Alright, lets make one thing clear here, I am not a non-profit expert. I have however worked on many non-profit organizational start ups. Below I have tried to add resources and value by putting together my simple how-to guide.

Starting a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Florida involves several steps. Here is a simplified guide with direct links to relevant resources:

  1. Define Your Mission and Purpose:
    • Before you start, clearly define your organization’s mission and purpose. Ensure that it meets the IRS criteria for a tax-exempt organization.
  2. Choose a Name:
    • Select a unique name for your non-profit that complies with Florida’s naming rules. You can check the name’s availability with the Florida Division of Corporations Name Search tool.
  3. Board of Directors:
    • Recruit a board of directors that will govern your organization. Ensure they are committed to the mission and meet any legal requirements.
  4. Create Bylaws:
    • Draft bylaws outlining how your organization will be governed. They should address key operational and decision-making processes.
  5. Incorporate Your Non-profit:
    • File Articles of Incorporation with the Florida Division of Corporations e-filing portal.
  6. Apply for an EIN:
    • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS by completing an online application Form SS-4.
  7. Register for State Taxes:
    • Depending on your non-profit’s activities, you may need to register for state taxes in Florida. Contact the Florida Department of Revenue for guidance.
  8. 501(c)(3) Application:
    • To obtain federal tax-exempt status, file IRS Form 1023 (Application for Recognition of Exemption) or the shorter Form 1023-EZ online.
  9. Pay the Filing Fee:
    • Pay the applicable filing fee for your 501(c)(3) application. The fee depends on the size of your organization’s budget.
  10. Receive IRS Determination Letter:
    • Once approved, the IRS will send you a determination letter confirming your tax-exempt status.
  11. Comply with Ongoing Reporting:
    • Your non-profit must file annual reports (Form 990) with the IRS. Learn more about filing requirements here.
  12. State Registration and Compliance:
    • Ensure compliance with Florida’s state regulations for non-profit organizations. You may need to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services here.
  13. Fundraising Registration:
    • If your non-profit plans to solicit donations in Florida, register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services here.
  14. Maintain Good Governance:
    • Continuously adhere to your organization’s bylaws, maintain financial transparency, and fulfill your fiduciary duties as a board member.
  15. Seek Legal and Accounting Guidance:
    • It’s advisable to consult with an attorney and an accountant experienced in non-profit law and tax compliance throughout the process.

Please note that this is a simplified guide, and the actual process may involve more detailed steps and considerations. Laws and requirements can change, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and consult legal and tax professionals for guidance specific to your situation.

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