It kind of sounds like someone thinks you can’t charge membership
for a non-profit organization. You can. We are required to only have
one actual meeting a year, but our group usually meets monthly (this
month was snowed/iced in). You have to have a President, Vice
President and Treasurer. The secretary and treasurer can be the same
person. In Georgia you file for Corporation Status with the Secretary
of State and you have to keep that paid yearly. You also keep the
Articles of Incorporation there; when you want to file for 501(c)(3)
you need to add “IRS Limiting Language” to the Articles of
Incorporation which state that you won’t discriminate against anyone
and that if you dissolve your group all the funds you have in your
bank account will be dispersed to another 501(c)(3). Somewhere in the
bylaws it also has to state stuff like no board member will be able
to vote for or effect a vote for something that will directly impact
You have to call the IRS and get an EIN. You will need that to get a
bank account also.
Every year you have to update your officers with the Secretary of
State when you renew your corporation status.
You make a 3 year projected budget for the Form23 and a narrative
also. The narrative basically summarizes all the questions you
answered in it if you get down to it.
And I’ve already explained the e-postcard for filing the taxes with
the IRS. If you take in less than $25,000. a year you only
electronically file the e-postcard. You will need your EIN to access
the page. You will make a password. Remember it for next year. You
let them know you are still in business, you check the box that says
your gross receipts were less than $25,000. If they weren’t then you
have more other forms to file…
You will have to check with your state to see what they require as
far as an equivalent form. Georgia doesn’t have one, so we have to
send them a copy of where we filed this.
A 501(c)(3) can not engage in political lobbying or talking about
how badly you think one politician is over another. That is in the
booklet they send you. It can jeopardize you status.
You need to take minutes at your meetings. You need to keep a
treasury of your funds. All this, your filing info, your tax info,
your ByLaws, Articles of Incorporation, everything, becomes public
domain. If anyone requests to see or make photo copies of it, they
can. You can charge photocopying fees, just be sure to add something
like that into your bylaws to CYA.
Here is a link to the IRS e-postcard page. It goes through
questions/answers before you actually do anything, so you can learn
more there. http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=169250,00.html
Here is a link of “life cycle of a non profit”. It goes from
applying to forms to file, to compliance, to if you terminate it.
This is another IRS site to help non profits called Stay Exempt with
As for grants. Depending on how hard the grantor makes the
application process and the follow-up paperwork, it can be a pain in
the butt, or not. You have to apply for them, give budgets,
narratives, fill out info about the board, etc, much like you do for
the 501(c)(3) ap. The state had this one we were doing (before budge
cuts) that was originally paper written in I think 5 copies, but the
last time it was emailed with mostly check boxes and a narrative. You
never know until you start to mess with it.
I hope this helps some. If you make less than $25000. I’d forgo the
accountant. If you have a sense for paperwork, you can file this
without the lawyer. If you just absolutely detest paperwork and are a
procrastinator, use the lawyer to get it started up.