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How to Start A Not-for-Profit Organisation

So, you’re passionate about making a difference and considering starting a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation? Fantastic! You’re about to embark on a journey that can truly change lives and communities. But where do you start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to kickstart your NFP venture, from understanding legal structures to navigating tax obligations. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Not-for-Profit organisations

First things first, let’s clarify what exactly an NFP organisation is. Simply put, it’s an entity that operates for a purpose other than making a profit for its owners or members. NFP organisations can fall into two broad categories: charities and other NFP organisations that are not charities. Charities must register with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), while other NFP organisations may need to self-assess their tax status.

Key Steps to Starting Your Not-for-Profit Journey

After understanding the not-for-profit organisation, it’s time to learn how to start a Not-for-Profit (NFP) organisation. Check the steps below.

Choosing the Right Legal Structure

First and foremost, clearly define the purpose of your NFP. What cause or issue are you passionate about addressing? Who will benefit from your organization’s activities? Having a clear sense of purpose will guide all your subsequent decisions and actions.

There are several options to consider, including


Incorporating as a Company: This option provides limited liability for members and creates a separate legal entity. However, it comes with specific governance and reporting requirements, such as having a board of directors and lodging audited financial statements.


Registering as an Incorporated Association: If you prefer a simpler and more affordable option, registering as an incorporated association might be the way to go. This structure is suitable for small community organisations and comes with fewer regulatory obligations compared to a company.

Creating a Registrable Australian Body: If you plan to operate across multiple states or territories, creating a registrable Australian body allows you to do so while maintaining legal recognition.

Navigating Legal Requirements

Once you’ve chosen a legal structure, it’s time to navigate the legal requirements. This includes:

  • Registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN), tax file number (TFN), and potentially a business name.
  • Applying for charity registration and tax concessions if applicable.
  • Understanding reporting and compliance obligations based on your chosen legal structure.

Follow the requirements outlined below when registering as a company or incorporated association:

Registering as a Company: If you opt to register as a company, your NFP will become a separate legal entity, providing limited liability protection to its members. This structure requires adherence to certain corporate governance standards, including appointing directors and auditors, holding annual general meetings, and maintaining proper financial records.

Registering as an Incorporated Association: Alternatively, you may choose to register as an incorporated association under state or territory legislation. This structure is often simpler and more affordable, making it ideal for smaller community organizations. Incorporated associations must comply with specific requirements outlined in the relevant legislation, such as holding annual meetings and maintaining proper accounting records.

Seeking Professional Advice

While you may have a clear vision for your NFP, seeking professional advice is invaluable. Consider consulting with a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor who specializes in NFP organisations. They can provide tailored guidance to ensure you’re meeting all legal and regulatory requirements. 

If you need help starting your not-for-profit, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Number Solutions. Our team of professionals is well-versed in the intricacies of NFP organisations and can offer personalized assistance to set you on the right path. Call us at +61291745327 to schedule a consultation and get started on your NFP journey today.

How to start a Not for Profit organisation

Staying Compliant and Evolving

Once your NFP is up and running, the journey doesn’t end there. It’s essential to stay compliant with ongoing reporting and regulatory obligations. Additionally, don’t hesitate to evolve and adapt your organisation to better serve its mission and stakeholders. Remember, change is often necessary for growth and impact.

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In conclusion, starting a not-for-profit organisation is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. By understanding legal structures, navigating legal requirements, seeking professional advice, and staying compliant and adaptable, you can set your NFP up for success. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s make a difference together!

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