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How to start a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rescue

I had a nice talk with a lady I met who volunteers at a non-profit animal sanctuary and wants to start her own non-profit. She asked me if I knew how to get started and what she should do – I couldn’t really help her. At home, the subject has not let me go… so I started researching.

I would suggest for everyone to volunteer or work at an animal welfare organization before considering starting your own non-profit rescue. This way you’ll get the best insight to operating an organization, and you have the chance to network and talk to the founder. If you don’t have the opportunity of volunteering and still want to get involved in animal welfare, you should first decide if you are a person who can run a business, which involves organizing and lead people.

While I was researching information and talking to some of my rescue friends I found many resources and websites with helpful guidelines. Petfinder’s website has some very valuable and important facts, but didn’t answer all of my questions. Today, I just want to focus on giving you a quick overview of what you need to start your new business as a non-profit so you’ll see the free resources I found posted below.

What does non-profit mean? Nonprofit organization (abbreviated as NPO) is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than to distribute them as profit or dividends. The purpose of serving a public or mutual benefit other than the pursuit or accumulation of profits for owners or investors.

What’s the idea, the purpose and the mission of your non-profit? Do you wan to save animals from high-kill shelters? Do you want to form a rescue organization and operate as a shelter or do you want to just get together with some friends? Determine the goals of your organization, including the number and types of animals you will serve and whether you will accept all animals or only those you deem to be the most adoptable. You can specify in rescuing just small breeds, medium size or large sized breeds or a specific breed, like German Shepherd Rescue or Pit Bull rescue. Its important to have an exact idea and a plan, and to envision where you want to go and what your goal is with creating this non-profit. It’s very important to write an effective mission statement. You’ll need it often in the future!

Why don't you start your own French Bulldog Rescue?

You need a name for your organization and you should also pick a state where you would like to form your organization. There are two forms: unincorporated association and the nonprofit corporation. On management help’s website I have found a great source of information you should definitely read here. All organizations, regardless of their form, generally must register with their local government authority to obtain a license to engage in business in that locality. Now, you have to draft and file an IRS tax exemption application.

I found some websites that would help or even would go through the whole process for you. These are paid services. If you want to do it yourself, there are different IRS forms and types of nonprofits. Make sure to apply with the right form. You may qualify for exemption from state sales and use taxes and local property tax and business license and registration fees. To obtain exemption, organizations must apply with the appropriate state and local government offices.

There are things you should definitely know and be aware of before forming a new non-profit. Please see the links and get informed – good luck in making an impact on animal’s lives!


Great information –

Non-profit law articles – –

Petfinder –


3 replies on “How to start a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rescue”

My colleagues were searching for SSA-1372-BK this month and were told about a business with 6 million forms . If others are requiring SSA-1372-BK too , here’s

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