Consider carefully before you start an NPO to get grants – advice for arts organizations and other creative people

Is it a good idea for an artist to create an NPO to get grant money?

If you’ve been wondering, consider the advice from Corbett Barklie at KCET: Should I Become a Nonprofit?

In addition to the cost and time involved in forming an NPO, the article points out the cost and time to maintain the infrastructure.

You will need to recruit and ‘manage’ a board of directors.

The paperwork may become so burdensome for an artist (or anyone else wanting to create beauty or change the world) that you may want to hire someone to take care of that stuff.

In which case you have to manage another person and comply with a host of employment laws. Then you will have to raise more funds to cover the wages and benefits and another computer and software and a place to work.

Also, consider the lead time.

The article suggests that not only will it take six months to get the exemption letter (I think 12-18 is a better estimate), many foundations expect a charity applicant to have been in operation for three years. I’ve not heard of that expectation, but it does make sense.  Add in time to figure out how to get organized and prepare the large volume of paperwork. There could be a 3 or 4 or 5 year lead time before you could get your first grant.

The article has several suggestions along the lines of moving your creative efforts inside an existing charity.

If you thinks grants might help you in your creative efforts, check out the article for ideas on how to move forward quickly and cheaply.

My previous comments on the idea: Think carefully before you start a new NPO as your platform to change the world

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