By-Laws and 501(c)(3) Status
Incorporating your nonprofit group can be intimidating, but River Network's Starting Up: A Handbook for New River and Watershed Organizations manual has helped hundreds of nonprofits all over the country to maneuver this process. Cost: $40 on the River Network website.
BY-LAWS FOR YOUR GROUP
Nonprofit bylaws are basically an instruction manual for your organization. They include your organization’s mission and purpose as well as
important elements of how your group will be organized, led, and run.
Creating by-laws for your organization can be a little intimidating because they seem so permanent and official! But luckily there are a lot of online resources that can help you create them. Plus, remember you can always amend them down the road if you feel you need to. Just remember: always have an attorney look over your bylaws before you submit them to the IRS.
Click here for basics on bylaws.
Below are some good examples from environmental groups all over the country:
COMPLIANCE GUIDE FOR PUBLIC CHARITIES
Activities that may jeopardize a charity's exempt status
Federal information returns, tax returns or notices that must be filed
Recordkeeping—why, what, when
Changes to be reported to the IRS
Required public disclosures
Resources for public charities
Incorporating Your Group / 501(c)(3)
Georgia Secretary of State website
This site contains information on incorporating in Georgia and allows you to navigate to other areas of the state website such as Frequently Asked Questions.
Filing Procedures for Georgia
A link within the Secretary of State website with specific information on filing for incorporation in Georgia.
IRS "Charities and Nonprofits" Website
For information on how to obtain 501(c)(3) status. Publication 557, "Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization," can be accessed from this site. Scroll down and click on "IRS Issues New Guidelines for Non-Profits" to view Publication 4220 on applying for tax-exempt status, and Publication 4221, a compliance guide for non-profits.
IRS Exemption Requirements
It's required to fill out Form 1023 (Application for Recognition of Exemption) in order to be recognized as exempt from federal taxes.
Note: If you are not yet a non-profit, but are accepting donations, your organization's literature must state this fact. Once your organization receives its determination letter from the IRS, donations made one year prior to its receipt are considered tax deductible. Please confirm this information with your accountant.
As a tax-exempt organization, you need to be aware of public disclosure requirements for non-profits in case you receive a request for your annual information return or application for tax-exemption. Information that must be included is included in this report from The Alliance for Justice.