Starting a nonprofit in Florida? Check out the key steps that are necessary for taking your nonprofit off the ground in The Sunshine State.
Starting a nonprofit in Florida is a great way to benefit the public or advance a social cause. As you get started, you’ll want to understand the specific laws and regulations that govern not-for-profit organizations in The Sunshine State.
Apart from following state and federal laws, you’ll also need to choose a name, recruit a board of directors, and conduct regular board meetings, among other tasks. Read on to learn more about starting a nonprofit in Florida, and discover tips for using technology to improve nonprofit governance.
What is a Nonprofit?
According to Investopedia, “A nonprofit organization is a business that has been granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) because it furthers a social cause and provides a public benefit. Donations made to a nonprofit organization are typically tax-deductible to individuals and businesses that make them, and the nonprofit itself pays no tax on the received donations or on any other money earned through fundraising activities.
Nonprofit organizations are sometimes called NPOs or 501(c)(3) organizations based on the section of the tax code that permits them to operate.”
Why might someone consider starting a nonprofit?
Floridians start nonprofits for a variety of reasons. It’s often to support the community and advance causes that might include religion, charities, science, education, sports, music, art, or public safety. Nonprofits operate on the premise of mutual benefit, shared beliefs, and hopes.
Why are some considerations that must be made when starting a nonprofit?
Before you start a nonprofit in Florida, ask yourself the following questions:
What’s your mission?
What’s your proposed budget?
How do you plan to collect funds?
How much will it cost to do the nonprofit work?
How will you raise awareness?
Who can fund the nonprofit?
Who do you need to recruit to manage the nonprofit?
How will you stay compliant?
You will also need to learn how to raise money for a nonprofit to keep the organization running swiftly. You can fundraise through calls, emails, social media platforms, charity auctions, or online events.
Steps to Start a Nonprofit in Florida
Use these steps to start a nonprofit in Florida.
1. Name Your Organization
The first step to setting up a nonprofit is establishing a good name. Choose something that will resonate with potential donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders. It’s also important to consider the type of message you want to convey through your nonprofit.
For example, if you want to promote environmental awareness, you might want to use the word “eco” as part of your organization’s name.
2. Recruit a Board of Directors
After coming up with a name, you’re ready to recruit a board of directors. A Florida nonprofit needs a board of directors to oversee operations. The State of Florida requires nonprofits to have at least three directors on the board.
3. Appoint a Registered Agent
A registered agent handles the legal matters of the nonprofit. The agent’s responsibilities include receiving tax and legal documents on behalf of the nonprofit. This is also a good time to appoint the nonprofit treasurer, who will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the nonprofit’s finances.
4. Obtain Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Similar to a Social Security Number, the Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS that acts as a numerical identifier for your nonprofit. This number becomes permanently associated with your nonprofit throughout its life span. To apply for an EIN, fill out form SS-4.
5. Hold a Nonprofit Board Meeting
Another critical step is holding a meeting with the nonprofit board. The primary aim of this meeting is to approve bylaws, elect directors, set board resolutions, appoint officers, and create a conflict of interest policy. Investing in quality tools with board management capabilities is essential to help you successfully hold your meetings and manage other board operations. Additionally, a nonprofit board meeting minutes template can help you streamline board meetings.
Understanding the Board of Directors' Role in a Nonprofit
Before you appoint the board of directors, it’s important to know their roles and responsibilities.
What is the board of directors’ role in a nonprofit?
The board of directors helps in the overall management and governing of the board and the organization. Their duties often include:
Set the nonprofit’s strategic direction
Oversee day-to-day operations
Manage fundraising efforts
Monitor financial performance
Represent the nonprofit in legal proceedings
Serve as liaisons with government agencies
What does the board of directors help the nonprofit do?
The board of directors plays many roles in a nonprofit’s overall success. Knowing these roles can help you make informed decisions when hiring the board of directors. Here are some ways the board of directors can help the nonprofit.
Ensure effective organizational planning
Reach out to their networks to solicit funds
Ensure the organization fulfills legal obligations
Provide proper financial oversight
Conduct organizational assessment
Conduct annual evaluation
For effective management and governing of the board, consider investing in board management technology. The software streamlines processes and allows your volunteers and staff to work collaboratively. The software also helps you to monitor measurable goals like fundraising and compliance.
Why might it be a good idea to appoint a board sooner rather than later?
Appointing the board of directors earlier can help the nonprofit begin to serve its cause. The board will ensure overall governance and bring in contacts and networks relevant to the organization’s growth. The board also holds leadership to account and offers strategic direction.
Getting Started with OnBoard
OnBoard is a nonprofit board management software to help Florida nonprofits manage their operations as seamlessly as possible. The platform ensures nonprofit meetings become more productive by supporting real-time collaboration, managing minutes, and automating administrative tasks.
Our solution also thrives on its ease of use, allowing you to focus on running your nonprofit.
For assistance on running a successful meeting and to track follow-ups, check out OnBoard’s free board meeting minutes template.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Nonprofit Organization in Florida?
You must pay a $35 filing fee for nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Florida. It costs an additional $35 to file a registered agent.
Do Nonprofits Need a Business License in Florida?
Yes, the state of Florida requires nonprofits to obtain a state business license. Visit Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation to apply.
How Many Board Members are Required for a Nonprofit in Florida?
The state of Florida requires nonprofits to appoint a minimum of three members.
About The Author
- Gina Guy is an implementation consultant who specializes in working with nonprofit organizations get the most from their board meetings. She loves helping customers ease their workloads through their use of OnBoard. A Purdue University graduate, Gina enjoys refinishing furniture, running, kayaking, and traveling in her spare time. She lives in Monticello, Indiana, with her husband.
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