Forming a 501(c)(3)

In this free webinar, ASPCA Corporate Counsel Beverly Jones explains the requirements for becoming a corporation and applying for 501(c)(3) status. She also reviews the steps that need to be taken after becoming incorporated, outlines the benefits of obtaining 501(c)(3) status and clarifies what is needed to maintain the status. In addition, she touches upon public disclosure of documents, governance and unrelated business income.

Rescue groups, unincorporated sheltering agencies and those interested in starting a spay/neuter program will find this information especially valuable.

Top Tips from This Webinar

First Things First
Forming a corporation and applying for 501(c)(3) status are two separate steps:

  • Each state defines its own rules for forming a corporation. You do not need to be incorporated in the state where you are located, but you do need to be registered to do business in the states where you operate.
  • Only the federal government, specifically the IRS, can confer 501(c)(3) status. As a 501(c)(3) organization, your entity is exempt from paying federal income tax, and donations to your agency may be tax deductible for individual donors.

Form the corporation first and then apply for 501(c)(3) status.

When Cutting in Line is OK
If your state has an option to pay a fee to expedite the state's review of your filing of papers of incorporation, go for it. The extra fee may get your filing much closer to the top of the pile.

Check and Double-check
Follow instructions for the required paperwork and don't leave any blanks. Be as organized and thorough as you can, because mistakes and questions tend to slow down the approval process.

Ask an Expert
Consult with an attorney familiar with nonprofits before you submit your application. It's not required, but an expert's review and advice could save you time and headaches with your application. If your application is rejected, the notification letter will identify the reasons for rejection. Contact the sender of the letter to get clarification on what you need to do. Working closely with this contact will help ensure that your next submission is successful.

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