Starting a Nonprofit


Before you start
Learn nonprofit realities from the experts

Thinking about starting a nonprofit? This excellent post discusses myths, realities, questions, tips, warnings and the steps you need to know before starting a nonprofit.


The Steps for Starting a California Nonprofit Corporation
State and federal requirements plus legal resources

Ready to start a nonprofit corporation in California?

This helpful document contains:

  • An outline of the basic steps
  • Direct links to the required forms for the Secretary of State, Franchise Tax Board, Internal Revenue Service and Attorney General
  • Links to helpful articles and resources related to starting a nonprofit
  • Links to websites to assist in filling out the forms

California Attorney General’s Guide for Charities
Practical information & answers to questions

The Attorney General’s Guide for Charities is intended to help volunteers and others who serve as directors, officers or fundraisers for nonprofit charitable organizations. It provides practical information and answers to questions frequently asked about charities. In addition, the Guide summarizes some of the more important California laws affecting the creation and operation of nonprofit charitable corporations.


Unincorporated Association
Alternatives to nonprofit corporation

Unincorporated Association.  An informal group that comes together to perform some social good.  Find more information here.


Fiscal Sponsorship
Alternative to nonprofit corporation

Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement between a 501(c)(3) public charity and a project (that does not have that tax status) in which, typically, the charity receives and expends funds to advance the charitable work of the project while retaining discretion and control over the funds. 


Social enterprise
Alternatives to Nonprofit Corporation

For profit alternatives to the traditional nonprofit corporation.

In 2012 the California legislature created two new classes of corporations for businesses that seek to pursue both profit and purpose: Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations.  Here are some articles that explain what they are and how they work:    


Nonprofit Startup Resources by State
Links for startups outside of California

Every state has different requirements for starting a nonprofit. If you are outside of California, see this comprehensive list of resources.


Reinstatement of Good Standing with Corporate and Tax Regulatory Agencies for California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporations
Help maintaining or reinstating your status with the state and IRS

Staying in good standing with the state of California and the IRS is an ongoing process.  This free publication from Public Counsel, Guide for Reinstatement of Good Standing with Corporate and Tax Regulatory Agencies for California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporations both outlines what you need to do to be compliant, and offers guidance if your organization has lost its corporate and/or tax exempt status.   Download a copy here.


Changing an Organization’s Name, Mission, Programs and Services, or Governing Rules

Is your organization thinking about changing its name, mission, programs and services, or governing rules?


Why You Should Stop Relying on Grants to Fund Your Nonprofit

If you’re thinking about starting a nonprofit and the plan is to use grants alone to get it funded—think again. So many first-timers think grants are the way to go as their main funding source.