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How to start your nonprofit

Congratulations on starting a new organization! Making your nonprofit official can be a lengthy process, so let’s break it down. Follow the steps below to build your digital infrastructure, get your 501c3 status, and set yourself up for fundraising success.

How to start your nonprofit video thumbnail
How to start your nonprofit video thumbnail
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  1. Preparation

    Assemble your board of directors, prepare corporate documents, and file articles of incorporation.

  2. Registration

    File for tax exemptions and 501c3 status.

  3. Creation

    Define your purpose and build a website to share it.

  4. Infrastructure

    Set up your website to process payments.

1. preparation

Preparing your organization

So, you’ve named your organization and written up your mission statement. The next step is to start putting the people and policies in place that will help your nonprofit run smoothly. Choose and assemble your board, who can help you write and adopt your bylaws. Do you have a fiscal sponsor? If so, you can skip right to building your infrastructure from here. Otherwise, start preparing to file as a nonprofit by creating your Articles of Incorporation (AOI), which you can file yourself or hire someone to file on your behalf. Our partners at Harbor Compliance offer services to help you through the whole process.

Preparing your organization

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  • Your board members should include at least a President, Treasurer, and Secretary—but make sure to check the specific requirements for your state. Choose board members who are both committed to your cause and experienced in varied key areas like fundraising development, finance management, and community service. Read more here.

2. Registration

Registering for tax-exemption

To get your nonprofit status on the federal level, start by applying for your federal tax-ID (or EIN) from the IRS as well as your 501c3 tax exempt status. Once you get your status, make sure to apply for any required licenses and permits based on your specific organization.

Registering for tax-exemption

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  • Your federal tax ID (EIN) is a number assigned by the IRS and used to identify your company when filing for federal taxes. You can apply online through the IRS website here.

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3. Creation

Creating your website

Now you can start building the online presence you’ll need to make an impact for your cause. Begin by spinning up a website to educate people about your mission and what sets your organization apart. Make sure your name is memorable and one you can use to set up your domain, and as soon as your site is up and running, share it to start building your audience.

Creating your website
  • Already have a nation in NationBuilder? Great! If not, or if you want to create a new site for your organization, start a free trial now. As you start customizing your homepage, make sure you have a clear message and calls to action along with eye-catching visuals that quickly let site visitors know what you’re about.

4. Infrastructure

Building your infrastructure

First, set up the bank account you’ll use for your organization. Next comes the fun part—optimizing your website to raise more money, faster. Get back into your nation to configure a donation page with built-in payment processing at a special nonprofit rate. From there, you can keep customizing your site and communications to drive action from your growing audience.

Building your infrastructure

Mobilize your community to exceed your fundraising goals.

  • Since different banks have different policies when it comes to accounts for nonprofits, research which bank is most accessible to you and works best for your organization’s needs. Bring your EIN number, certificate of formation, and any other documents required by your preferred bank when you visit a branch to set up your account.

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Whether you need a petition up in a flash, or you’re building a website hub for your top supporters and organizers, we have solutions to fit every size and budget.

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Disclaimer: The information included on this page and on related pages is for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to be relied on as legal or tax advice or opinion. Every situation is unique and NationBuilder does not recommend acting on information obtained from this page and related pages without consulting legal or tax professionals.