Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “non-profit?”

The term “non-profit” broadly refers to an organization or trust that is organized and operated for purposes other than making and distributing profits. The term often is used to mean an “exempt organization,” that is, one that is exempt from having to pay income taxes.

A non-profit is an entity created under the laws of a given state for not-for-profit purposes. The simple act of creating a non-profit entity, however, does not make it an exempt organization, though doing so is a necessary requirement for tax exemption. Whether an organization is tax-exempt is a determination made by the IRS after the organization submits an appropriate exemption application. (Some states also require a separate state exemption application.)

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Do the terms “non-profit” and “not-for-profit” mean the same thing?

Yes. Technically, they simply refer to the type of state law under which the entity was formed. In some states such as California, an organization would be formed as a “non-profit corporation,” whereas in New York it would be formed as a “not-for-profit corporation.”

Many people ascribe different meanings to the terms, but do so mistakenly. Indeed, the term “non-profit” is less descriptive than “not-for-profit,” yet it is used much more commonly. The Law Firm for Non-Profits naturally prefers the term “non-profit.”

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Who can form a non-profit?

In a word, anyone. Anyone who wants to create an organization to achieve a charity, community, public or other “exempt” purpose. That said, a non-profit may not be created to serve the interests of a for-profit business.

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Can you help me form a non-profit entity from “scratch,” and how do we get started with the process?

The Law Firm for Non-Profits’ Quick Launch service is designed for the express purpose of helping get your organization up and running, quickly and smoothly.

To operate as a non-profit, simply incorporating as a non-profit corporation is not enough. You must obtain tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Our Quick Launch service includes everything you’ll need to incorporate your organization and gain tax-exempt status from the IRS. You pay one low fee for a complete package that ensures your organization will soon be operating as a legal, tax-exempt entity.

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What are your primary areas of focus?

At The Law Firm for Non-Profits, we provide a full range of superior legal services exclusively for non-profit organizations and their donors.

Our services for non-profits include formation and tax exemption for new non-profit organizations, resolution of conflicts of interest, removal of unwanted directors, transactions with insiders, issues concerning excessive compensation, sales of assets, operating procedures, mandatory public disclosure requirements, minimizing foundation excise taxes, human resource matters, grant-making programs, changes in governance structure, commercial activities, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, sponsorship arrangements, director’s fiduciary duty and liability, contract negotiation and more.

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Do you litigate?

Our firm does not litigate (that is, develop and try cases in court). We are fortunate to have excellent long-term relationships with attorneys and firms that specialize in litigation and are familiar with the nuances of non-profit law. We do represent non-profits in administrative investigations by the Internal Revenue Service, state Attorneys General and other charity regulators.

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Can you refer me to a CPA who specializes in non-profits?

Yes, we enjoy a number of long-term professional relationships with CPAs (accountants) who specialize in working with non-profits.

In fact, we have developed a nationwide network of relationships with professional advisors to non-profit organizations and regularly make referrals for our clients in a variety of non-legal areas. In addition, as a member of ProVisors, we are able to target and reach out to hundreds of professionals to help you find just the advisor you need.

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Can you work together with my existing CPA?

Yes, we work with many CPAs, both those you already work with and those we connect to you.

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Do you work with for-profits?

We work with for-profits that either want to fund or establish a non-profit or where there is common control between the entities (some overlap of boards or management). In addition, we help our non-profit clients create for-profit subsidiaries and joint ventures.

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Yes. Through our membership in ProVisors, we have direct access to and affiliation with over 1,000 professionals in these and other areas. Just ask!

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There are some services out there that will, usually for a low price, complete the basic forms required for a number of personal, corporate and other legal filings. These services are not provided by lawyers and do not offer counseling, advice or any kind of legal guidance that only a qualified legal professional engaged in a relationship with a client is equipped to give. (In fact, we are asked regularly by their clients to finish the work these services started but were unable to complete to the client’s satisfaction.)

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Contact The Law Firm for Non-Profits to learn more about how we can help in
launching, guiding or advising your tax-exempt, non-profit organization.