This is a special video edition of The Nonprofit Ally Podcast. It is an overview of the 501.c.3 nonprofit application process. If you are in the process of forming a nonprofit, this video will give you a good idea of what’s ahead.

To become a tax exempt nonprofit you need to get your 501.c.3 status. To do this you must submit form 1023 to the IRS. You must also include your nonprofit articles of incorporation and your bylaws with this application. So, before you start filling out form 1023, be sure you have:

To get more details on the steps involved in becoming a nonprofit visit the Start a Nonprofit section of this website.

A great book to help with this process is the Nolo: How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation. This book includes a CD with sample bylaws and articles of incorporation. Learn more about the book at:
(This is an affiliate link. I only recommend what I use and this book was invaluable. I highly recommend it.)

The IRS also has some great resources for nonprofits, including links to all the forms you’ll need, on their webpage at: Starting Out – Tax Basics for Exempt Organizations.

I hope you find this video helpful. Thanks for watching.

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  1. Wendy 5 years ago

    Hi Steve,

    I just want to say thank you for offering this amazing resource. We are launching our ministry and have used the many videos to work through the process.

    Now that all of the boxes are checked, I am working on filing for the 501c3 aka 1023. We are offering safety (educational) trainings to churches and other faith based ministries and not expecting to raise over $50,000 in the first three years. Would the 1023 ez form be the better way to go or no?

    Thank you,

  2. Rebecca 5 years ago

    Hi Steve,
    OMGsh! I stumbled across your awesome support here, and I am calmed by it. My “nonprofit” is about to make its debut on August 29th, and I am stressing over the fact that I don’t have status nor much money to get it going. My question is am I crazy for jumping in and funding it whatever way I can until I go through the filing process…I suppose the real question is when does one decide it is time to file for status, right away right?

    Also, does membership in the bylaws refer to the girls who will pay a fee to sign up for the program?

    Final question: I wanted to get my idea rolling before I involved the board. Is this appropriate that I want to put into play the ideas of the organization, and then get the board involved in what has already been established, and use the board for creative innovation afterwards?

    • Author
      Steve 5 years ago

      Hi Rebecca,
      Many start with little or no money. You may have to fund it out of pocket for a while. But you can start fundraising (as long as you have all your state paperwork in order). I would apply for 501c3 sooner than later. Donations can be tax deductible retroactively.

      Members refers to members of your organization (like being a member of the ASPCA or whatever), not participants in your programs.

      Programs won’t go in your bylaws. They will grow and evolve. If you put them in your bylaws it would be a pain to update them all the time.

      As for talking with your board about your program ideas, it is a good idea to keep them informed of your plans. Depending on your role, you may not need board approval to start your programs. But getting them involved will give them some ownership. You can tell them what you are doing as a “program update” at your next meeting. How detailed you get is up to you.

      Hope this helps. Oh, here is a great podcast with Becky Straw. She talks about the “realities” of starting your nonprofit.

      • Rebecca 5 years ago

        Thank you so much for following up. Your response is just what I needed.

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