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Nonprofit Resources

Getting It Together -
Preparing for Your 501(c)(3) Application

Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to start your own nonprofit organization, there are certain steps you’ll need to take before you can file with the IRS. Making sure that you have a strong organizational foundation and all of your documents in order before you file can help make the process of receiving your 501(c)(3) status a lot faster and smoother. 

The first steps you’ll want to take are deciding on the mission of your organization and who will be involved. Creating a well thought out mission statement early in the process helps define your goals and gives people - and funders - a clear sense of what your organization is all about. You’ll want to start putting together some of the members of your Board of Directors, too. These should ideally be people that are unrelated to you - either through business or family relationships - and people that will be dedicated to your mission and will contribute to its success. You’ll need at least a President, Treasurer and Secretary that can be included in your 501(c)(3) application. With your Board of Directors, you should put together your bylaws, which will define how your organization operates and is governed, as well as your Articles of Incorporation, which will need to be filed with your state when registering your business.

Once you have a solid framework for your organization, you should then register your business with your state. In Maryland, this can be done online or in person at the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation.  After formally creating your business with the state, you’ll then need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which can also be done online. 

After holding your first organizational meeting, where you’ll elect your Board of Directors and ratify your by-laws, you are then ready to start the process of filing for your 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

Please note, this information on this website does not constitute legal advice. It is provided for general information purposes only. For more information, please visit the IRS website at

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