Friday, August 2, 2013

Creating our Non-Profit Organization

Did you know that in order to apply to open a Charter School, we need to be an established Nonprofit organization?

Last week the Washington State Charter School Association (WSCSA) taught a webinar on the basics of starting a nonprofit organization. There weren't any slides or powerpoint presentations, so I (Erin) will do my best to review what was discussed.  

But first and most important: here are a few links to look at.  These are very helpful resources when starting a non-profit organization.  Washington Attorneys Assisting Community Organizations.  This is an organization that can help us find Lawyers and legal help pro bono.  They offer free legal clinics in Seattle.  They also have many resources on their website.  One major essential resource is:

How to form and Maintatin a Nonprofit Corporation in Washington State. Including this link to a 200+ page handbook discussing all the tips and tricks.

I learned most of what we need to know from this handbook, not from the webinar.  From what I understand, here are some of the necessary steps we need to take to form a Nonprofit:

1. Set up a board of Directors.  This is the governing body.  The board manages the business affairs of the corporation.  (ie. policy, budget, hiring, and other major decisions).

2. Decide on a Name.  Look at the handbook for a list of legal requirements of a name.

3. File Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.  Sign and file.  When this happens you are legally a nonprofit. 

4. Set up Bylaws.  These contain rules adopted for the regulation and management of your organization.  Bylaws are not filed with the Secretary of State, but are provided to the IRS with the application for 501(c)(3) status (we'll get to this part later).

5. Have first organizational meeting.  This is where initial board/directors must 1) Adopt bylaws 2) Elect officers 3) Adopt a conflict of interest policy 4) Decide on a fiscal year 5) Open a bank account  6) Approve any legal documents 7) Ratify Organizers' actions/Approve reimbursement of Expenses.  We have to start keeping minutes of the meeting at this time, and organize them in a binder.

6. Obtain an EIN.  Federal Employer Identification Number.  This is called form SS-4.  It must be completed and filed with the IRS.  After you do this, the Secretary of State will send us a "Master Business Application" that includes state tax registration, and employer registration.

7. Hold regular meetings.  Duties of the Board and officers are covered at regularly held meetings.  The purpose is to have strong, solid management of this organization.

8. Obtaining Recognition as a 501(c)(3) organization.  This is the biggest part of becoming a nonprofit that receives tax exempt status.  It is an IRS form called 1023, and it is probably just as detailed as our charter school application will be--well, maybe not as detailed, but it's still alot of work!  Don't fret yet!  We technically have up to 27 months to get this completed as a new organization.  But we want to get it done as quickly as possible.  This part must be done in specific ways that are laid out in another form called "Form 1023 Instructions".  And the above mentioned handbook can also help in this process.

These 8 steps are just a few essential actions needed to help us get closer to opening the school of our dreams.

We need help in acheiving this!  If you or someone you know would like to help out in this process please contact us!

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