How to Apply to Be a Non Profit Organization


How to Apply to be a Non-Profit Organization

Becoming a non-profit organization is a noble pursuit that allows you to make a positive impact on society. By obtaining non-profit status, you can gain access to various resources, grants, and tax exemptions that can help your organization thrive. However, the process of applying to be a non-profit can seem overwhelming at first. In this article, we will guide you through the steps involved in applying to become a non-profit organization.

1. Determine your mission and goals:
Before applying for non-profit status, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of your organization’s mission and goals. Define the social or charitable cause you aim to address, identify the target audience, and outline the activities and programs you plan to undertake to achieve your objectives. Clarifying your mission and goals will help you stay focused throughout the application process.

2. Choose a legal structure:
Next, you need to decide on the legal structure for your non-profit organization. The most common legal structures for non-profits include charitable trusts, unincorporated associations, and non-profit corporations. Each structure has its own advantages and requirements, so it is essential to research and choose the one that aligns best with your organization’s needs.

3. Draft your articles of incorporation:
Regardless of the legal structure you choose, you will need to draft articles of incorporation. These articles outline the purpose, structure, and operations of your organization. They typically include details such as the organization’s name, mission statement, board composition, and dissolution clause. Ensure that your articles meet the legal requirements of your jurisdiction.

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4. Formulate your bylaws:
Bylaws are the internal rules and regulations of your non-profit organization. They specify how your organization will be governed, including guidelines for board meetings, voting procedures, and the roles and responsibilities of board members. Your bylaws should be carefully drafted to ensure compliance with legal requirements and to provide a clear framework for decision-making within your organization.

5. File for non-profit status:
Once you have your articles of incorporation and bylaws prepared, you need to file for non-profit status with the appropriate government agency. In the United States, this is typically the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The application process involves completing Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ, depending on the size and nature of your organization. Along with the form, you will need to submit supporting documents, such as your articles of incorporation, bylaws, and financial statements.

6. Develop a fundraising plan:
As a non-profit organization, fundraising will be a significant part of your operations. It is crucial to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan that outlines the strategies and activities you will undertake to generate funds for your organization. This plan should include various fundraising methods, such as grants, individual donations, corporate sponsorships, and special events. Additionally, consider creating a marketing and communication strategy to raise awareness about your organization and its cause.


Q: How long does the non-profit application process take?
A: The duration of the application process varies depending on the jurisdiction and complexity of your organization. In the United States, it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to obtain non-profit status.

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Q: Are there any fees involved in applying for non-profit status?
A: Yes, there are fees associated with the non-profit application process. The exact amount varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of organization you are forming.

Q: Can I apply for non-profit status without a board of directors?
A: No, having a board of directors is a requirement for obtaining non-profit status. The board should consist of individuals who are committed to your organization’s mission and can provide governance and oversight.

Q: Is it necessary to hire an attorney to assist with the application process?
A: While it is not mandatory to hire an attorney, seeking legal counsel can be beneficial, especially if you are unfamiliar with the application process or have complex legal requirements. An attorney with non-profit expertise can guide you through the process and ensure compliance with all legal obligations.

Q: What ongoing obligations do non-profit organizations have?
A: Non-profit organizations have various ongoing obligations, such as filing annual reports, maintaining accurate financial records, and adhering to tax regulations. Additionally, non-profits are required to conduct regular board meetings and provide transparency to their stakeholders.

In conclusion, applying to be a non-profit organization involves careful planning and adherence to legal requirements. By following the steps outlined in this article and seeking the necessary guidance, you can successfully navigate the application process and establish a non-profit organization that makes a meaningful difference in your community.