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Nonprofits of Greenbelt, and How to Start a New One

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Did you know that there are 197 tax-deductible nonprofit organizations in Greenbelt’s 20770 zip code? That’s according to this site. Or there are 133 of them, according to this listing, which is easier to browse and provides financial information for each one.

Browsing the lists, I wasn’t surprised to find these well-known nonprofits: American Legion, ERHS Athletic Booster Club, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre, New Deal Cafe, Museum, Community Foundation, Access TV, Farmers Market, Credit Union, Municipal Swim Team, Nursery School, Boys Club, Pride, Soccer Alliance, Fire and Rescue Squad, Lions, Knights of Columbus, alight, Miss Greenbelt Scholarship Organization, Golden Age Club, Toastmasters, PTA groups and many churches.

But boy, Greenbelters must dance more than I’d imagined because there’s also the 49th Square Dance Convention, the National Square Dance Convention, Community Dance Group, and the Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association. Notice something in this list? They’re regional and even national organizations.

Also in that vein, there are national employee groups like the National Association of Black Accountants, Active and Retired Federal Workers, National Dental  Association, and several dispute resolution organizations. Also, who knew there’s a Dangerous Goods Advisory Council or the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, and they’re Greenbelt-based.

Even more curious is the Greenbelt address for regional organizations about other parts of our region, like the Bethesda Cultural Alliance, the Mt. Rainier Sports Club and the Rock Creek Kennel Club.

Also surprising but nice to see are the Pollen Bee Foundation and Real Men Care (love the name!).

Easier than Ever to Start a Small, Tax-Deductible Nonprofit

I searched nonprofits by zip code early this year in hopes of finding out if one that I created had been granted 501(c)(3) status, since the IRS hadn’t informed me one way or the other, and was thrilled to find Good Gardening Videos listed in both places. (It’s an educational project for finding and promoting gardening videos that are science-based and technically, at least watchable.)

Also thrilling had been discovering how easy it is these days to create a small nonprofit.

First, I filed online with the State of Maryland to register my new nonprofit corporation, which costs about $220. Within hours I heard back that it was accepted, with the necessary paperwork to prove it. (The process isn’t nearly as complicated as this info would have you believe; you don’t need a board of directors, a slate of officers, or a schedule of meetings. As confirmed here, only one name is necessary.)

The next step is even easier – filing for an Employee Identification Number (whether employees will actually be hired doesn’t matter).

With those steps completed, I explored the famously daunting task of applying for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, a process that heretofore required a lawyer and lots of work, and probably still does for mid- to large-size nonprofits.

But don’t believe what you read online about the process because most sources don’t reflect a big change that occurred for small nonprofits in 2014, announced in this IRS press release:

Form 1023-EZ, available today on IRS.gov, is three pages long, compared with the standard 26-page Form 1023. Most small organizations, including as many as 70 percent of all applicants, qualify to use the new streamlined form. Most organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less are eligible.

Previously, all of these groups went through the same lengthy application process — regardless of size…It didn’t matter if you were a small soccer or gardening club or a major research organization. This process created needlessly long delays for groups, which didn’t help the groups, the taxpaying public or the IRS.

The Form 1023-EZ must be filed using pay.gov, and a $400 user fee is due at the time the form is submitted.

The change was apparently prompted by the IRS’s backlog of over 60,000 applications.

Here, too, having officers and a board of directors isn’t necessary – just one name will do the job – and the application can be done online in just a few minutes. No need to attach articles of incorporation, or even write them.

My first yearly e-filing (Form 990-N) with the IRS in April was even faster and easier, taking literally five minutes online to confirm that nothing significant had changed (same contact person, same gross receipts of roughly $50,000/year or less). They don’t care how small nonprofits are spending their money.  Maryland-based nonprofits must file a Personal Property Form every April 15.

So to Greenbelters with dreams of doing good on a small budget, I say, “Go forth and create that nonprofit!”

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct Good Gardening Videos.org, a nonprofit, ad-free educational campaign.

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