1. GET A FEDERAL EMPLOYER ID NUMBER
The application is free online from the IRS using Form SS-4.
2. FORM A NONPROFIT CORPORATION
The two-page application is available through the Florida Department of State. The form asks for the names of directors and the nonprofit's purpose, but no other documentation is needed.
Time: About a week
3. GET AN IRS TAX-EXEMPT STATUS
Form 1023 must be completed and submitted to the IRS in order to apply for tax-exempt status. It asks about the charity's organizational structure, planned activities and executive compensation.
Cost: $400 - $850 depending on expected revenue
Time: Typically a few months unless you're flagged by the IRS. The IRS rejects fewer than 1 percent of applications. Charities can raise cash while they wait.
4. REGISTER TO SOLICIT WITH THE STATE
Florida and about 38 other states require nonprofits to have a license to solicit their residents. In Florida, there is a five-page application that has to be renewed annually.
Cost: $10 initial registration
Time: 10 days if the application has all the necessary information
5. RAISE MONEY
Most charities build financial support slowly through money-making programs, community events or sponsorships from corporations and wealthy individuals. But charity operators who hire professional solicitors can generate donations with little work. For a cut of donations, consultants and solicitors will create marketing materials, man phone banks and in some cases pay a charity's start-up costs. What's left after their fees is enough for the charity founder's salary and a modest amount of charitable work.