supply of potential major donors? If not, do I have a network that is able to direct me to such people?
  • Am I ready to spend 25-50% of my productive time networking and fundraising?
  • Am I ready to acknowledge that I must be accountable to the board of directors? The government regards them as the “first officers” of the corporation. Collectively, the board is your boss.
  • Do I have a sufficient database to give me a good starting point for a mailing list?

You may wish to visit www.irs.gov and download the latest version of IRS Publication 557, "Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization."

Sharpened Focus has extensive experience in starting and managing nonprofit organizations, and has advised dozens of such entities. If you would like to be coached through the start-up process: