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Are you dedicated and passionate about certain causes that affect you and your community? Are you highly organized and ready to put in the time, effort, and money to give even more back to your community? You might be ready to consider starting a nonprofit organization. In this guide, "starting a nonprofit" means that you want to form a 501(c)(3)public charity.

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Research

Before starting a nonprofit, do your homework:

Fiscal Sponsorship

If you are not ready to start your own nonprofit, you might want to think about Fiscal Scholarship. Fiscal Sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack exempt status. This alternative to starting your own nonprofit allows you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations under your sponsor's exempt status. To better understand the pros and cons of Fiscal Sponsorship, see Fusion Partnership's Comparison Chart.

If you find there are other nonprofits already doing what you want to do, here are a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer or work for an existing nonprofit that shares your mission.
  • Find a nonprofit with a similar mission that will act as your fiscal sponsor. This arrangement may help you become eligible for more funding opportunities without needing to obtain your own exempt status.
  • Start a for-profit, small business.

Ready to Form a Nonprofit?

Learn how to form a Maryland nonprofit at the Maryland Charitable Organization Division. Information on registering a charity includes the Registration Statement for Charitable Organizations (COR-92).

  1. Form a Board of Directors that includes information on board structure, board officers, and board recruitment
  2. Complete and File Form 1023 for federal tax exemption.
  3. Fill out Articles of Incorporation for a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation. Complete this form for Maryland state tax exemption.
  4. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).The EIN is similar to a Social Security Number, but it is for your nonprofit organization.

More Information

  • The Candid's Nonprofit Startup Resources by State provides links to helpful state and national resources such as nonprofit associations, legal support organizations and government agencies. If you intend to solicit funds from other states, you need to register in each one. Harbor Compliance also has a Fundraising Compliance Guide with more information.
  • Candid’s How Do I Start a Nonprofit Organization guide includes online training and websites about nonprofit start-up.
  • Hurwit & Associates’ Nonprofit Law Resource Library includes information on: nonprofit start-up issues, state filing and compliance, state statutes, international activities, governance and board questions, mergers and affiliations, nonprofit entrepreneurship, and charitable contributions.
  • Community Law Center, a nonprofit law firm, provides legal services throughout Maryland to promote stronger nonprofits and more vibrant neighborhoods.
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Business, Science & Technology Department


Browse collections covering many aspects of business, computers, cooking, health, psychology, and sports.

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Catalog of Nonprofit Literature database - 2 book covers

Catalog of Nonprofit Literature


Use this database to access the literature of philanthropy, drawn from books, periodicals, pamphlets, and more.

If you would like to know more, try our Live Chat with a Librarian service, or contact us.