How to Start a Nonprofit in Maine


If you’re an entrepreneur with a cause, you might want to consider starting a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits can be structured in many ways, but they’re generally open to the public and exist solely to provide services or raise awareness on behalf of causes that have been identified as being important or beneficial. Here’s how to get started:

Decide what to do.

Once you’ve cleared the first hurdle of getting started, the next step is figuring out what to do. This sounds simple enough—just sit down and decide! But it can be a little trickier than that.

Think about your mission statement: what is your ultimate goal? What will make this nonprofit worthwhile? For example, one organization might choose to focus on helping people with mental health issues through education and community outreach. Another group may want to improve access to local food by creating business opportunities for small farmers and food producers in their community. Still another organization could work toward developing housing options for low-income families in its area by securing government funding or offering financial assistance directly themselves (this would require more investment).

Each mission statement has different goals associated with it—and each carries different risks, rewards, costs and complexity factors as well. Your board will need to decide which missions are best aligned with their personal values and priorities before they can move forward with any sort of fundraising plan or program development plans that align well with those values/needs/goals etcetera…

Convert to nonprofit status.

While converting your business to a nonprofit may sound intimidating, the process can actually be fairly simple. Once you’ve decided that you want to move forward with converting your business, check out Trademark Avenue’s website for information on how to go about doing this.

All states have different requirements for conversion, so make sure that you have all of the relevant information available before beginning the process. This will ensure that everything goes smoothly in time for when you’re ready to start accepting donations and applying for grants.

Get tax-exempt status.

You will need to apply for 501(c)(3) status before you can receive tax-exempt contributions.

The IRS requires that you have a charitable purpose and be organized and operated exclusively for such purposes. You are considered to be publicly supported if:

  • At least one-third of your total support comes from gifts, grants or other contributions from governmental units or the general public;
  • No substantial part of your activities consists of carrying on propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in Internal Revenue Code section 501(h)); and
  • You do not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

Form a board of directors.

The next step is to form a board of directors. It’s important that your board be a diverse group, with members who have different skills and interests. The more people you have involved in the organization, the better chance it will succeed. Your board should also be willing to give up some of their time to help out with your organization. If they’re busy professionals, this may mean giving up an hour or two each month; if they are retirees looking for something to do with their time, this could mean devoting several hours per week (or even more).

You should make sure that every member of your nonprofit has access to appropriate liability insurance coverage before becoming involved with Maine charities and nonprofit organizations.”

Register your organization.

Maine has one of the easiest states in which to register, and it only takes a few minutes. To get started, you’ll need to fill out a form and pay a fee. You can register online through our website. If you choose to register online, there is also an option for paying by credit card or debit card (note that there will be additional fees for using a credit card).

Meet paperwork requirements.

Now that you’ve decided to start a nonprofit in Maine, it’s time to take care of the paperwork. While some procedures are similar across all states (and territories), each state has its own requirements for filing articles of incorporation or other organizational paperwork. Keep in mind that the name you choose will also be used as your profile page URL. The following list includes some important documents and addresses you should consult if your organization is based in Maine:

  • Articles of Incorporation: This document is filed with Maine’s Secretary of State office and includes information including:
  • Purpose & mission statement
  • Names, addresses & signatures from all directors or incorporators who want to be listed as board members
  • Capitalization information (how much money they plan on raising)


Nonprofit organizations are a great way to make a difference in your community. To start one, you need to have a great idea, the time and money to see it through, and most importantly—the courage to try. There will be obstacles along the way (that’s life), but if you keep at it, there’s no reason why your nonprofit can’t succeed!


Taking the first steps to start your nonprofit can be overwhelming. But with these tips, you can make it easier on yourself and get started on the right foot. The most important thing is that you keep moving forward and don’t give up!

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