Starting a Charitable Organization in Nashville, Tennessee: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you looking start a charitable organization in Nashville? Learn how with this step-by-step guide from an expert in the non-profit sector.

Starting a Charitable Organization in Nashville, Tennessee: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you looking to make a positive impact in the Nashville community? Starting a new charitable organization in Nashville, Tennessee is a great way to give back and support causes that are important to you. However, the process of starting a new charitable organization can seem overwhelming and daunting. As an expert in the non-profit sector, I am here to guide you through the steps of starting a new charitable organization in Nashville. The first step in starting a new charitable organization is to identify your cause. What issue or cause are you passionate about? What do you want to achieve through your organization? It is important to have a clear and specific mission for your organization.

This will not only help guide your actions and decisions, but it will also attract like-minded individuals who share your passion. When choosing your cause, it is also important to research and understand the needs of the Nashville community. This will help you determine if there is a gap that your organization can fill and if there is a demand for your services.

Step 2: Choose a Legal Structure

Once you have identified your cause, the next step is to choose a legal structure for your organization. In Nashville, there are several options for charitable organizations, including non-profit corporations, trusts, and unincorporated associations. Each structure has its own benefits and requirements, so it is important to research and consult with legal professionals to determine which structure is best for your organization. If you choose to form a non-profit corporation, you will need to file articles of incorporation with the Tennessee Secretary of State.

This document outlines the purpose of your organization, its name, and other important information. You will also need to obtain a federal tax ID number and apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Step 3: Develop a Business Plan

Just like any other business, a charitable organization needs a solid business plan to be successful. Your business plan should include your mission statement, goals, target audience, marketing strategies, and financial projections. This will not only help you stay organized and focused, but it will also be necessary when seeking funding and grants. It is important to note that starting a new charitable organization can be costly, so it is crucial to have a realistic budget in place.

You may also want to consider partnering with other organizations or seeking out volunteers to help reduce costs.

Step 4: Register with the State of Tennessee

In addition to filing articles of incorporation, you will also need to register your organization with the State of Tennessee. This includes obtaining a business license and registering for state taxes. You may also need to register with the Tennessee Department of Revenue if your organization will be selling goods or services.

Step 5: Build Your Team

A successful charitable organization cannot be run by one person alone. It is important to build a strong team of individuals who share your passion and can help bring your vision to life.

This may include board members, volunteers, and staff members. When recruiting board members, it is important to choose individuals who have diverse skills and experiences that can benefit your organization. They should also be committed and dedicated to your cause.

Step 6: Promote Your Organization

Now that your organization is up and running, it is time to promote it and raise awareness in the Nashville community. This can be done through various marketing strategies, such as social media, events, and partnerships with other organizations. It is important to have a strong online presence and to regularly engage with your audience to keep them informed and involved. You may also want to consider hosting fundraising events to generate revenue for your organization.

This can include galas, auctions, or charity walks. Be creative and think outside the box to attract donors and supporters.

Step 7: Stay Compliant

As a charitable organization, it is important to stay compliant with all state and federal laws. This includes filing annual reports, maintaining accurate financial records, and adhering to tax laws. Failure to comply can result in penalties and even the revocation of your tax-exempt status. It is also important to regularly review and update your bylaws and policies to ensure they are in line with current laws and regulations.


Starting a new charitable organization in Nashville, Tennessee may seem like an intimidating task but with the right planning and resources it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Remember that staying true to your mission statement while building an effective team of volunteers or staff members is essential for success as well as staying compliant with all state and federal laws. By following these steps you can make an impactful difference in the Nashville community while achieving all of your goals for your organization.

Todd Ludvigson
Todd Ludvigson

Friendly zombie nerd. Unapologetic food specialist. Professional twitter specialist. Freelance beer enthusiast. Hardcore travel maven. Total introvert.

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