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​Nonprofit Organizations

In the broadest terms, a nonprofit organization is a business organization that serves some public purpose and therefore enjoys special treatment under the law. Nonprofit corporations, contrary to their name, can make a profit but can't be designed primarily for profit-making.  Learn more about starting and funding a nonprofit.

​​How do I start a nonprofit organization?

Arizona State University's Lodestar Center​ answers frequently asked questions about nonprofits, including:

 
  • Why do I want to start a nonprofit organization rather than a for-profit organization?
  • Are there other organizations in the community that do what it is I proposed to do? If so, can I become a program of one of them rather than start a new business?
  • What is a nonprofit organization?  And...what a nonprofit organization is no.
The Center also provides information on the five-step process to starting a nonprofit organization in Arizona, including registering with the Arizona Corporation Commission, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (the equivalent of your corporation's federal ID number), and more.

 
​The Foundation Center offers an online tutorial on establishing a nonprofit organization.  It describes the twelve tasks you'll need to accomplish to establish a nonprofit organization.  The tutorial is available in English and Spanish.

 
Need more?  The Library offers books about forming a nonprofit organization, including:

 
​​Image of cover of book Starting and Building a NonprofitImage of cover of book How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation

 

How do I identify potential funders for my nonprofit organization?

Get started with a webinar from the Foundation Center on "Grantseeking Basics" - it's available in both English​ and Spanish.  The webinar provides an overview of the grant seeking process, including what you need to have in place before you seek a grant, what you need to know about grant-makers and how nonprofits are supported, how to identify funding partners, and resources for your grant-seeking efforts. 

 
The Foundation Center also offers an online tutorial about using their comprehensive online database, Foundation Directory Online Professional, available at Burton Barr Central Library.  Learn how to create customized searches to develop targeted lists of foundations that will match your organization's funding needs.  

 
When researching potential funders, remember to consider the following:

 
  • Choose prospective funders by examining their descriptive profiles and recent giving histories.
  • Look for funders that have already supported projects similar to yours, those that award the type of support you seek, and/or those in your geographic area (or that fund projects in your geographic area).
  • Look for funders with which someone on your board of directors has an affiliation.
  • Review annual reports, IRS returns (IRS Form 990-PF), and printed guidelines to analyze funders' giving patterns and trends.
​A Prospect Worksheet will help you organize the information you gather.  The Foundation Center has models for institutional funders and individual donors.

 
The Library also provides several electronic resources to help you in your research.  Visit our Money and Business page.  Scroll down to the section headed "Nonprofits" to learn more about Arizona Guide to Grants and Foundation Directory Online.  

 
Several print directories are available in the reference collection on the 5th floor of Burton Barr Central Library, including The Foundation Directory and National Directory of Corporate Giving​.

How can I find out about current requests for proposals (RFPs)?

Philanthropy News Digest​ posts RFPs submitted by grantmakers every day.  You can also subscribe to the RFP Bulletin, a free listing of new RFPs delivered weekly by email.​

 

​How do I write a grant proposal to obtain funding for my nonprofit organization?

​The Foundation Center offers "Proposal Writing​ Basics" as a webinar and "Proposal Writing Short Course" as a self-paced online class.  Both the webinar and the class cover tips for making each section of your proposal stronger, what funders expect to see in your proposal and attachments, tips for communicating with funders during the grant process, as well as sample proposals.  

 
The webinar is available in English and Spanish​.

 
​The Library offers a variety of materials to help you learn how to write a winning grant proposal, including:

 
Image of cover of The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal WritingImage of cover of The Complete Book of Grant WritingImage of cover of Getting Grants.
 

 
These books are available in the reference collection on the 5th floor of Burton Barr Central Library​.  The library also has copies of The Complete Book of Grant Writing for you to borrow.​

 

Where can I find more information?

Visit these websites for ​more information about nonprofits and grantseeking.

 
​JustGrants! Arizona is a source for training, tools and resources for and about Arizona's grants community. Some of the information is available by subscription only, but the site also offers free information​ including tips, worksheets, links to sites with more information about the Arizona grantmaking community, and a glossary.

 
Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits is a statewide organization that serves, supports, protects and promotes the nonprofit sector in Arizona.

 
grants.gov ​is a clearinghouse for federal grants, where federal agencies post discretionary funding opportunities and grantees find and apply for them.

 
GuideStar gathers and disseminates information about IRS-registered nonprofit organizations, lising each nonprofit's mission, impact, reputation, finances, programs, governance and more.  The site also offers links to several informative blogs.

 
The Chronicle of Philanthropy​ website offers information on fundraising, managing nonprofits, jobs in the nonprofit community and more. ​

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