«The Art of Forming a New Nonprofit BY LAUREL CANNON ALDER 2012 Revision A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE The Art of Forming a New Nonprofit BY LAUREL CANNON ...»
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
The Art of Forming a New Nonprofit
BY LAUREL CANNON ALDER
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
The Art of Forming a New Nonprofit
BY LAUREL CANNON ALDER
With special acknowledgments to the following people for assistance in copy, editing,
and assembly: Patricia A. Bair, Anna Boulton, Jennifer Broschinsky,
Terrie Buhler, and Bertie Stoker.
This handbook was first published in 1995 as a project of the Community/State Partnership of the Utah Arts Council. Subsequent editions gave grateful acknowledgement for assistance in copy, editing, and assembly to Anna Boulton, Jennifer Broschinsky, Terrie Buhler, and Bertie Stoker.
In 2008, the Utah Arts Council granted rights to the handbook to the Utah Nonprofits Association in recognition of UNA’s role in assisting emerging nonprofits of all types throughout the state of Utah.
UNA appreciates the spirit of collaboration exhibited by the Utah Arts Council in this gesture.
Revised handbook editions were published in 2009 and 2012.
For an electronic/pdf version of this document, please go to:
http://www.utahnonprofits.org/images/stories/publications/art-of-forming-a-new-nonprofit.pdf Disclaimer: The Utah Nonprofits Association and/or its board, committee members, or all others associated with this document do not provide legal counsel and are not a substitute for legal or risk management advice.
This guide is a supplement to, not a replacement for, the instructions provided by the government entities overseeing nonprofit corporations. Under no circumstances will the Utah Nonprofits Association or the authors of any materials provided be responsible or liable to any person or organization who disregards this warning.
2012 Utah Nonprofits Association 175 S Main St., Ste 1210, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 Phone 801.569.1800 • Fax 801.569.1806 www.utahnonprofits.org
UTAH ARTS COUNCIL
COMMUNITY STATE PARTNERSHIPTable of Contents Why form a nonprofit? 1 Reasons not to form a nonprofit? 2 Steps to Organizing a nonprofit checklist 5 1 Choose a Name 6 2 Reserve the Name 7 3 Articles of Incorporation 8 4 Form SS-4 11 5 Bylaws 12 6 Form 1023
Frequently Asked Questions Look for boxes or pages with a large question mark throughout the manual for answers to frequently asked questions.
Where to begin… Use this step-by-step guide to simplify the task of creating a nonprofit.
F or nearly two decades, the Utah Arts Council’s Community/State Partnership Program and the Utah Nonprofits Association have assisted organizations in the process of becoming nonprofit. This handbook is intended to be a step-by-step guide to forming a nonprofit, covering the most basic questions. The handbook does not provide legal counsel and is not a substitute for legal or risk management advice. Additionally, it is a supplement to, not a replacement for, the instructions provided by the government entities overseeing nonprofit corporations. These materials are intended to help guide you through the basic elements of incorporation and make the process simpler. If you have further questions or concerns, you are encouraged to seek professional advice. Under no circumstances will the author, the Utah Arts Council, or the Utah Nonprofits Association be responsible or liable to any person who disregards this warning.
What is a nonprofit?
An organization that has a mission to serve the public interest and has filed incorporation papers with the state and receives federal and state tax exemption.
Note: The Utah Nonprofits Association presumes that in addition to formalizing your organization by registering it as a nonprofit in the State of Utah, you will also seek and receive tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service by way of being designated as a 501(c)(3) organization.
Why form a nonprofit?
There are many valid reasons for creating nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits form the backbone of social, cultural, environmental and community services. Nonprofit organizations fill a void left by government agencies and businesses. Generally, the people who become involved in nonprofit causes do so for altruistic reasons. People who desire to form a nonprofit organization are dedicated to improving their communities. Thanks, in part to the federal government’s increased reliance on the services nonprofits can provide, nonprofits are growing at an unprecedented rate. According to the August 2012 IRS Business Master File, there are 5,303 nonprofits in Utah with 3,922 filing 990s. In 2009 alone, these charities accounted for $7.6 billion in revenues and $13 billion in assets.
In order to understand why nonprofits exist, it is helpful to know where nonprofits fit into the larger picture. Visualize a triangle where one corner is the government and services provided by the government such as schools, road maintenance, city parks, national forest areas, public golf courses, etc. The second corner represents the for-profit arena, including private businesses, professional services, Wall Street, and the production of many goods and services. Nonprofits fill the third corner and provide services that the other two sectors cannot or do not provide. The name the “third sector” originates from this concept of three different kinds service providers (government, business and nonprofit) working together to provide all the elements needed to sustain a good quality of life.
Why form a nonprofit? Because you are passionate about a cause; because you need to obtain grant monies to support that cause; and because you need to formalize the concept you believe in, in order to be recognized by other businesses and individuals. There are also financial incentives for becoming a nonprofit beyond the ability to receive donations. Nonprofits can make use of lower postal rates, receive discounts or exemption from property sales and excise taxes, and may receive in-kind services from corporations. The limited liability that directors, officers and employees may enjoy is another benefit of nonprofit status.
If you have a group that has operated informally without financial records or an organizational structure, the main disadvantages to you are the paperwork and fees required to form the organization. With the help of this handbook, the paperwork should be simply a matter of customizing the samples and following the instructions in this handbook.
Can we make a profit?
