So you want to start a nonprofit organization?
The Center for Nonprofits frequently receives requests for information on starting a nonprofit organization, often from passionate individuals wanting to take a “hands-on” approach to a fixing a community issue. While we applaud this initiative, we have found there are often more effective ways to apply this energy and enthusiasm toward a solution than launching a new organization.
The first recommendation we have is to review the nonprofits already working in your community (Hamilton County alone has more than 1,800 nonprofits!). See if you can partner with another organization offering similar services or working within the same population area. You may contact United Way 2-1-1 to purchase a Resource Directory Guide, which indexes the area service providers; visit the websites of the Center for Nonprofits’ member agencies listed here; and utilize www.guidestar.org and other web-based searches to identify similar agencies.
If your purpose is primarily to raise money and give it to those in need, you could consider starting a fund with the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga or your local community foundation. You may also contact a local bank to discuss your options.
There are many online resources available to outline the steps involved, but be aware that the process is not an easy or a simple one. Filing the necessary forms with the Tennessee Secretary of State, Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Postal Service is time consuming and can be costly as filing fees add up. Also, with more than 1,800 nonprofit organizations in Hamilton County alone, there is already much “competition” for the charitable dollar and it is increasingly difficult to convince funders and donors that your new program or organization is not a duplication of services performed by other organizations. For additional considerations, read “Rethinking Nonprofits,” an interesting article printed in TIME magazine’s February 2007 issue, which may be accessed by clicking here .
The Center for Nonprofits does NOT offer nonprofit startup in providing legal or financial advice, or by assisting in completing the necessary paperwork. We DO offer resources, consulting and training in issues related to nonprofit management, including:
· board development
· executive management
· grant writing
· volunteer management
Click here to review our upcoming training schedule. If you would like customized consulting in one of the areas listed above, please click here to contact the Center for Nonprofits staff.
Below are some links you may find useful in considering nonprofit start-up.
The Center for Nonprofits does not give legal advice, and we recommend you contact an attorney to assist you before starting a nonprofit organization.
Online checklists for Starting a Nonprofit:
Board Source "Starting a Nonprofit Organization"
Center for Nonprofit Management in Nashville
Some helpful forms & instructions:
Tenn. Secretary of State, Filing Instructions for New Organizations
Resources for help in preparing form 1023
IRS, Application Instructions for EIN
IRS, Application Instructions for Tax-Exempt Status
U.S. Post Office, Application to Mail at Nonprofit Rates
U.S. Post Office, Explanation of Nonprofit Mailings
Tenn. Secretary of State, Charitable Solicitations Forms