Ask the Nonprofit Specialists

Do you have questions about starting, governing, managing or operating a nonprofit organization?

Ask the Nonprofit Specialists is a growing repository of information compiled by the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, based on common questions the Center receives about starting and running a nonprofit organization. Start with our top questions and then dive into the many topics below.

Top questions

Should I start a nonprofit?

Should I form a nonprofit?

You see a need in your community, and you're ready to take action. Is forming a nonprofit organization the right choice for you? Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of starting a nonprofit to advance your mission.

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How to start a nonprofit

How do I start a nonprofit?

If you've decided to start a nonprofit organization, these five key steps will help you launch your nonprofit. You will begin with a thoroughly researched business plan with market analysis to find your footing and make an impact.

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Pondering

What are tax-exempt organizations?

A tax-exempt organization is one which has been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service to not be liable for federal income tax. But tax-exempt status is not synonymous with nonprofit.

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Tax collection

Do Arizona nonprofits pay and/or collect sales tax?

Here are some examples of common situations and whether or not organizations are exempt from taxes on purchases and sales.

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More topics

Advocacy and lobbying

Can nonprofits participate in advocacy and lobbying? What about political activity? And how are all of these terms defined?

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Technology

Communications and marketing

What role does marketing and communication play in the nonprofit sector? How is marketing different than public relations?

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Finances

Financial management

Are there key ratios or "standards" for tracking finances for nonprofits? How public should the finances of a nonprofit be?

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Performance

Governance and boardsmanship

What is the best size for a nonprofit board of directors? Should it have committees? How often should a nonprofit board meet?

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Humans

Human resource issues

Do we need an HR director? Do we need personnel policies? How do we determine compensation and benefits for employees?

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Issues

Legal and ethical issues

How do I find what our legal requirements are? What are the ethical issues relative to fundraising or resource development?

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Fundraising

Resource development

How do we start generating funds for our nonprofit organization? What are the sources of funding for nonprofit organizations?

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Risk

Risk management

How do I know what kind of insurances our nonprofit should carry? Do we really need to have insurance? Can boards of directors be sued?

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Other common questions

Should we hire a consultant?

What does the chair of a nonprofit board do?

What are the responsibilities of a nonprofit's chief executive officer?

We have lost our tax-exempt status. What do we do?

What is the 990?

Where is our tax-exempt application in the process?


The information provided and contained at this site is not a substitute for professional legal counsel. Readers should consult legal counsel before taking any steps that may have legal consequences. Links to information are provided as a courtesy. They are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement of the linked materials.

Please note that websites frequently change, and while we endeavor to keep links current, some might not work. When you encounter such a problem, you can help us by sending an email to nonprofit@asu.edu so that we might investigate and make changes to our information and links.

Illustrations by Jocelyn Ruiz.

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