Yes. In some ways, the title “nonprofit” is misleading. A nonprofit organization can have more income than expenditure. In fact, it is healthy for an organization to have a fiscal reserve to provide insulation against changes in funding, requests for services, or changes in operation. Some nonprofits are fortunate enough to manage an endowment, from which it either spends or reinvests the interest gained on the money.
In terms of operations, nonprofit organizations should be treated as a business with business interests and needs. However, because of the nature of their missions, nonprofits should never forget that they enjoy the benefits of government subsidy.
Reasons NOT to form a nonprofit There are instances when it is more appropriate either to form a for-profit organization or function informally without 501(c)(3) exempt status. The reason to become a for-profit organization is to maintain freedom and autonomy. Founders can create an organization and invest a great deal of time and energy in their vision, only to see the organization changed over time by a volunteer board of directors. If it is important to you as the founder of an organization to always maintain control over the mission and vision of your organization, you should strongly consider forming a for-profit company. The purpose of a nonprofit is to serve the community, not a limited number of individuals. This is one reason that the government requires nonprofits to have a volunteer board of directors. Volunteer directors promote community ownership of the organization.
FAQ How long does it take to get nonprofit status?
Plan that it will take a minimum of three to six months to prepare and process the paperwork.
Using the sample documents contained in this handbook, the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status is not as difficult as some people fear. The first step, incorporating with the State of Utah, is simply a matter of preparing the Articles of Incorporation and submitting them to the Division of Corporations. The IRS Form 1023 and the Bylaws take a bit longer, but are still straightforward. Plan that each interaction with the IRS takes approximately three months.
Are there organizations that are not required to file Form 1023, Application of Recognition of Exemption?
Yes. The I.R.S. gives automatic exemption to two types of organizations:
1. Churches, conventions or associations of churches, or church-affiliated auxiliaries of a church, religious schools, etc.
2. Any organization (other than a private foundation) normally having annual gross receipts of not more than $5,000.
The I.R.S. considers these organizations as exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).
What are the requirements once annual gross receipts are over $5,000?
Once annual gross receipts are over $5,000 the organization has 90 days after the end of the tax year to file Form 1023. If filed within this 15 month period, the organization's exemption will be recognized retroactively to the date it was organized. See IRS publication 557 for more details on the calculation of gross receipts (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p557.pdf).
Should I file Form 1023 even when it's not required?
"A Nonprofit Organization Operating Manual" published by The Foundation Center states that some organizations may choose to file Form 1023 even though they are not required to do so for the
1. In order to receive a determination letter that recognizes your section 501(c)(3) status and specifies whether contributions to them are tax deductible.
2. To reassure potential contributors and foundation grant officers that you are indeed tax exempt under 501(c)(3). The IRS publishes a list of tax-exempt organizations on their website so contributors can check on-line.
3. To protect your organization. If later down the road the IRS does not agree your group qualifies for tax-exempt status your group might end up paying income taxes on contributions it received.
Note: Even though an organization is exempt from filing Form 1023, it is still required to file 990-N electronic notice e-postcard.
Can a nonprofit begin operation before it receives the 501(c)(3)determination letter?
Yes. A nonprofit organization, meeting the requirements of section 501(c)(3), can operate on a limited basis as an exempt organization before it receives its determination letter from the I.R.S. It's important not to put off filing for your exemption. If you file within 15 months of the time your organization was founded (date of incorporation), your effective date of exemption will be retroactive to your founding date. Donations made prior to the ruling can be accepted and are retroactively tax deductible. If you procrastinate in your filing, your effective date of exemption may be considered the date the I.R.S. receives your Form 1023, in which case prior contributions or income will not be deductible for the donor. In addition your organization may be liable for corporate income taxes. Organizations may apply for a 12month extension if they meet specific requirements.
When can we set up a bank account?
To set up a bank account, an organization generally needs to present the following two
The Tax Identification Number (T.I.N.). The T.I.N. number comes from the I.R.S.
and is obtained by applying for an Employer Identification Number using the Form SS-4 (see www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iss4.pdf for instructions).
Proof of registration with the state of Utah, such as the stamped Articles of Incorporation.
Often if there are associated fees, the bank will waive them for a nonprofit organization.
Can nonprofits lobby?
The I.R.S. limits the amount and kind of lobbying nonprofits are allowed to do. Charities are allowed to lobby provided the activity is insubstantial in relation to the overall activities of the organization. Any direct lobbying expenditure must be reported to the I.R.S. As long as you exercise care in the political activities engaged in, and keep the activities limited, you can lobby and keep your organizational status in good standing.
How can you form a for-profit/nonprofit combination?
As a legal entity, a nonprofit can enter into a business activity with a for-profit corporation or other nonprofit corporations. These partnerships can serve all entities well but require extra bookkeeping. You may want to form a partnership with another organization to benefit from some of the for-profit proceeds, such as creating a restaurant that gives its profits to the nonprofit. Or, you may create a for-profit and nonprofit dance studio, the nonprofit side of the equation would typically include the outreach and educational programming and the forprofit would be the studio classes. If you are interested in this type of arrangement, you should seek further advice from a professional.
Steps to organizing a nonprofit checklist
1. Choose a name for the organization. Check the availability of the name on the Utah Department of Commerce website (https://secure.utah.gov/bes/action).
2. Prepare and file an application for Reservation of Business Name (optional). ($22)
3. Prepare and file two copies with original signature of the Articles of Incorporation with the Utah Division of Corporations (see sample articles at http://corporations.utah.gov/index.html). ($30)
4. Prepare and file I.R.S. Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf?portlet=3).
5. Prepare Bylaws. See resources on UNA Web site for more information.
6. Prepare and file I.R.S. Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption.