If you plan on working with feral cats and practicing TNR on a large scale, forming a nonprofit corporation has great advantages, especially when it comes to fundraising. When donations are given to nonprofits approved by the IRS, they are tax-deductible, providing an incentive to give. Perhaps as important, an IRS-approved charity has credibility in the eyes of a potential donor as a viable organization worth supporting. Most foundations will provide grants only to IRS-approved charities. Furthermore, in many jurisdictions, only incorporated nonprofits can conduct direct mail solicitations, raffles and other fundraising efforts.
Forming a nonprofit generally takes two steps - first, you form a charitable corporation in your home state. Second, you seek approval from the IRS for your corporation to get what is called "section 501(c)(3)" status. Once you receive this status, donations made to your organization become tax-deductible.
If you are not already familiar with forming a charitable corporation and applying for 501(c)(3) status, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process - even for those with legal backgrounds. This is why we strongly recommend using an incorporation service that does almost all the paperwork and filing for you. The service we recommend, LegalFilings, charges usually less than $100 to do the state incorporation and $499 to prepare and file your application to the IRS (for more info, click here).
While this may seem like a lot of money when you're first starting out, it's not once you've learned how much time and effort is involved in doing the whole thing yourself. Even if you have an attorney willing to assist you at no charge, if he or she is inexperienced in this area, it can dramatically slow the process down. No matter what you do, you'll have to pay the government filing fees (which total in the hundreds of dollars), so adding $600 more to the cost is well worth it. Also consider that most private attorneys, if they do charge full price, will bill in the thousands of dollars for this same service.
To download an order form from LegalFilings, click here (pdf file). For more info:
Non Profit Dept.
800-880-2602 ext. 375