Starting a Non-Profit Organization in Los Angeles County, CA: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a non-profit organization in Los Angeles County, CA can be a complex process. It requires careful planning and research to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken and that the organization is set up correctly. This guide will provide an overview of the process for starting a non-profit organization in California, including how to name the organization, choose a corporate structure, file the deeds of incorporation, and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The first step in starting a non-profit organization in California is to choose a name for the organization.

The name must be distinguishable from other organizations that appear in the registry of the California Secretary of State, and it cannot suggest a purpose other than that described in the statutes of the non-profit organization. The next step is to choose a California not-for-profit corporate structure. There are several different types of corporate structures available, including 501(c)(3) organizations, which are recognized by the IRS for their charitable purposes. It is important to understand the legal duties and responsibilities of directors (members of the board of directors) when selecting a corporate structure.

Once the corporate structure has been chosen, it is time to prepare and file the deeds of incorporation with the Secretary of State. There is a template available on the Secretary of State's website that can be filled out and printed. However, it is important to note that this template does not provide guidelines or advice on all important considerations. For example, there is no guide to specific purpose statements or information on other languages that may be required in articles if the non-profit organization also intends to seek exemption from property taxes in California. The board of directors of a non-profit organization can consist of just one director under California law, but the IRS may not recognize 501(c) status for an organization with only one director.

It is generally recommended that not-for-profit organizations have between three and 25 directors. Additionally, it is important to understand how board meetings are convened, notified and conducted. Once all necessary documents have been filed with the Secretary of State, it is time to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This is a long and difficult process in which the IRS examines the history, purpose, organizational documents and finances of your non-profit organization to determine if your non-profit corporation is organized exclusively to pursue one or more exempt purposes recognized by the IRS. Finally, it is important to note that non-profit organizations may have a registration requirement beyond their state of incorporation if they request donations in other states.

What is required of a particular organization depends on several factors, including its annual gross revenue.

Kristine Domhoff
Kristine Domhoff

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