starting a nonprofit arts organization

Starting a Nonprofit Arts Organization

Starting a nonprofit organization can take a surprising amount of work. If you are only doing one project, find a fiscal sponsor instead of starting an organization. (See Fiscal Sponsor section.) If you are going to do projects over a long period of time and need the oversight and guidance of a board of directors, consider starting a nonprofit. We have included a number of online resources to help you research your options.

It is a good idea to speak with someone who has started an organization before. Remember that the laws governing the formation and running of non profits vary from state to state. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a lawyer to start a nonprofit. Just do your research and talk to people who are savvy about the process of incorporation. 

If you are considering establishing a nonprofit organization, The Foundation Center may provide you with essential resources. A list of resources that discuss how to incorporate as a nonprofit organization can be found on the internet. Some technical assistance organizations provide assistance with starting a nonprofit organization. Check with Lawyers for the Arts, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, or your local bar association.

Some questions to ask yourself before actually starting a nonprofit organization are:

Who will be involved in your organization? Non profits are required to have a Board of Directors (at least three members), and are not run by one person. 

What is the mission of your organization?

What is the feasibility of raising funds for a nonprofit?

Will you have an earned income strategy?

Will your nonprofit duplicate other services already offered in your area?

What will the organizational structure be?

Do you have a business plan?

Will the staff get paid?

Do you have a marketing plan?

Should I do this myself, or partner with another organization?

Is a new organization the only or best way to accomplish your mission?

Do you have the required leadership skills?


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