Starting a nonprofit in Chicago can provide organizations with the opportunity to make the world a better place while mobilizing volunteers and supporters. Aspiring nonprofit founders must establish a legal structure to receive certain advantages such as tax breaks and to comply with relevant laws and regulations. The legal journey can seem intimidating, but following the right steps can help founders to properly start up their nonprofit.

In this comprehensive guide to getting started with non-profit law in the Chicago area, UpCounsel’s team of experienced business attorneys will provide an overview of the necessary steps and considerations needed to ensure successful and compliant operations for a successful non-profit. From forming an entity to choosing a name and accessing the necessary resources, UpCounsel attorneys have the expertise to provide comprehensive legal counsel throughout the entire launch process.

Forming an Entity

The first step to setting up a nonprofit in the Chicago area is to determine the appropriate legal entity. While the most common legal entity choice for nonprofits is a corporate entity, other options available to nonprofit founders are trusts, unincorporated associations, and limited liability companies. There are advantages and disadvantages to each entity, and UpCounsel business attorneys stand ready to assist clients to determine the best choice for their particular circumstances.

Once the choosing the legal entity has been determined, the next step is to create the business filing documents. Nonprofit founders will be responsible for selecting a name, drafting the Articles of Incorporation, applying for tax exemptions and filing a Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of State. UpCounsel’s team of attorneys can help ensure that the filings are complete, non-generic, and in compliance with all applicable laws.

Developing and Implementing By-laws

The creation of formal by-laws is an important step in setting up a non-profit organization. By-laws are formal rules that outline the structure of the organization and detail how the nonprofit will be operated on a daily basis. Developing effective by-laws is essential for the administrative success of the organization as well as the protection of its board of directors and other employees.

UpCounsel’s team of experienced attorneys in the Chicago-area can provide advice on local regulations and guide founders to ensure that their by-laws comply with laws in the state of Illinois.

Fulfilling the Structural Requirements

To ensure that a nonprofit is legally established and properly run, a board of directors must be established, annual meetings must be held and board minutes must be kept. Nonprofit founders must also create a conflict of interest policy and a document retention policy to ensure that relevant laws and regulations are followed. Having a board of directors that consists of several members will help ensure the diversity of opinions and perspectives and that the organization is well managed and operated.

UpCounsel’s team of business attorneys can provide comprehensive advice to nonprofit founders regarding state laws and provide guidance to ensure that these organizational aspects are properly addressed.

Accessing the Necessary Resources

In order to be successful, non-profit organizations must efficiently manage their financial resources to support its mission. To support these financial efforts, non-profits should have access to experienced business attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors. UpCounsel provides a team of experienced legal professionals who can help nonprofits through the financial planning and budgeting process and also assist with the proper procurement of the necessary resources.

The essence

Successfully establishing and running a nonprofit organization in the Chicago-area requires thorough attention to detail and an understanding of state laws and regulations. UpCounsel’s team of experienced attorneys has the expertise to provide comprehensive legal services to help nonprofit founders to fully understand their legal environment, properly set up an entity, and make the most of their financial resources. From one-time consults to full-service legal departments, UpCounsel can provide legal assistance to help ensure the success of nonprofit operations.


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