How to create a non-profit organization in Washington State

For those interested in creating a non-profit organization, the following list lays out how we did our organization in 2005, which you can use in conjunction with any other information you get from others to figure out your own style.
Pre-1. Everything else rests on this. The name you choose must be researched. It must be an original and not a close copy of another organization’s or business’ name, word, phrase or logo. Do a copyright search and document/keep your findings.
1. Business license – Olympia
2. Decide if you want to be For-Profit or Non-Profit
3. Choose a name and any DBA (doing business as) names
4. Choose what type of corporation you want to be (we are an S-Corporation)
5. Choose how many board members you want (we have 3-9)
6. Decide if you are a doing org. or a mentoring org.
7. How will you get your money to operate and meet your mission?
8. Do you want a membership organization?
9. Choose a simple Purpose (we chose: relief, product, distribution and consultation). The purpose is unchangeable so make it simple and broad.
10. Choose a beginning Mission Statement that fits within the Purpose.
The board can change or refine the Mission Statement within the Purpose parameters.
11. Go online to the Washington Bar Association and choose a format that fits your needs. You will need: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Conflict of Interest Statement.
12. Choose your Incorporating Board (we had 3 people)
13. Have an Incorporating Board meeting and take minutes. Have each member sign the minutes. At the meeting also have all the Incorporators sign the Articles of Incorporation.
NOTE: the Purpose and the Articles of Incorporation are not changeable!!!!!!! If you mess up, you can dissolve the corporation and start over…I had to do that twice😀.
14. Take the completed and signed original and a copy of the original signed Articles of Incorporation to the Washington Secretary of State in Olympia and get it registered. You keep the original and give them the copy. Show them the original but you keep it.
15. While at the Secretary of State (SOS), ask to speak with the Charities Division and get registered with them. This is very important.
16. Get a map from the SOS so you can find your way around Olympia.
17. Go to the Department of Revenue in Olympia. Introduce yourself and your Organization.
Ask if there is anything you need to do at that office.
18. Go to Labor and Industries in Olympia. Ask if there is anything you need to do there.
19. Choose your Initial board members and set up a meeting time.
20. Make a tight agenda and make sure it is followed and everything is recorded correctly during this Initial Board meeting. Make sure to have the Bylaws and Conflict of Interest statement filled in and ready to be presented, edited and approved. If you have a Logo, present it for board approval. From here on out, you are no longer a single person on a mission, you are a body of people making decisions together. For ease of business flow, you might want a Quorum to be 50%. also, you might add a bylaw that board business, including voting, can be done using technology. (We amended our bylaws to be 50% and accepted technology. It is so much easier since we are not in one location. If the Organization has to pay to bring the members together for decision making meetings, it can be very expensive and time consuming which delays meeting your mission.) Also, choose if you want monthly meetings and if so, choose when and where.
Choose a bank or Credit Union at this first meeting. Put some thought into it. You will also choose the first year positions at this meeting: president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. The Secretary and President cannot be the same person. The board needs to agree to go ahead and file for Federal 501(c )(3) status. It’s best to follow parliamentary rules of order or something everyone can agree on in order to keep meetings short and to the point.
21. File for Logo trademark through the Washington Secretary of State office. (This is optional. It is what we did.)
22. Download and fill out all the required paperwork for the Federal 501(c)(3) status.
23. Contact an Accountant to review the paperwork before sending to IRS.
24. Be sure to keep copies of everything. Originals, if possible.
25. As a board, decide on 3-5 Core Values that make up your org. Keep them short.
Example: Every situation will be different – value that community
Example: Honor the next generation

Best wishes,
-Eunice

Disaster resilience tied to neighborhoods’ “social infrastructure”

Check out this excellent article in Wired if you get a chance. Here’s a great excerpt from it:

“Throughout the city, the variable that best explained the pattern of mortality during the Chicago heat wave was what people in my discipline call social infrastructure. Places with active commercial corridors, a variety of public spaces, local institutions, decent sidewalks, and community organizations fared well in the disaster. More socially barren places did not. Turns out neighborhood conditions that isolate people from each other on a good day can, on a really bad day, become lethal.

This is important, because climate change virtually guarantees that, in the next century, major cities all over the world will endure longer, more frequent, and more intense heat waves—along with frankenstorms, hurricanes, blizzards, and rising seas. And it’s inevitable that cities will take steps to fortify themselves against this future. The first instinct of urban leaders is often to harden their cities through engineering and infrastructure, much of which is indeed pretty vital. But research keeps reinforcing the lessons of Englewood and Auburn Gresham.”

-David