Thinking About Starting a Nonprofit?

Cecilia Garcia
October 27, 2009

Originally published October 27, 2003; updated October 2009.

Connect for Kids, originally established as a project of the Benton Foundation, became an independent nonprofit organization in January 2003, after months and months of research, consultation and, yes, stress about the process required to become incorporated and file for tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

[Editor's note: Connect for Kids then merged with the Youth Policy Center to form SparkAction in 2009.]

As the person charged with the task of shepherding CFK through this process, I quickly learned how little I knew. I also learned how critical it is to establish the appropriate governing structures and financial systems from the very beginning.

Here are some resources to help you think through the many facets of this process. If you have resources to add to this list, please forward them to info@sparkaction.org.

General Information

The Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, maintains a free management library for nonprofits. The index covers everything from advertising and promotion to volunteers.

One of the library entries, Starting a Nonprofit Organization, is written by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD. This resource takes a very logical approach to what you should consider and when, as you develop your organization.

The Internet Nonprofit Center provides information for and about nonprofit. Its FAQ section features resources on start up issues.

Nonprofit Genie, hosted by the California Management Assistance Partnership, offers features on issues of interest, Board Cafe for discussion of specific management questions, an FAQ area, and links to even more resources for nonprofit organizations.

Governance

BoardSource, formerly known as the National Center for Nonprofit Boards, offers a number of resources to help organizations build the capacity of their governing boards. The Nonprofit Essentials section of its Web site answers some very basic questions about the nonprofit sector.

The Alliance for Nonprofit Governance (ANG), a coalition of nonprofit technical assistance providers, nonprofit umbrella organizations, funders, public regulators, professional service providers, academics, and others, share an interest in promoting good governance for nonprofit organizations.

The Society for Nonprofit Organizations is a national membership organization that encourages networking, alliances, collaborations, and sharing among nonprofit organizations and their leaders. Its resource center provides resources that promote excellence in leadership, management, and governance practices.

Legal Information

The legal factors in creating a nonprofit organization are addressed in a comprehensive way by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD in this section of the free management library for nonprofits maintained by the Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits.

The Alliance for Justice can help by answering your legal questions about the IRS, and advocacy and lobbying.

Accounting Assistance

The Clearinghouse for Volunteer Accounting Services (CVAS) provides accounting services to nonprofit organizations through a volunteer match program.

Online Publication

The Nonprofit Times covers a wide range of issues in this publication for nonprofit management.

A Toolkit for Funding

Money isn't everything, but it sure helps when it comes to sustaining and improving services for kids and families. SparkAction has updated our Toolkit for Funding to help you search out financial support for your programs and projects.


Cecilia Garcia is the executive director of the Benton Foundation and former director of Connectforkids.org.


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Comments

I would like to start an organization called "ANGEL WINGS" A place our youth can go today when they feel there&;s no one to talk to,or where they think their problem is sooo big nobody will listen ot help.I have no idea how to start any info, would be greatly appreciated.

thank you very much for your time.

Betty Lange

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