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How to Start a Nonprofit Organization

Starting a nonprofit organization will be worth the effort once it's up and running!


  • Step 1: Wait for your letter of determination from the IRS and then apply to your state's Department of Regulation and Licensing.
  • Step 2: Contact your state government to find out whether you need a solicitation license in order to solicit funds for your organization and apply for tax-exempt status.
  • Step 3: Obtain liability insurance to protect your board members' assets and then get your new nonprofit rolling.
  • FACT: The National Center for Charitable Statistics reported an estimated 1.57 million tax-exempt organizations scattered throughout the United States in 2008.
  • Step 4: Contact your state's IRS office to file your application for nonprofit status. You will need IRS publication 557 and IRS form 1023.
  • Step 5: Establish a set of bylaws that your organization will abide by. Be prepared to update them as new situations arise.
  • TIP: Research your NPO at and to make sure there is a need for it.
  • Step 6: Organize a board of directors, including a chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.
  • Step 7: File articles of incorporation with your local Secretary of State. There will be a small fee that varies from state to state.
  • TIP: By filing Articles of Incorporation, members will be protected against liability in case of a lawsuit.
  • Step 8: Decide on the type of nonprofit organization you want to start, including a mission statement explaining why people will want to invest in your organization.

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