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The Ultimate Nonprofit Checklist



This extensive list takes you through the full process of starting your 501(c)3! Be sure to read through this list, check off what you've done, and go back and complete the steps that you've missed! Let's get started...


Research Phase

1. You know that you want to start a business helping others and have some ideas, but have no clue where to start

2. You learn what a nonprofit is (and isn't)

3. Learn the pros and cons of starting a nonprofit

4. Develop a mission and vision statement

5. Conduct market research to figure out if your idea is needed in the community (determine key competitors)

6. Start thinking about board members (partners)

7. Write out an overview of what programs you want to offer

8. Write out short term and long-term goals for your nonprofit

9. Learn the process to starting a nonprofit

Paperwork Phase

10. Research all state specific requirements for starting nonprofit

11. Choose a name and check availability

12. Recruit and structure board of directors

13. Draft bylaws and conflict of interest policy

14. File articles of incorporation

15. Apply for EIN number

16. Learn difference between long form 1023 and streamlined 1023

17. Complete 501(c)3 application

Planning Phase

18. Write Program Narratives

19. Determine the price you will charge for services

20. Determine how you will deliver services

21. Determine if you will charge for any services/products

22. Determine the location/space you will need to perform services

23. Determine who your target client is (who you want to help)

24. Determine how to attract clients

25. Determine potential partners

26. Determine how to attract potential donors

27. Determine how to recruit staff, volunteers, and board members

28. Determine potential partners

29. Determine roles and responsibilities of CEO

30. Determined employee roles and responsibilities

31. Determine contracted services roles and responsibilities

32. Determine volunteer roles and responsibilities

33. Determine board member roles and responsibilities

34. Determine keys to success

35. Determine objectives (desired outcomes)

36. Create startup budget

37. Create program budget

38. Create organizational budget

Preparation Phase

39. Purchase a website

40. Register for a nonprofit bank account

41. Create Facebook business page and apply for donation button

42. Open tech soup account

43. Apply for Google For Nonprofits (Includes free email)

44. Apply for Canva for nonprofits

45. Set up PayPal business account and PayPal link

46. Apply for SAM.gov

47. Develop a list of startup funders

48. Develop a list of potential candidates for offices/buildings

Action Phase

49. Draft and send in kind donation letters

50. Start a donation campaign

51. Write first grant

52. Host your first fundraiser

53. Contact potential partners to find out how they (or you) can help

54. Market programs and services

55. Serve clients!!

If you need help, check out our website for services and live trainings: Nonprofit For Newbies or text "HELP" to 443-694-4702

This article is just for informational purposes. It is not intended to be legal advice. Check other sources, such as the IRS, and consult with legal counsel or an accountant.

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