A nonprofit is defined as “an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. Although nonprofit organizations are permitted to generate surplus revenues, they must be retained by the organization for its self-preservation, expansion, or plans.” (more…)
We have written on non-profit corporations before, but as we only dedicated a sliver of a paragraph to how you actually form a non-profit, we felt the topic was worth revisiting. A non-profit corporation is a great way to fulfill a philanthropic pursuit, and if you are looking at dedicating your life to charity, then running a non-profit may be right up your alley. Forming a non-profit corporation is actually very similar to forming a regular corporation.
Step 1. Find a business name
Your non-profit is going to need a name just like with any other standard corporation. That name needs to be unique and, typically, has to include the a designator like ‘Corporation’ or ‘Incorporated,’ though not all states require that.
After you’ve confirmed that your corporate name is available, you have to actually form the corporation by filing what is normally known as your Articles of Incorporation. The forms usually aren’t too complicated, and normally just ask for the names and addresses of the corporation, its registered agent, and its directors, as well as the corporation’s purpose for existing.
When we first started taking a closer look at benefit corporations, we were really building off of the momentum that began with B Lab, the nonprofit that pushes for Benefit Corporation legislation and certifies B Corps. Little did we know, we’d be interviewing Jay Coen Gilbert, one of the three cofounders of B Lab, on our blog! We were so excited, we added a few extra questions in today’s interview where Jay tells us about the benefits forming a B Corp brings to society and the environment, and that for all companies, it’s most important to take the first step and see where you stand.
1. What’s the source of your passion and inspiration that drove you into your leading role in the Benefit Corporation movement?
B Lab’s three cofounders, Bart Houlahan, Andrew Kassoy and I (Jay Coen Gilbert), all share a passion for using market forces to address society’s greatest challenges. We’ve worked in business for most of our careers and hope to harness the amazing talent, passion and resources we’ve seen there to make a better world. Ultimately, we founded B Lab to serve those entrepreneurs who are using business as a force for good.
For Tim Frick and the team at Mightybytes, sustainability means more than trending on a Google search – it’s how they do business. A full-service creative firm for conscious companies in Chicago, Mightybytes provides branding, content strategy, and web based services to its clients along with being a certified B Corporation. They’re passionate about making a social impact with their work to make the world a better place, even if it happens, “just one small pixel at a time.”
1) How did your business get started?
After a brief career in corporate America I started freelancing in 1995, which eventually evolved into what is now Mightybytes. The freelance lifestyle was attractive to me due to the freedom it offered and the DIY philosophy of being an entrepreneur. Quality of life and doing impactful, cause-driven work I can be proud of is at the core of who I am as a person. We imbue those principles into all we do at Mightybytes.
Studious readers of our MyCorp blog may recall that, back in June, we covered non-profit corporations in a ‘Business Basics’ post, and answered a few simple questions like what a non-profit corporation was and how to form one. This week, we felt it would be a good idea to tackle one of the most often asked questions about non-profits – how do you run a successful non-profit corporation? Now, it’s impossible to distill what makes a non-profit successful into a 700 word post, but we can point out a few things you can do to help your non-profit succeed.
Draft, and adhere to, a solid mission statement
When you form a non-profit corporation, you have to clearly identify your mission. What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this organization? Who do you hope to help? What type of a vision do you have? You may have a few fuzzy answers to these questions running through your head, but you have to absolutely solidify every idea and goal you have before you ever hope to begin raising money. If your ‘elevator pitch’ is a jumbled mess of ideals with no, clear, actionable goals, no one will want to donate to your non-profit. The IRS will also review your mission statement when they decide whether or not to grant your group tax-exempt status.
With all this “B Corp” buzz in the air, it’s time to get one thing straight: the Benefit Corporation and the “B Corp” are not created equal. The terms are often used interchangeably, and it’s not necessarily wrong to say “B Corporation” or “B Corp” to informally describe a Benefit Corporation either. People understandably confuse the two, since both similarly aspire to cement a social or environmental purpose in a company’s mission and corporate governance structure.
But there is still a key difference between the pair: the benefit corporation is a legal entity recognized under a state’s corporate laws, while the “B Corporation” (or B Corp) is a certification conferred upon a company by a certifying organization. A company can be a B Corp without being a Benefit Corporation – and vice versa – but it’s important to know that while these two sound similar enough at first glance, they actually function fairly differently from one another.
Entrepreneurs, take note! There’s big news on the B Corporation front – this August, Delaware became the 19th state to enact benefit corporation legislation, a move that signals the new business entity’s staying power.
While it’s true that 18 other states and D.C. are already on board the B Corp train, Delaware has an especially longstanding, notable reputation as a corporate haven, and as an important and influential player in the business community. In other words, people in business pay extra attention to Delaware, and when Delaware passed benefit corporation legislation, it was a very big deal. The state’s legal recognition of benefit corporations will spark more momentum for a movement that aims to sink legal teeth into the notion that companies should mold their missions to benefit society as a whole, instead of primarily focusing on maximizing profits for shareholders.
Guest post today courtesy of Kent E. Seton, founder and president of the Center for Nonprofit Creation.
If you are passionate about your nonprofit charity or business, branding your charity is an invaluable tool that can yield significant economic benefits. Some of the most well known nonprofits in the world, like United Way and the American Red Cross, are charitable entities that are just as well known as brands that do make a profit, like Coca Cola and Nike. How does a nonprofit translate into dollars and cents? Several companies, such as the American Red Cross, have brands so reputable that they license out their trademark to “for profit” enterprises. An example of this licensing in action is a seal of approval – if you go into a grocery store and see a Red Cross logo on a cosmetic item, it has been officially “certified” by the American Red Cross. Each time that product is sold, the American Red Cross earns a royalty. The American Red Cross generates a significant amount of revenue via this model.