A Layman's Guide for founding a Not For Profit Inc.

by Richard Mansfield of Scooter folk fighting Speed ( 8-Apr-2009 )
Here's a guide to forming a NFP Inc. on less than a shoestring budget. I'm writing this article for the demographic of Mr. "Has a Dream - Has No One to help them out, but refuses to give up," with an average H.S. education, once a loser turned just survivor, just the guy who never gets a second thought or look CITIZEN, the guy who's trying to reach out. My name is Richard Mansfield, for about the past 10 years, most folks would just holler out "GYPSY." Just a nobody, "John Q. Citizen" of the USA. Always impulsive, a "JUMP IN HEADFIRST" kinda guy. Well - I JUMPED ! And I learned a great many things this past few months - bear with me while I attempt to share them. If you have a big brain and work in the field of Law, Accounting, P/R, Marketing or if you write for a living - you'll find this no more than trivial at best, and SOMETIMES sarcastically humorous; I'll become blessed at "hilarious", I'll just hope for the best... But if you're just someone with a dream and a goal - it might show you that Joe Average can put together SOMETHING" with "NOTHING". I had a history with a very dark overtone involving a 10+ year destructive relationship with an extremely harmful and highly addictive illicit substance - "CRANK." I've been "CLEAN" for 14+ years, but have an abundance of time on my hands due to the effects of past mistakes: life in a wheelchair, mostly restricted to the two rooms of my home, sucking my 02 out of a tube, AND YET STILL being IMPULSIVE as Hell. I recently decided to act upon my vision: to begin a Not For Profit 501c3 Organization.  To aid the as yet "Unadjudicated" Temporary Guardians raising children displaced from Methamphetamine-affected homes. I'm trying to swing some bucks for Granny's and Grampa's, Uncle's and Aunt's - Brother's and Sister's who've STEPPED UP to take in the kids of Meth-affected biological parents - keeping these children within the family circle and out of CPS. Legal "Fosters" and those who have the means to take things like this to court have an easier way to apply for additional financial aid; those who just step up as FAMILY... well, you're in for some door knocking, headshakes and a lot of disappointment. Well, I'm trying to help. WHY, you ask? How cynical - because I care. Shame on you.
Succeeding in the initial start up of this philanthropy, here is my basic Layman's plan to establishing a Not For Profit Incorporation; planning to function as a 501c3 Grant Making Organization, based in the State of Oregon, with plans to hopefully one day dispense donations Nationwide. Big dreams - I dig it, well... it just might work ! Registration
    1. Either by snail mail or on line, obtain your Federal EIN number by submitting an SS4 application through the IRS. This service is free.
    2. Apply to your State's Department of Treasury for the specific type business you wish to operate. In our case this is an NFP Inc. planning to function as a Federal 501c3 Tax Exempt Organization. An Oregon State Business License of this type, filed on line, as of the date of this writing - 10 March 2009 is $50.00 plus an additional $5.00 for a confirmation copy. Ensure that you pay particular attention to "Article 7 of the specifics, as if you simply choose the "events in the event of dissolution", rather than actually insert the "intent to function as a Public Charity" clause, you are in for MAJOR frustration, confusion and an additional $50.00 fee to amend your Articles of Incorporation", prior to being eligible to make your 501c3 application down the road! In OREGON, begin this portion of your journey here.
    3. Feeling talented? Artsy? Have a one of a kind killer tagline and a marketing scheme up your sleeve - yet aren't of the mindset to make a buck for yourself - just give it all to Charity? Know enough of the world to wonder if someone will step in to take it all away? Should you have any original artwork, performance art, trademarks for branding, etc. Check into protecting your Intellectual Property ("INDIVIDUALS" own copyrights - I then made my rights available to the ORGANIZATION) On Line copyright application cost is $35.00 each TYPE of submission. (e.g. I submitted first a "Performance Art" selection: A "Screenplay" for a Public Service Announcement, a "script", incurring a initial $35.00 fee, then several different logo variations - under a different TYPE: "Visual Artwork"- another $35.00 fee... Upon submitting 2 more "Screenplays" - I realized that had I submitted the original "Script" as a segment in a "Series" in Performance Art" I could have just added on more "Screenplays" as the situation developed. Once the scripts become video media - those will be submitted again - incurring a $35.00 fee... Diggit) One can do this ALL On Line - from uploading all the files to paying the fee... Investigate "Copyright" here (yeah, as I said before, "HEAD FIRST").
    4. If you plan to function as a IRS Tax Exempt Organization, giving you the availability to give out that all important tax deductable receipt and making future "GRANTS" and Corporate Donations actually POSSIBLE and POSSIBLY EVEN attractive -you'll need to file a form 1023 or a comparable application with the IRS within 27 months after filing your ORIGINAL STATE Business paperwork.
    While the appearance of the IRS material can be quite daunting - in my NON LAW / NON ACCOUNTING; TOTALLY  NONPROFESSIONAL OPINION - the "application" itself is not difficult to complete. Supporting documentation however, needs to be extremely explicit. There are many steps: Recruiting a BOARD, Mission Statements, By-Laws, Expense Forecasts, detailed explanations, re-writes, re-prints, re-scans, re-pdf's. etc... If you have the option of COUNCIL , I'd suggest calling in a favor - I didn't - I learned - I LEARNED A LOT. (There is an individual HERE who runs a Tele-Seminar that I found very helpful and there are the Pre Paid Legal Service type folks such as Hither and Yon . If your into sinking your teeth into an extremely interesting project - just get started; it's all possible. As we are still in the "prep phase" for our 501 application, anticipating the actual mailing of the packet on 3 April - I'll have to update you later; but I truly believe we have it all in order - and I highly doubt that the IRS will just TAKE our application fee and then stonewall us.) The folks "Staffing" the IRS Telephone FAQ Team are very friendly and helpful - "YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK" (not like the olden days where we we were all frightened of any interaction)  so don't hesitate to give them a call. The minimum fee associated with 501c3 application is $300.00 if your "Good Faith Financial Forecast of Expected Annual Gross Receipts" for the next 4 reporting years in under $10,000 - GROSS RECEIPTS above that figure incur the the high end fee which is $700.00. Investigate forming your 501c3 HERE. Those are ONLY the BASICS on the "Licensing".

