Nonprofit Introduction Print E-mail

These web pages were created in response to questions raised by the several boards of directors of California public benefit nonprofits that I have served on over the years. I have tried to include the issues addressed most frequently, with as much general information to provide context for them. However, please keep in mind that unless it is stated otherwise, these issues are limited to California public benefit corporations.

z1_bucolic_valley_road_bordergap.pngI would never try to discourage anyone from starting an organization to address important social issues. However, if you are trying to start a new nonprofit, there are a few things you need to be extremely clear about. While the chances are that you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do and in fact are even passionate about it, you need to look as objectively as possible at whether a need really exists. While your idea for a new nonprofit may have originated from your dissatisfaction with other groups you have worked with, any new organization is going to have to share both the funding base and served community with those existing groups, and your plan may fail. In most cases, it makes more sense to join forces with an existing group rather than to compete with it. It may help to survey all the local nonprofits listed in IRS Publication 78 (available on-line) just to get an idea of how many nonprofits cover your area of interest, as well as how many are ultimately abandoned.

If a promoter just wants to direct his or her donation of substantial funds to particular causes, a donor-advised fund placed with a community foundation might be a better way to handle the matter. But if all these preliminary matters are considered, and it is still clear that a need exists, you should definitely consider forming a nonprofit, as so many citizen groups have successfully done before!