You may not want to create a business to sell products and generate profits. Instead, your desire is to serve your local community through an organization that receives charitable donations. If so, forming a nonprofit might fulfill your dreams.
Nonprofit organizations exist to provide services and support to communities. They do not aim to make profits for owners or shareholders. Instead, they reinvest extra funds back into the mission of the nonprofit.
Selecting a purpose
To form a nonprofit in Pennsylvania, you must first choose a purpose and mission to guide all of your activities. Common nonprofit purposes involve arts and culture, education, healthcare, human services and environmental protection. The mission states the specific goal the nonprofit will work towards.
You also need to choose a name and register it with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The name must be unique and indicate nonprofit status, such as “foundation” or “project” or “society.”
Form a board of directors
Nonprofits need a board to provide oversight. Board members set policies and make major decisions, ensuring that the nonprofit sticks to its mission. The board also hires key staff such as the executive director.
State law also requires specific officers for a nonprofit, namely a president, a secretary and a treasurer. At least, your nonprofit should have people who can fulfill these roles.
Create the governing documents
After selecting a name, prepare an Articles of Incorporation document to file with the state. This document formally establishes the nonprofit as a legal entity. The Articles list the name, address, purpose, founding members and board members of your nonprofit.
You must also create bylaws and policies for operating the nonprofit. Bylaws cover issues including how the board governs, director terms, voting procedures and how to amend the bylaws. Policies detail financial controls, ethics rules, employee practices and programs.
Running a nonprofit takes dedication and attention to legal details. A nonprofit must comply with federal, state and local requirements, so your list of duties may become lengthy and even exhausting. Still, the investment of time and energy pays off through the good works of the organization. With thoughtful planning, your nonprofit can succeed.