• Emily

Build for Bees: Becoming a Nonprofit Organization

In a few weeks, I’ll be starting my freshman year of college. Rather than slowing this project down, I intend to keep growing it. By the end of college, in 2024, I hope to have officially turned Build for Bees into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. I’m writing this post so you can come along for the journey.

I understand that this process will take a lot of time and money, and I can’t predict how much I’ll have over these next four years. So, becoming a nonprofit by the end of college is a goal, not a promise.

To make this happen, I need to meet the legal requirements to become a nonprofit and reach some personal goals I’ve set to improve Build for Bees.

Let’s start with the legal stuff:

  1. Earn My Nonprofit Leadership Certification

This step isn’t technically legally required, but I think it’s important. A Nonprofit Leadership Certification certifies that you’re capable of leading a nonprofit organization. I was recently accepted into a special fellowship program at my college that will help me earn this.

Here’s what I have to do:

  • Take the Introduction to Nonprofit Management course

  • Take the Principles of (business) Management course

  • Complete 300 internship hours at a nonprofit organization

  • Attend the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Institute

To practice fundraising skills, I’ll have to raise the money to attend.

  • Fulfill Competencies

Complete all the requirements listed above

Complete the school’s core curriculum

Complete the requirements of my majors

Complete additional workshops and seminars

  • Complete 180 contact hours addressing American Humanics competencies

Register My Nonprofit Name

I have the paperwork completed for this, but I can’t submit it until I’m 18. Basically, I’ll be claiming my nonprofit’s name, and requesting permission to operate in my state. This will cost about $20.

Create a Mission Statement

A mission statement is composed of a few sentences that sum-up what a nonprofit seeks to accomplish.

Appoint a Board of Directors

A board of directors is the group that helps make big decisions for a nonprofit. For example, the board creates a nonprofit’s bylaws, manages finances and plans events.

I anticipate appointing a board of directors to be one of the biggest challenges I’ll face. The tricky thing is, I’m not allowed to compensate the members of my board. So, I have to track down people in my state who are so dedicated to helping the bees that they’re willing to work without pay (If this sounds like a position you’d be interested in, feel free to reach out to me. I imagine I won’t start looking for board members until the beginning of next year, but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead).

Create Bylaws

As I said in the last section, this will be done with my board of directors. Bylaws are a set of agreements between a nonprofit and its leaders that state how the organization will run. It includes the goals of the organization and where assets will go if the organization dissolves, among other things.

File My Articles of Incorporation

This is another task I anticipate will be very challenging. This will require filling out oodles of pages of complicated paperwork. It costs about $120 in my state, and it’s advisable to get a lawyer to help. So, I’m going to need to do some serious fundraising before I get to this step.

Get an Employee Identification Number

An EIN is a number assigned by the government. The name is pretty self-explanatory. Even if a nonprofit doesn’t have employees, it’s legally required. Luckily, getting an EIN is free and only takes about 15 minutes.

Apply for Tax Exemption with the IRS

This will require 28 pages of paperwork and lots of money. It costs about $600 to apply, and it’s smart to have a lawyer help because you can’t afford to mess up. So, I’ll have to do some fundraising before this step, too.

After that, though, I’m done! Build for Bees will officially be a nonprofit. That said, I’ll have to fill out a considerable amount of paperwork each year to stay in compliance with the government.

Now that I’ve talked about all the legal stuff, let’s move into the personal improvement goals I’ve set for Build for Bees. I’m setting these goals because I want Build for Bees’ significance to match up with the fancy paperwork.

To be scalable, I’ll only be planning one year in advance. If I don’t reach these goals in a year, that’s okay; my education comes first.

That said, here are five things I hope to accomplish:

Create a Mason Bee House Workshop Guide

This guide will enable anyone to host a mason bee house workshop of their own. It’ll include all the things I use to host my workshops, along with tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Record a Video Mason Bee House Workshop

People hosting their own workshops can use this video if they aren’t comfortable talking in front of a crowd. It’ll also be a handy resource I can share on my website.

Write a Blog Post Answering FAQ’s

At workshops and events, I tend to get the same questions about bees (Not always, though. One time, a kindergartner asked me, "Do bees even put honey on pizza?" Can't say that's one I hear often). I’d like to compile them and answer them in a blog post. I’m also considering answering them in a video.

Follow My Editorial Calendar

I have many more ideas for future content, but I don’t want to spoil any surprises. I’ll show you this year’s editorial calendar at the end of the year, and we’ll see how much I made happen. If this post is up on August 3, everything’s going according to plan (I’m writing this on June 17, and August 3 is the day this is scheduled to go live).

Keep Having Fun

It sounds silly, but it’s important. Right now, I dedicate over 40 hours a week to this project, and I love it. I don’t want to get to a point where it isn’t that way. So, if I ever need to take breaks or slow down, I will.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article. No matter where this project ends up, I’ll always do my best to be this transparent. Here’s to another year of building for bees!