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My name is Elaine, and was fortunate to start a nonprofit. I had been dreaming about forming a nonprofit organization for many years. Maybe you’re reading this, and you understand me. You understand what it’s like to dream about something, make plans for it, and yet feel like the time and circumstances are never right. I had notebooks full of ideas so that I would remember them for when the time came. I’ve learned many lessons along the way – and thought they might help you!

Lesson 1: Life is Never Perfect

Life is never perfect, and your circumstances will never be perfect in order to start a nonprofit. You’re taking on something you value; something that you know will require much of your heart, soul, time, and energy. Eventually you come to a point where you know it is now or never. This was that time for me.

Lesson 2: You Never Stop Learning

I began to take small steps. I went to workshops, read, studied, talked with others who started nonprofit organizations to glean their wisdom and experiences. I continue to do that today because I know that I don’t know everything, and I need to surround myself with people who are experts, so that I can be a better leader for the charity that I started. There is always something new to learn!

Lesson 3: It is Okay to Ask for Help

At first, I thought that I could do things on my own. Some people had told me that it wasn’t “that hard” to start a nonprofit; that I could look up things online and use online templates. I started to explore this and realized quickly that because I’d been dreaming about my nonprofit for so long, things needed to be done right from the beginning. I didn’t want to have my own mistakes and shortcomings hurt the charity in the long run.

Lesson 4: Trust the Expert! Lawyers are NOT your Enemies!

This is when a friend of mine told me about Legal for Good PLLC. At first, I was weary of getting professional help. I feared the cost. At the time, I was starting the nonprofit on my own and I didn’t have any money to cover the costs of the startup process (and didn’t have committed donors or wealthy friends to count on!). But I soon realized that a small investment in the beginning would pay off in the long run. I went to Legal for Good and told them about my ideas. They were so supportive!

They encouraged me, and suggested I let them make sure things were done right. They helped me through it all! Creating Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for Cultivate International, incorporating through the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, registering with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, filing with the Minnesota Department of Revenue, and submitting the feared IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt application.

Because of Legal for Good’s help I knew I was doing things correctly, and I was setting up Cultivate International for success. Legal for Good made it a seamless process – they walk you through each step, explaining the continuing requirements as you go! I will continue to go back to Legal for Good when future questions come up because I know they have my best interest at heart.

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