Want to Start a Nonprofit?

You have a great idea plus the skills and passion to make it happen. That’s excellent!

Please know this:

  • It is HIGHLY likely that one or more organizations in our area are doing exactly what you want to do
  • Those organizations will welcome your skills and passion  


Yes, but you still want to start a nonprofit. OK. Nonprofit organizations provide programs and services that benefit the public. So, your first step is to describe in detail the specific group of people you will serve and the specific impact you wish to make. Please, BE SPECIFIC.


Once you have done that, your second step is to contact existing organizations doing the same or similar work and/or serving the same constituents, and then discuss your ideas with them. Investigate potential synergies or collaborations that would make your idea possible. (Find a Local Organization Directory at www.kpl.gov/ONEplace )


Your third step is to start making a positive impact right now! There are many alternatives to the long, drawn-out process of starting a nonprofit. You could:

  • Volunteer – Volunteer for an organization that is doing something similar to what you have in mind. You could join their board or even take a job. This experience will focus your ideas and interests as well as build your skills. More info at volunteerkalamazoo.org
  • Form or join a giving circle – Gather a group of people who wish to pool their time and money to benefit a local charity.
  • Organize an unincorporated association – Put together an unincorporated association to fulfill your mission without seeking tax-exempt status.

These first three steps will take weeks – probably months. But they are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. During this time, you will:

  • Meet and learn from wonderful people who are doing what you want to do
  • Refine your skills and focus your ideas
  • Face the day-to-day, year-to-year reality of running an organization


Your fourth step is to visit  http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/forming-nonprofit-corporation-michigan-36070.html . Read carefully through each step and the other resources linked on the page. Once you have finished this step, set an appointment with ONEplace@kpl staff to discuss your future: call 269-553-7910 or email ONEplace@kpl.gov .