Washington Non-Profits, a group of non-profit organizations in Washington, are having their annual conference in May in Bellevue.
I receive a fair number of calls from well-intentioned people who would like to start a non-profit. Non-profit organizations have many of the same challenges of a small business and have as many (and, sometimes, more) regulations to comply with. Non-profit organizations must form legally, obtain tax status (and pick the correct tax status), raise money, hire employees, form a board and many other matters.
I would encourage anyone who is considering forming a non-profit to take some time to learn about how to undertake such a project correctly. The conference in May is a good start and reading and learning everything you can before you start is a good idea.
It is important to find a good lawyer to represent you during formation, working with the IRS and other business matters. Sometimes, non-profit board think that recruiting a lawyer for the board will solve two problems: a board member and a free lawyer. However, once a lawyer is a member of the board he/she cannot represent the entity so make sure that you have a qualified outside lawyer as well as a good CPA with non-profit experience.
We represent a number of non-profits for free; however, we have limited space for this kind of activity. We are always available to answer questions so please feel free to call if you want to learn more about forming and managing a non-profit.