Starting a Nonprofit


Before you start
Learn nonprofit realities from the experts

Thinking about starting a nonprofit?  This brief video offers some excellent food for thought.  What to Think About Before Starting a Nonprofit 

Download this booklet, Get Ready, Get Set, to learn what you need to know before starting a nonprofit. Find answers to all of your basic questions. 

Heed these Five Tips and a Warning at


The Steps for Starting a California Nonprofit Corporation
State and federal requirements plus legal resources

Basic Steps for Starting a California Nonprofit – a simple outline.

Resources for Forming a Tax-Exempt California Nonprofit Corporation from Public Counsel.

Attorneys Emily Chan and Gene Takagi explain the steps to starting a nonprofit in California.

Helpful link

Information on creating and maintaining your bylaws

Annotated Form of Bylaws for a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation [2010] from Public Counsel

Here’s an excellent article on what should be in your bylaws.

How to make your own bylaws cheat sheet.

And a website with good information and links.


Unincorporated Association
Alternatives to nonprofit corporation

Unincorporated Association.  An informal group that comes together to perform some social good.  Find more information here.


Fiscal Sponsorship
Alternative to nonprofit corporation

Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement between a 501(c)(3) public charity and a project (that does not have that tax status) in which, typically, the charity receives and expends funds to advance the charitable work of the project while retaining discretion and control over the funds. 

Learn about Fiscal Sponsorship

GrantSpace offers comprehensive information on all aspects of fiscal sponsorship.


Social enterprise
Alternatives to Nonprofit Corporation

For profit alternatives to the traditional nonprofit corporation.

As of January 1, 2012, the California legislature created two new classes of corporations for businesses that seek to pursue both profit and purpose: Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations.  Here are some articles that explain what they are and how they work:    


Nonprofit Startup Resources by State
Links for startups outside of California

Every state has different requirements for starting a nonprofit.  If you are not in California, the Nonprofit Startup Map will help you find what you need.  It provides links to helpful state resources such as nonprofit associations, legal support organizations and government agencies.