​​​​​​​​​​​​Real Help With Your 501(c)(3) Application

Prepare Your Own 501(c)(3) Application

By Sandy Deja © 2020  400 pages ISBN 978-1-7340724-1-9


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.Things To Do Before Applying

While it may be tempting to just dive into preparing your 501(c)(3) application, your task will go much more smoothly if you take care of a number of housekeeping items beforehand.  Here is a brief list of actions you must accomplish, or decisions you must make, before completing a 501(c)(3) application.  

1. Create an entity that can qualify for 501(c)(3) status.  

  • Your entity must be a non-profit corporation, an unincorporated association, or a trust. 
  • If you create a corporation, be sure to stay current on state-level paperwork and fees; the exempt status belongs to the corporation - if the corporation loses state recognition, the exempt status could be lost, too.
  • Although the IRS has recognized 501(c)(3) status for some LLCs (Limited Liability Companies), this type of entity is not discussed in this website.  [In addition, LLCs are not eligible to use Form 1023-EZ.]  
  • When drafting the purpose statement for your organization, be sure to include the 501(c)(3) "magic words" in your entity's creating document so that it will meet the IRS Organizational Requirement (PDF)

2. Obtain an Employer Identification Number.

     Your organization is required to have a Federal ID number before you submit your 501(c)(3) application.  Apply for this using      IRS Form SS-4.  Submit the form on-line or complete the form and call the toll free number listed in the instructions.

     Sending your Form SS-4 through the mail will take much longer.

3. Select an ending date for the organization's tax year, also known as an accounting period.

     Your tax year is the 12-month time period you will use for financial recordkeeping.  It is also sometimes called your fiscal

     year or accounting period.  Your tax year must end on the last day of a month. 

4. Prepare financial data.

     Financial Worksheets & Instructions (PDF)

5. Adopt Bylaws.

     Bylaws are the rules agreed upon for the internal operation of an organization, such as the time and place of the annual

     meeting, or the number of directors required to constitute a quorum for the conduct of business.  Strictly speaking, 501(c)(3)

     applicants are not always required to submit Bylaws.  In my experience, because Bylaws usually address important

     questions of procedure and governance within a non-profit organization, some IRS agents prefer not to approve a long-form

     501(c)(3) application without Bylaws. You can find many examples of non-profit Bylaws on the Internet

6. Hold elections.

7. Learn 501(c)(3) law