Question by “D” 🙂: Starting a non-profit charity as a “business” and employing myself?
I would love to do this but don’t even know where to begin. This would be like a Goodwill for the area–accepting donations and selling them to support the charity. Any suggestions/tips?
Answer by Piggiepants
You have the cart before the horse. First you need the mission for your organization – what benefit to the community do you want to accomplish, are there any other organizations peforming the same function, who would be helped by your organization, and how would you help them. Then you can incorporate your business in the state in which you will operate, register with the Department of State as a nonprofit, and apply for tax exempt status with the IRS. Once you have all that done, you can open a thrift store to help raise funds, and after fund your mission, pay rent and utilities, and other expenses, see if there is enough left over to pay yourself. Keep in mind, many nonprofits are started and run by volunteers until they become viable, and that could be a number of years. Unless you have a commitment to performing the mission for which your nonprofit was founded and a pretty good pool of volunteers to help, it is unlikely to be successful, either as a business or as a nonprofit.
You can see the IRS online document, The Life Cycle of a Tax-Exempt Organization online to get a further idea of the governmance and accountability requirements needed. The Foundation Center has a number of helpful resources including online tutorials to help you through the process of incorporation as a nonprofit.
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