Starting a Nonprofit

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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.

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.

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Visionary Stage

Figure out your nonprofit’s purpose and who your community will be.

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Planning Stage

During this stage, you’ll put your ideas into writing and start the legal process.

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Federal Filing

File for federal recognition and tax exemption for your nonprofit.

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Minnesota Filing

Make sure the correct state agencies are aware of your nonprofit and its work.

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Annual Filing

File annually with various state and federal agencies to stay in good standing moving forward.

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Incorporation and Bylaws

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.

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Handbook for Starting a Successful Nonprofit