Talk:How to Start a Free Geek
And away we go...
Please read all of the documentation. There's a good general overview at Free Geek Startups, including instructions for joining or searching the mailing list. Then fill out the Free Geek Startup Franchise Application and send it in. Applications will be reviewed and those that are approved can start the second step.
Fill out the Final Application for Ongoing Status as a Free Geek Franchise. Approved applicants will be able to use the name "Free Geek" in their organization's name.
Becoming a 501(c)(3) Organization
- Create an organization name and mission statement. See Free Geek Principles for rules on the use the the name Free Geek. Free Geeks Mission Statement reads:
"FREE GEEK is a non-profit organization that recycles used technology and provides computers, education, job skills training and access to the internet to those in need in exchange for community service".
- Register as a non-profit corporation in your State (There should be a form for Articles of Incorporation that you can download from your Secretary of States website). This costs $25 in Oregon, your state should be similar.
- Form a board of directors, each state has different rules as to the minimum required. Oregon is two (President and Secretary). The board of directors is the legally and fiscally responsible body. Treat this step seriously; future funders will want to be confident that your organization has good board oversight. Here is a copy of the Free Geek Bylaws. Please feel free to adapt it for your use. The first action of the new board is to adopt the Bylaws. You are now officially on your way.
- File for 501(c)(3)tax exempt status with the IRS using form 1023. It costs around $250 for small non-profits. This can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year. Helpful hint: If you can find an attorney to either serve on your board or offer pro bono legal services, they can really help move the process along. Having your information sent to the IRS under official letterhead from your "attorney" really helps with the legitimacy of your application attempt. Check out the Internet Nonprofit Center , a huge resource of information. When you get approved by the IRS, your "official" starting date for your non-profit back dates to the date of Incorporation or the beginning of the calendar year with ever comes last.
What to do while waiting for the IRS to approve you:
There is a legal instrument that is called Fiscal Sponsorship, that allows other non-profits in your state to put your new organization under their umbrella of tax-exempt status. This allows you to provide tax reciepts prior to obtaining tax-exempt status yourself. This is not a great option, as it is very complicated for you and the covering organization and if done incorrectly, can put your 501(c)(3) application and the tax-exempt status of the sponsoring organization at risk.