The Third Tuesday meeting is well under way, but I am taking some time out to update the blog with something important we learned. Now that we discovered that Articles of Organization come first  , it’s probably time to dicuss just how to go about writing them.

First, download the appropriate form for your state. If it’s the Commonwealth, it’s your lucky day.  For the other 49 states, check out this list  for more info. Even though each state is very similar, it’s best to start with the form that is unique to your state (or the state your are filing in)

Things to have done before drafting Articles:

  • Decide on the legal name
  • Have ready the organizations primary legal address (if you don’t have a location yet, which you probably won’t, you are able to list a director’s address)
  • Decide on who the directors will be (i.e. if there is more than one person involved, have discussions about what long-term goals and responsibilities will be)
  • Have at least one (again, in some states this requirement may differ) person who can act as the interim officer for the corporation. This includes the positions of President, Treasurer, and Clerk/Secretary. Some states, like the good old Commonwealth, allow you to designate just one person for all three positions. This is what we at Tuesday, Inc. have decided to do, and have offered an interim position to someone to fill all three officerships.  Once we are up and running, this will change but right now this allows us to stay small, move fast, and concentrate on the Board of Directors.  (We will talk more about choosing officers, board members, and advisors in our next post)

One you have these four pieces of information, and your state’s Articles, check out some samples. A good place to start is the IRS Sample Articles of Incorporation for a nonprofit/charity.  Also, look at this wiki with sample organizing documents hosted by the Foundation Center.

Then start putting your Articles together, paying close attention to the permanent articles (stating the corporation’s purpose, whether or non there will be members, etc).  Once you have a draft, it is important to have an attorney look it over.  

The golden rule of starting a nonprofit: Always always always have an attorney go over any legal document or filing that you will be signing. Protect yourself, your assets, and your organization by understanding the legal implications of what you are signing. Check out our resources page for resources for finding legal help for nonprofits.

Another important thing we learned: Although you start with Articles of Organization, there is often an article that states that the “bylaws have been adopted by the initial directors and … other officers”.  So, even before the chicken OR the egg, we need to have bylaws written and approved by our current directors (T. and me) and our Interim Officer.

Yet one more thing to do before we can start filing paperwork…

*Note: It depends on the state whether you file Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation. Two names for the same thing: creating a legal entity and establishing it’s charitable purpose.

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