     

      A few tips on P/R:

       

      GO CRAZY WITH THE TOOLBARS !

      Develop a Web Presence! Make it yours and OWN IT BABY! If it sux, make it suck your way man! Choose domain names wisely, attempt to anticipate potential incursions down the road but don't get paranoid and go overboard. Out of the MANY registration and hosting options I've investigated, I chose HOMESTEAD. Why: For 47 bux a month I have like 7 active domain addresses 3 more parked - I've namaged to figure out how to get our site to place in the first 2 pages of every search engibne if you are searching a specific niche; their SiteBuilder software is extremely easy to use and the folks within the C/S department are the most helpful people I've run across - happy, helpful, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. I have experienced ZERO problems with down time and  ANYTIME I have a question or concern; the answer is simply a service ticket or a phone call away! IMHO, the prices are extremely reasonable and my hunch is if you've no HTML or Web Design experience you will be very satisfied. I did try GoDaddy  - but for ME, it was very confusing and I lost a lot of money due to extenuating circumstances. I'm not gonna talk down on anyone - they've got adds in the Super Bowl for god's sake - they told me so, I found it a bummer. If your a complete NOVICE like me, stay as simple as you can and just try to learn as you go. If you plan to do $$$ exchanges via the web, you'll need to check into establishing a PayPal account or start the selection process from JILLIONS of "Merchant Account" type services - "DANGER WILL ROBINSON" - these dudes are... "PLUCKY" ! I chose to go simple and stable and stick with using PayPal. My Hosting Service offers a very nice STORE UPGRADE PACKAGE but we're nowhere near the point of needing to invest there yet.
      1. Establish your Corporate Identity Profile carefully and with discretion! You are about to become PUBLIC RECORD until the human race faces extinction!
      2. Research every "Social Networking Site" you have the ability to manage EFFICIENTLY. (i.e. FACEBOOK , MYSPACE , VOLUNTEERMATCH , etc.) Open a free account at PHOTOBUCKET to store you images for easy access posting as you "FORUM" or "BLOG"your way to success. (Though I have yet to actually receive a return reply - there are several reportedly reputable avenues to reach the "Agents" and "Publicists" of the "STARS." "It seemed reasonable at the time, Your Honor"! We'll see how it pans out; I'll give one 3 months!)
      3. "Blog" and "Forum" as you feel it's needed; BE CAREFUL HERE ! Don't reach such an exuberant and manic state where you come across as a "SPAMMER". Choose a topic where you're VERY WELL INFORMED. choose your words carefully, SPELL CHECK EVERYTHING - TWICE (sometimes that isn't enough - try to stop spilling coffee into your keyboard), and set a limit to the number of posts you will make each day.
      4. When "collaborating" and "networking" with those you hope will help further your initiative's potential, again LIMIT yourself in the number of emails and other correspondence. While YOU are passionate about your project, other folks have lives, agendas, and deadlines. You DO NOT want to come out of the gate appearing, "NEEDY". It's not always coming across on the other end of the way you are trying to spell it out.
      FUND-RAISING:

