Life Cycle of a Public Charity - Starting Out
The first stage in the life cycle of any organization is its creation. A nonprofit organization may be created as a corporation, a trust, or an unincorporated association. Any of these entities may qualify for exemption. Note, however, that a partnership generally may not qualify.
To qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(3), an organization must be organized exclusively for purposes described in that section. This means, among other things, that the organization’s organizing documents must contain certain provisions. The IRS provides sample organizing documents that contain the required provisions. Most organizations also adopt bylaws. You should also apply for an employer identification number, even if you do not have employees.