If you are in the midst of the arduous process of forming a non-profit organization, you know that there are many steps and pieces of information to keep straight. Therefore, here are some of the bigger picture items to be sure to keep on your radar.
Specifically, when looking for a law firm or lawyer to help with your non-profit formation:
- Look for firms that specialize in non-profit representation
- Ask about a fixed fee for non-profit formation
- Know that non-profits have different regulatory agencies and procedures regarding formation, therefore, having an attorney experienced in this are of the law is key. Missing one piece of the puzzle could jeopardize your ability to secure the proper status.
- Fiduciary duties and liability concerns-- both board members and executive officers need to be well informed regarding their legal duties to the non-profit. One means of ensuring that all members are informed, is by conducting a legal training or orientation with new members to discuss these relevant duties.
- Members should also be apprised of their duties of loyalty, and any other relevant duties; have a written statement of the non-profit's mission; and an established policy in place regarding conflicts of interest
- The IRS is keeping a close eye on non-profits because of past abuses, so having everything in order, minimalizing any appearances of impropriety, is key.
- As a business matter, make sure any agreements with vendors and the like are in writing, and solid. Don't let your non-profit get taken advantage of simply because you are just starting up!
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