       

        1. Merchandising for fundraising is to big a topic to get into detail about here - now - after re-re-re editing this article and pissing the editer off for the 61st time... I KNOW HOW EZ WORDPRESS CAN REALLY BE - I'll be writing alot of ARTICLES - count on one - for now suffice it to say, T'Shirts, Bumperstickers, Posters, & BUSINESS CARDS of course. Whatever you can be proud of and what your budget allows - it's going to be a gamble for the first few years. There are compassionate companies out there who are willing to offer an NFP discount, ASK. Should you receive an affirmative determination after filing your 501 application, when fund raising with merchandise - the proper terminology is, "QUID PRO QUO" $$$ exchange for Merchandise... There is no tax credit for the "Gift-er" except on the amount of any donation OVER the worth of the item. This needs to be PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED TO ALL. (Note to whomever: Learn and understand the difference between the term "Net Profit" and "Gross Receipts", you WILL need to know this! You may well be defined and or adjudicated as a "CRAZY PERSON" if you don't)
        2. Accepting donations. You can and you should ask for compassionate donations to your cause. Should your  exemption status be approved, this gift will be a write off for the BENEFACTOR. Until you have been granted TAX EXEMPT ORGANIZATION STATUS, you can choose a BENEFICIARY working in a similar scope from the FACEBOOK CAUSE area or seek to "Operate Under the Umbrella of an Established 501c3 Organization" - thus allowing your Sponsors a Tax Deductible Receipt. Also, once becoming 501c3 approved, make it a point to get in touch with GUIDESTAR. These are WONDERFUL people and becoming accepted to their database will be to your benefit.)
        Those were the steps taken these past few months to get the ball rolling.
          To date we have brought in over $1,000.00 in donation:
          1. We have donated $200.00 as of 25 March 2009 to a family matching our profile.
          2. We have banked another $300.00 strictly designated for grants - the funds necessary to meet our 1st quarter 2009 GOAL to donate a total of $500.00 by April.
          3. We have reserved the $300.00 necessary to make our form 1023 application for 501c3 status.
          4. We've stocked a basic inventory of items and already run that dry - we're now working off of a second merchandise order!
          What I began from simply a dream as a project just to try to stay busy... To try to do some good for some families in need... Is actually trying to shape up into a viable resource !

           

          SO - NEVER GIVE UP -- the standard for the making or breaking of a Business is said to be, "5 YEARS!" While it is easy to become discouraged - for every 20 places that profess their desire to help, you might be lucky to see 1 actually step up...

          KEEP THE FAITH -- if I can make something from nothing, YOU CAN TOO. As my Mentor stated as I launched this mission, "It's the vision of the dream that determines the outcome". If the MOST we ever do is to help out these first few families, we've done something grand; that suits me just fine.
          by Richard Mansfield, Gypsy, Scooter folk fighting Speed, The Make My Tomorrow Your Today Society Original art image, logo for S-F-F-S

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