Starting a Nonprofit

Know Your Options

Because most people thinking about starting a nonprofit have more passion for the purpose than the paperwork, it is wise to understand the ongoing reporting and record keeping requirements for nonprofits. Investing time on the front end to determine the level of interest and availability of funds can help you better understand whether a new organization is needed, as well as what other options may exist to move your work forward.

The Five Stages:

It takes time and effort to start a new nonprofit in Minnesota. Following all legal guidelines through the process can be especially difficult if unprepared and not fully informed. Fifteen key steps should be followed in order to successfully start a nonprofit. The steps we've outlined are meant to be used as a basic guideline and may not apply to all situations. Please note that some seek legal counsel during this process, although it is not required.

A comprehensive list of forms, fees and publications is also available.

Incorporation and Bylaws

In general, the articles of incorporation serve like an organization’s declaration of independence, while the bylaws are analogous to its constitution and laws. The articles of incorporation set up the basic terms of the corporation, such as its purpose and board of directors. The bylaws are the rules the organization adopts by which to govern itself. Bylaws are not required, but they can help define the organization and its governance structure. Bylaws should also be tailored around whether your organization has voting members or does not have voting members. If questions arise as the nonprofit develops and matures, bylaws can help future staff and board members determine a course of action.

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Forms, Fees, and Publications

As with the creation of any business, starting a nonprofit requires the careful completion and filing of both state and federal paperwork. In an attempt to make this process easier, MCN has gathered detailed information on current fees, as well as links to downloadable versions of the common forms associated with getting your nonprofit off the ground.

Additional Resources

Starting a nonprofit is a serious undertaking, but you can do it! For over three decades, MCN has been providing information to individuals interested in forming a nonprofit through both published resources and educational workshops. Additionally, a wide array of organizations, attorneys, and experts are available to assist individuals through the process through one-on-one consulting.

Handbook for Starting a Successful Nonprofit

Priced low for small budgets, this easy-to-use handbook is a great tool for those who are beginning the start-up process, those who are just thinking about starting a nonprofit, and those who just want to know more about Minnesota's laws and regulations for nonprofits.

Features include basic information about nonprofits; why you should start a nonprofit (or why you shouldn't start a nonprofit); a detailed step-by-step guide through the start-up process; sample articles of incorporation bylaws; sample position descriptions for board members; information on common management issues for nonprofits; and more.

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Handbook for SSNP