Preparing for Your New Nonprofit Legal Consultation

What to prepare

Listed below is some information that will be helpful to have available during your consultation. None of this information is mandatory for your consultation – we expect you won’t have it all available when we chat, and we expect you will have have questions during your consultation that may affect your answers. Click on any item for some additional context.

The name(s) you plan to use for the nonprofit
  • Your organization must have a legal name that appears on government filings
  • The organization’s legal name must be distinguishable from the names of other entity’s that are listed in the state’s business entity database and which are in good standing
  • The organization’s legal name may be changed by filing a form and paying a small fee to the state government
  • In addition to the organization’s legal name, your organization may operate under one or more other names called trade names
  • Every trade name must be registered with the state
  • Neither trade names nor legal names necessarily create trademark rights or otherwise prevent others from using a name that is similar to your organization’s name
The names of each person who will be a board member of the nonprofit
  • Michigan nonprofit organizations must have at least 3 board members
  • Board members are responsible for overseeing the organization and its officers
  • Board members generally do not have authority themselves but can only act through an affirmative vote of the board
  • Board members may be officers of the nonprofit in addition to serving on the board
The name of each person who will be an officer of the nonprofit
  • Michigan nonprofit rganizations must have a president, a treasurer, and a secretary
  • Nonprofit officers are responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit
  • One person may serve as all three officers, though it is advisable to have at least two individuals serving as officers
  • Officers may use other titles in addition to the titles required by law, e.g. a president may generally be referred to as an executive director or a board chair if desired
The organization's mission or purpose
  • Nonprofits that desire to qualify for tax exemption must have appropriate purposes
  • 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits must have a purpose that furthers a charitable purpose
  • Other types of 501(c) organizations have different requirements
  • Only 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits qualify for tax free donations and most foundation grants
How the organization's activities will advance its mission or purpose
  • The activities of a nonprofit organization must relate to its mission or purpose
  • Unrelated business activities may be permitted provided they are not the organization’s primary activity
How the organization will fund its activities

Possible methods of funding include:

  • Donations
  • Dues
  • Event fees
  • Grants
  • Sales of goods or services
Whether the organization will have any assets when it is initially formed

Initial assets may include things like cash, real estate, equipment, or inventory. Many nonprofits start without assets.

What to expect during your consultation

Your consultation will primarily involve working through a series of questions designed to determine whether a nonprofit organization is the right choice for your plans and, if so, whether we can offer assistance in starting the organization. We will also begin to collect some of the basic information we will need to form your nonprofit if you decide to work with us.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide legal advice during your consultation. To the extent you have questions that can be answered without providing legal advice, we are generally happy to do so to the extent time permits.

And after your consultation

If we are able to offer our assistance and you are interested in moving forward, we will provide our advice and recommendation accompanied by a quote for any offered services and a list of next steps.

Please note that a small fee of $20.00 is required to access the recommendation, which will generally contain legal advice. If you move forward with our services, this fee will be applied towards the invoice for those services.