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How to Start a 501c3

501c3GO > How to Start a 501c3

So you’re wondering how to start a 501c3 nonprofit organization? Starting a 501c3 is a process. Our life blood is helping our clients navigate the process to a speedy and successful conclusion. The following are the steps required. For starters, it is important that you have taken the time to consider what type of work your organization will be doing and make sure that a 501c3 is the right type of entity for your vision. Don’t worry. We can help you decide that. If you are not sure, just contact us, and we can help.


Get Incorporated – You will need to file your Articles of Incorporation (may be called something different in your state) with your state and pay the state filing fee. Once you fill out and return your Corporation Questionnaire, we prepare your Articles, Bylaws, and 4 other required corporate documents, all within 5 working days, guaranteed. We email them to you in PDF format with precise instructions for mailing to your state so you complete this step with perfection.

5 More Very Important Corporate Documents you must have – These documents are extremely important and can be lost in the shuffle. You will need all of these documents when you incorporate your new nonprofit organization.

 1. We prepare your Bylaws.

This is probably the most important corporate document we prepare for you. This is a legal document, and as you’ve probably heard, a misplaced comma in a legal document can have serious legal consequences. Over our 36 years in existence, we have seen a lot of 501c3 organization Bylaws where they were not done by a lawyer, and we could foresee many problems. We used to charge extra for Bylaws, but because of the importance that all our clients have excellent Bylaws, we now do them at no extra charge.
You may read over the Bylaws once when we email them to you. But then you’ll put them in your corporate file and never look at them again. UNTIL you have an internal corporate problem. Maybe you want to be free of a board member, and he (or she) refuses to resign. So, you have a board meeting that he doesn’t attend, and you vote him off the board. Then he pulls out a copy of your Bylaws and says, “You didn’t do it legally. In fact, with these Bylaws, there is no way to legally get rid of me.” So, you get a lawyer and go to court to remove him from your board. All because your Bylaws were not airtight, unambiguous, tightly written, and crafted by a lawyer. That will never happen with our Bylaws that we prepare for you.

But that’s not all. Something else that often gets overlooked are two more documents that accompany the Bylaws.

2. Adoption of the Bylaws by the board of directors is one document. Without this, our imaginary stubborn board member can say, “The Bylaws were not even legally adopted.”

3. Certificate of Secretary, is the second document, certifying that the Bylaws were adopted by the board. Without this document, our imaginary recalcitrant has another argument against you to use in court. You avoid all of this when you use our 36 years of experience and do everything right for you.

That’s not the end of the corporate documents. Another document we prepare for you is the

4. Appointment of Initial Directors. How many times have we seen this document simply not exist. As if magically, the directors just appear. Another opportunity for our imaginary problem-maker to claim, “These are not even really the directors! Where did they come from?” If your nonprofit is important enough for you to begin, it is important enough to do right. You’ll be glad you did.

One final document we prepare is the

5 . IRS required Conflict of Interest Policy. Without this, you open yourself up to conflicts of interest that are not permitted by the IRS.

We prepare these five very important corporate documents for you within 5-business days from when we get our proprietary, copyrighted, personalized Corporation Questionnaire back from you. Or we pay you $200. That’s our guarantee. No calls on the phone asking where your documents are and when you can expect to get them. The documents come to you by email in PDF format for speed and convenience.


File for Federal Tax-Exempt Status – Next you file your 501c3 application with the IRS and pay the federal filing fee. Sounds easy enough, right?  Maybe you have thought about doing it yourself? But it’s fraught with minefields, potholes, stumbling blocks and a lot more. We often compare it to getting your automatic transmission repaired. There’s a lot to it, and the transmission repair person needs to be a specialist, with many years of experience. When we prepare your IRS application, we want it to sail through the IRS without taking forever. And without the IRS sending 15 pages of questions like what happened to this person.  We also don’t want you to have problems down the road, years later, when something in your application comes back to haunt you. When you invest your time and your treasure, you want to be sure it’s done right. Our 36 years of world class experience will help you make sure it is done right.
We prepare your application for you within 5 business days of receiving our proprietary, copyrighted, personalized 501c3 Questionnaire back from you, guaranteed. Or we pay you $200. We email your 501c3 documentation to you in PDF format with precise instructions for mailing to the IRS, so you complete this step with perfection.


Get Your IRS Determination Letter – This is the “golden” IRS letter that means your application was a success. You can now celebrate!


With us at your side, it’s not nearly as complicated as you might think to form a 501c3.  It just requires planning and a partner with experience to help you painlessly through the process. With over 36 years and 2,500 501 applications personally prepared by Harvard lawyer David G. Marmon, we have the experience you need to help you and make your 501c3 dreams come true.