How to Start a Nonprofit
Every day, individuals like you are inspired to start a nonprofit to help serve your community. Starting and sustaining a nonprofit are not easy tasks, but we applaud your commitment to helping others. The pages in this section of the National Council of Nonprofits’ website walk you through some of the questions to ask before starting a nonprofit, filings you’ll need to complete at the federal and state level, and the standard policies and procedures that your new nonprofit will want to have in place.
- Looking for this information in Spanish? The Foundation Center/GrantSpace offers guidance on starting a nonprofit in English and Spanish.
The National Council of Nonprofits does not provide one-on-one assistance to start (or operate) a nonprofit. Instead, we freely share lots of information here on our website and encourage you to consult with local expertise (either an attorney, accountant, or someone very familiar with tax-exempt law and how charitable organizations operate in your state) to ensure that the new nonprofit you form complies with state and local requirements, as well as federal laws. We encourage you to read the information we share in all five steps below before making a decision to start a nonprofit. We also encourage you to consider whether identifying a fiscal sponsor to "incubate" your nonprofit idea would be more practical than starting a new organization. We also recommend that you familiarize yourself with state-specific resources, including those identified on this Foundation Center map and find out what opportunities are available through your local state association of nonprofits.
- Step 1: Do Your Research
- Step 2: Build a Solid Foundation
- Step 3: Incorporation and State Forms
- Step 4: Filing for Federal Tax-Exempt Status
- Step 5: Ongoing Compliance
For additional assistance, you may want to reach out to your state association of nonprofits.