So you have decided to start a Non-Profit organization. Great! Here are some quick steps to get you started.
Reserve a name with your state. This is important as it will be your "brand" please see my additional resources for a listing of every state's website.
Select individuals to serve on the board of your tax-exempt non-profit. The required minimum is 3. And the majority need to be unrelated. A husband and wife can be on the board, but then you will need 3 other who are not related to them.
Determine your officers. People from your board can serve as this and people can serve more than one. It is recommended that you the President does not serve as the treasurer also.
Organize a nonprofit operating plan, which is like a business plan for nonprofit organizations, and includes a description of the organization's location, staffing, activities, funding, fund raising plan and budget.
Create your bylaws. Again, in additional resources I have enclosed a link for example bylaws to follow.
Incorporate or Trust your non-profit. This can be done again through your states web site.
Apply to the IRS for an Employee Identification Number. (E.I.N) This is site is listed in additional resources as well.
Fill out form 1023 on the IRS.gov website. (They have a form search on the main page) This is for your tax-exempt. At this time you can also apply for state and local tax exemption on your state's web site.
This is it. You are established. This sounds so easy, but there are many obstacles that you may not prepared for. I have found the easiest way to have a company do the majority of the work for you. A tax exempt status can take month and years through the IRS. There are many companies out there that will do all the work for you for under $2000. My favorite that I have worked with is www.501c3.org
It is easy to get lost in all of these. Please get a company to help submit your paper work to the IRS. They are experienced and many have 100% success rate. Submitting yourself is cheaper, but more than 50% are denied or delayed so long that applicant abandoned their dreams. If you have a dream, get help so you can start your non-profit organization.