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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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?

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Illustrations by Jocelyn Ruiz.