How to Start a Nonprofit in Louisiana
You want to start a nonprofit. That’s great! Here’s how to do it.
Find a Need to Fill.
In order to start a nonprofit, you need to identify a problem in your community and find a way to fill it. For example, there may be an organization in your area that provides food for the homeless, but there is no organization that provides shelter for them at night. This is what we call “need.” If you can provide this service and meet this need in your community, then you have identified the beginning of what could become a nonprofit organization.
Once you’ve found the problem or need that you wish to fill, there are several things that must then be taken into consideration:
- Is there already another organization addressing these issues? If so, how does yours differ from theirs? If not (and if no one else has started one yet), what are some unique ways that yours could address those issues differently? You’ll also want to consider whether or not certain aspects of your idea could be handled by existing organizations instead of through a new one specifically dedicated to solving them; in other words—is it necessary at all?
- How much funding will be required before starting up operations full-time? It’s always important not only consider costs but also possible revenue sources as well–for instance if memberships were sold at $25 per month each person would pay about $300 annually plus any additional fees for events such as retreats which might bring even more money into their coffers over time!
Form the Organization.
Form the Organization.
- Choose a name for your organization. It must be distinguishable from any other nonprofit corporation in Louisiana and not more than three words in length. You’ll also have to pay a $25 filing fee if you register with the secretary of state’s office, so make sure it’s worth it!
- Pick a board of directors (the people who oversee your organization). Usually, they’re responsible for establishing policies and procedures, hiring staff members, overseeing fundraising efforts and more. They’re typically volunteers who work on committees or subcommittees within your nonprofit organization; these subcommittees may include finance or development committees that specialize in fundraising efforts or accounting matters respectively.
- Decide on officers (those who run day-to-day operations) like president/chairman/executive director/CEO) treasurer (collects money), secretary (keeps records), etc., depending on how much power those positions hold within your nonprofit organization
Write the Bylaws.
Bylaws are the rules that govern your organization. They will be the foundation and guidepost for everything you do, so it’s important to get this right!
You’ll need to answer these questions:
- What is the purpose of your organization? (This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to spell out exactly what you want to accomplish.)
- Who can participate in your organization and how do they join? Are there any requirements or limitations on participation? For example, is membership open only to people over the age of 18 years old or does your nonprofit accept donations from businesses as well as individuals. What about special interest groups; for example, can members who are veterans be given priority when making decisions about who gets grants from your group. Or does each member have equal voting power regardless of their level of participation within the group itself. And finally, if someone leaves the group should they be able to take any money with them or do all funds remain with the charity until its dissolution date arrives unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties involved before leaving (which would require another set of documents). These are just some examples; there may be other rules pertaining specifically to Louisiana law which may apply depending on where exactly within its borders this particular non-profit operates).
File Articles of Incorporation.
The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office has a form for Articles of Incorporation, but you should consult a professional at Trademark Avenue before filling it out. The form must be filled out by the incorporator (someone who is responsible for starting up an organization), so he or she needs to know how to file documents with the state government. After all, you’re filing these forms in order to receive official recognition as a nonprofit corporation.
The information in your articles will include:
- The name of your nonprofit organization;
- A brief description of its purpose;
- A statement that it’s not-for-profit and will be governed by a board of directors;
- Names and addresses where notices can be sent (typically just one address is required);
Your articles are filed once they’ve been accepted by the state secretary’s office. If there are no errors or issues raised, then congratulations! You’ve officially become a registered nonprofit!
Prepare Corporate Records.
In order to create corporate records, you’ll need to:
- Keep a record of all financial transactions. This includes income and expenses, but can also include anything else that impacts your nonprofit financially. Your board will want to be able to access this information if there’s ever an audit or investigation into your organization’s spending habits.
- Keep a record of all board meetings and minutes from those meetings. The IRS requires nonprofits to keep meeting minutes for at least three years after the date on which they were created so that they can verify that their organization meets all legal requirements and operates properly as intended under the law.
Additionally, it helps prevent fraud within your organization if everyone knows who authorized what actions occurred during each meeting, especially when there are multiple people involved with making decisions behind closed doors without consulting others first—which could lead everyone else astray later down the road when things go wrong!
Apply for Tax-Exempt Status.
The first step in starting any nonprofit organization is to apply for tax-exempt status.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that all nonprofits be formally organized and operated for one or more of the following purposes: religious, educational or scientific; to prevent cruelty to children or animals; for amateur sports competition; or for testing for public safety. In addition, your nonprofit must engage in activities that are consistent with its stated purpose.
Here’s how you can apply:
- First, make sure your organization fits into one of the nonprofit categories. If it does not fit into one of these categories, it may still be eligible as a social welfare organization under Section 501(c)(4), but you will need permission before starting operations as such an entity because they do not automatically receive this status without filing an application first.*Once you have determined which type is right for you, fill out Form 1023EZ-1 (for charitable organizations) or Form 1024 (for social welfare organizations). Both forms require basic information about yourself and your organization’s structure along with copies of articles of incorporation if applicable.
Nonprofits can be complex, but starting one in Louisiana doesn’t have to be!
Whether you’re new to nonprofit management or a seasoned professional, setting up your own foundation can be complex. It is essential that you familiarize yourself with the basics of how nonprofits work and how to set up your own organization in Louisiana.
As a nonprofit manager, it’s difficult to know which resources are most helpful when trying to get started. The What You Need To Know About Nonprofits guide was created specifically for people looking for information about how nonprofits work in Louisiana and around the country. This guide will help you understand:
- The basic requirements of starting a non-profit organization;
- What it means when someone refers to themselves as an “incorporated” non-profit;
- And more!
We hope this guide has helped you understand how to start a nonprofit in Louisiana. As we mentioned above, nonprofits can be complex, but starting one in Louisiana doesn’t have to be! If you’re looking for resources on how to get started and where to go next as an organization, check out our other guides or contact us directly.