Illustration of two people putting a plant into the soil.

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. Dive into the frequently asked questions below.

Top questions

An illustration of a person with raised hands in the background.

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.

Read more

Illustration of a person looking at a board full of notes.

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.

Read more

Illustration of people thinking.

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.

Read more


Illustration of a scale.

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.

Read more

More topics

Illustration of people talking.

Advocacy and lobbying

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

Read more

Illustration of a hand interacting with a touchscreen.

Communications and marketing

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

Read more

Illustration fo a piggy bank with a small bandage.

Financial management

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

Read more

Illustration of gears.

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?

Read more

Illustration of businesspeople standing on top of a large hand.

Human resource issues

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

Read more

Illustration of two hands tugging on a piece of paper.

Legal and ethical issues

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

Read more

Illustration of a computer keyboard.

Resource development

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

Read more

Illustration of a rock climber.

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?

Read more

Other common questions

Ask our experts

If you can't find the answers you need, we're here to help. Please complete this linked form with as many relevant details as possible. An ASU Lodestar Center expert will respond as quickly as possible.

Submit your question


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 so that we might investigate and make changes to our information and links.

All Illustrations by Jocelyn Ruiz.