by Eleanor Smith
If you or your organization has a worthwhile need for items you can't afford to purchase, there are often ways to obtain those items for free. By setting up a non-profit organization, you can accept donations of equipment from businesses and individuals who want to help the community while obtaining tax write-offs for outdated equipment.
The structure of non-profit organizations is narrowly defined according by the Internal revenue Service, and the qualifying groups usually divide up into educational, religious, artistic or social service organizations. A non-profit organization exhibits certain characteristics. It is incorporated and set up to achieve public goals. It is exempt from federal taxes under IRS code section 501 (c) (3), and gifts made to organization can be deducted by the donor. It is also at least partially exempt from state, county and city taxes.
Non-profit organizations are not set up for financial gain of individuals or for profit companies. A non-profit organization's purpose focuses on public service rather than profit.. Non-profit organizations provide services beyond those supplied by agencies of the Unites States government, and they occupy a spot somewhere between the private and public sectors.
To set up a non-profit organization, you should write for the Internal Revenue Service guide called "How To Apply For And Retain Tax-Exempt Status For Your Organization, Internal Revenue Service Publication 557. In addition you will want Form 1023 and the instructions for organizations that can qualify under section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code, and Form 1024, which covers other exempt entities.
State and local laws and ordinances may affect your guess for non-profit status. Unless you have previously been through the IRS application process for non-profit status, you will probably require the services of an attorney. If you qualify for non-profit status, you may be able to get the attorney's services pro bono.
In contacting a company, write a single-page cover letter stating briefly how your goals parallel those of the potential donor. Highlight the main points of your project. The cover letter should succinctly tell who will benefit from the project.
Submit your proposal to local companies with the signature of your organization director. The cover letter should show enough spirit to interest the reader.
A vital part of the donation process is apprising the donor institution of the nature of your organization and its management staff. Give the company a look at your recent efforts and achievements.
Many companies are more than happy to respond with contributions of a wide range of items to deserving local organizations - and the contributions can save you a large amount of money!
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