Nonprofits work to provide services that a community needs that aren’t available elsewhere. Many nonprofits are started on a shoestring with a small budget. But one thing that any nonprofit should not neglect is legal representation.
It’s a good idea to make an appointment with a nonprofit attorney after you’ve written your mission statement and purpose but before you begin fundraising and collecting donations. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the nonprofit is compliant with both state and federal laws that govern them. And in Illinois, nonprofits have considerable legal and administrative tasks in order to operate legally in the state.
Forming The Nonprofit And Incorporation
Do you know what type of nonprofit to start for your particular cause? This will depend on what you want your nonprofit to achieve, and a nonprofit attorney can offer guidance.
You’ll need to choose between forming a nonprofit corporation and a nonprofit limited liability company, or LLC. If you choose the wrong type for your intended mission, it will cost money to change.
Charitable nonprofits with missions that help people, or prevent cruelty to people or animals, are different than those for religious organizations or those for political activities and have different IRS designations. Veterans organizations, employee beneficiaries, and trade/professional organizations are also formed differently than charitable ones.
Consulting with a nonprofit attorney will help you understand what type of organization you’ll need to form and how to go about starting yours.
Name, Logo, And Branding
If you’ve decided on a name for your nonprofit, you’ll want to make sure that nobody else is already using it, or something similar. Consulting with a nonprofit attorney can determine whether there is a problem, such as trademark conflicts. Otherwise, you could be facing a legal confrontation along with costly re-branding.
Correct Filing Of Forms
Both the IRS and the state of Illinois have specific forms that need to be filed before your nonprofit can open its doors. Making mistakes on any of these forms can take time to correct and delay the formation and opening of the nonprofit. An attorney can help ensure that the proper forms are filled out, and correctly.
Compliance With The Law
Mission statements, bylaws, articles of incorporation—there are a lot of things required to start a nonprofit. But there are more of these kinds of things you need to continue operating.
Because nonprofit law is complex, it may be difficult to know if the organization is operating within the law. For instance, nonprofits must implement a precise and accurate system for financial recordkeeping. A nonprofit attorney can interpret the law for your specific situation, and assist your nonprofit with proper recordkeeping.
Help With Contracts
Sample contracts are available online, but it’s risky to use them. Having an attorney draft and review your contracts will make sure that they say what you need them to, and that they are compliant with Illinois state laws.
An attorney will also help look over contracts the nonprofit needs to sign, such as lease and rental agreements for property. That way, there are no surprises down the road.
Let Provenza Law Help You Start Your Nonprofit
With more than 25 years of experience, attorney James C. Provenza has worked with nonprofits to help them comply with the law and concentrate on doing their mission’s work. Need help? Contact our office at (847) 729-3939 today, or get in touch with our online contact form. We look forward to helping your nonprofit succeed.