Are you “stuck” trying to start your nonprofit?

You are not alone.  Starting a nonprofit can be difficult and time consuming. Many people download the IRS forms and try to make sense of the 14 page application, additional schedules and 38 pages of instructions.  Or, perhaps they filed their own articles of Incorporation, only to discover later that they are missing the required IRS language – causing their application to be delayed by months.  If you have downloaded Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Tax Exempt status, or tried to start your nonprofit corporation and are “stuck”, please read these 5 steps to getting back on track. 

Be Inspired.   Think about the reasons that you wanted to start a nonprofit.  What cause or mission do you support?  What would happen if your organization never got off the ground?  You have a special message to share, a destiny to fulfill, and a legacy to create that is bigger than you ever imagined. 

Look at the Big Picture.  Imagine you are floating in a hot air balloon, high above the earth.  What do you see?  Now, think of your nonprofit in “big picture” terms.  What do you want to achieve?  What is holding you back? What do you need to take action?  Don’t get overwhelmed – starting a nonprofit and obtaining 501c3 status is a journey.  Plan the steps along the way, before trying to complete the paperwork.  You will save yourself time and minimize frustration. 

Think on Paper.  As you plan your journey, write things down on paper.  Talk to others who have gone before.  Gather the supplies (information) you are going to need along the way.   Start with your mission statement and seek others who will join your team.  Map out the specific steps, in the order that you must accomplish them before setting out on your journey.  Do you have everything you need to get started? 

Be Honest with Yourself.   Once you have written your nonprofit’s mission statement and gathered the necessary forms, ask yourself these questions:  Do you have the time and commitment to follow-through?  Can you describe your organization’s programs, in detail?  Are you comfortable with the financial data page that must be completed with your application?  Are you able to respond to IRS inquiries in a timely manner?  Do you know what to do after your organization is approved?  If there is something you are not sure about, ask for help from experts who have completed the journey and know what to expect. 

Take Action.  Don’t hesitate, procrastinate or make excuses.  You can’t obtain 501c3 nonprofit status if you never complete the application and submit it to the IRS.  Get started now.   The approval process can take several months. While your application is in the queue, you can refine your programs, seek donors and build your team.  Do what you love and what you were born to do. Now is your time.

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