How To Apply for official nonprofit status
BY S. KIRK WALSH, FOUNDER OF THE AUSTIN BAT CAVE
Initially our application for nonprofit status happened quite easily. I worked with the Executive Director (ED) to fill out the necessary paperwork and things moved along quite smoothly. During this time, we had sponsorship from Women & Their Work, an arts organization here in Austin. That said, this relationship was not entirely beneficial because Women & Their Work often wouldn’t let us apply for several grants because it competed with their support. So, my advice: Find an effective partnering organization—while you wait for your official status—so you can begin the grant process sooner rather than later.
Then, we lost our nonprofit status due to a clerical error (one digit was off in our number when filing a 990). This speaks to my other point: It’s vital to have a bookkeeper (a CPA) and a Treasurer to ensure that all of the forms are being filled out, and to keep track of any correspondence from the IRS. We were able to apply for nonprofit status (with a DBA name), but it was very stressful. You need to have at least one professional helping the ED ensure that all of this critical administrative work is being taken care of. It’s not the fun part of leading nonprofit, but there is no nonprofit without this work being done.