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Starting a New York nonprofit? Turn to an attorney for assistance

You've long thought of starting a nonprofit organization in New York to benefit your passion project. But you tell yourself you couldn't possibly do it. After all, you've never run a group or a business other than a lemonade stand.

Before you give up, find out the answer to this: Just how do you start a nonprofit organization?

First, research if another group already is doing what you want to do. If there is, find out if will you be duplicating efforts, or if you can offer a service another group doesn't provide. Do the residents of your area really need what you can offer? Is your organization something that can drum up financial and volunteer support?

Next, write your mission statement. That will be the guideline you will follow that defines the purpose of your organization, the audience to be served and just how you will accomplish that.

Follow that by writing the business plan. This will expand on your mission statement. How will you fund it? How many staff members will you need? How many volunteers? What events will be the trademark of your nonprofit?

With that done, it's time to consider your board members. They will be the governing group of your nonprofit and will have legal responsibilities. They will need orientation and training sessions. Their success is paramount to the success of your organization.

Then, incorporate the nonprofit organization. There are many reasons for that step. It will give your organization credibility, it will limit the liability of the board members and organization and it will assist with following tax rules.

And finally, you'll want to file for tax-exempt status by gaining what is known as 501(c)(3) status. There will be paperwork, a filing fee and a wait to receive a decision.

Once you have done all of that, there will requirements to register with the state, make annual reports and more.

It sounds daunting, doesn't it? Don't let the regulations discourage you or cause you to end your efforts. It's worth consulting with an attorney with experience in business law who can offer step-by-step guidance or assist you with the paperwork. Your project will be worth the efforts.

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