Managing a Spiritualist Center

How to Start a 501C3 Nonprofit Ministry (USA)
By:Steve DeVane

Starting a nonprofit ministry should not be done halfheartedly. Launching any organization takes a great deal of work, and getting a nonprofit group going can be even more challenging. Those who undertake such an effort should be committed to spending long hours and difficult days to get the ministry up and running. You'll have to determine the ministry's mission, gain support, file paperwork, organize the effort and start the operation.

Think about the type of ministry you want to start. Determine whether there is a need for it and how best that need can be met. Consider whether you can use your gifts, talents and abilities to meet that need. Take into account the many tasks that will need to be done before such a ministry is operating in a way that will meet that need.

Find support for the ministry. See if there is already a ministry meeting the need. If so, consider a partnership or collaboration. Determine if there are religious groups that might offer support. Keep in mind that you'll need financial backing, but you'll also need prayer, encouragement and other forms of assistance. Begin building a network of people and organizations that will help sustain the ministry.

Your business plan should include details about funding.

Start organizing the ministry. You might not want to think of it as a business, but it will help you keep things in order if the ministry operates under an organizational framework. Consider forming a Board of Directors to oversee the organization. Write a business plan showing how the ministry will run over the next two to three years. This should be a detailed document including how you plan to raise funds and how they will be spent.

File the necessary paperwork for nonprofit and tax exempt status. This will require applications at the state and federal level. Nonprofit organizations recognized by states do not immediately qualify for exemption from federal taxes. Tax-exempt status requires applications for an Employer Identification Number and for recognition of exemption. The IRS might ask for more financial and organization information before it grants what is known as 501(c)(3) status, which gets its name from the tax law provision that grants exemption to nonprofit groups.

Launch the ministry. You want to call as much attention to the organization as possible. The more people know about how the ministry meets needs the more likely people will be to contribute to it. Try to generate as much momentum as you can. The early days of the ministry might very well determine whether it thrives or fails. A great start could lead to a healthy ministry for years to come.