Making a Difference

Attorney Audrey Chisholm’s nonprofit gets high school juniors and seniors in gear for college and community action

How She Did It

  • Get registered as a 501(3)(c). “Make sure you’re legally compliant,” says Chisholm. “A lot of people don’t realize how that one credential allows you to compete with the best organizations in the nation. It shows that you are legitimate and meet IRS standards.” You can start by visiting and downloading Form 1023. Chisholm recommends finding an attorney who will work pro-bono to make sure you fill out the fundraising and solicitation licenses and proper addendums to prevent being denied. It can take several months just for the IRS to review your form, so you want to make sure you get it right the first time, she says. Filing fees start at $400.
  • Recruit a good team. Find others who believe in your vision and can provide valuable services. Chisholm says that her volunteers offer professional services valued at more than $100,000 a year. “We have graphic designers, Web designers, photographers, and folks with all types of professional and financial skills that donate their professional service to help us accomplish our goals,” she says. Step outside of your circle and share your story with anyone you know to create a diverse team. Do your due diligence by creating a volunteer entry inquiry form, interview applicants, and run a background check, especially if you’re working with youth.

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