Requirements for Start-Up Applicants
We require that a start-up nonprofit organization do the following before applying for pro bono legal assistance through WAACO:
- Identify a board of at least three committed volunteers who are willing to donate time, money, community connections and/or other resources to the start-up efforts. These volunteers should be unrelated by blood or marriage, and should not anticipate becoming paid staff of the organization in the first year.
- Adopt a mission statement.
- Prepare a three-year budget that shows how the nonprofit will fund start-up costs and sustain ongoing expenses for the first three years.
- Prepare a business plan that:
- Identifies the population to be served.
- Describes the need or problem to be addressed, and how that need was determined.
- Identifies what other organizations are doing the same or similar work in the community, and how the proposed organization differs from those other organizations.
- Describes the program or services that the nonprofit will provide and how it will provide those services (answer “who, what, where, when, why, how”).
- Identifies specific fundraising sources to sustain the organization through its start-up phase.
Application Process for Start-Up Organizations
- Complete the Start-Up Application
- Send Start-Up Application with all required attachments and $100.00 application fee to WAACO, P.O. 2134, Seattle, WA 98111
WAACO Review and Approval Process
Once a completed application and the application fee are received, it is referred to our screening committee who will review the materials and verify eligibility for legal assistance. If your application is approved, you will receive a notice by email.
If your application is approved, WAACO will use its best efforts to place the matter as soon as possible. WAACO cannot guarantee it will find a volunteer or how long it may take for an attorney to volunteer. Eligible start-up organizations will be notified promptly when an attorney has volunteered to assist. WAACO itself will not provide legal representation. Your organization will need to sign an engagement letter with the volunteer attorney outlining the scope of the representation, and will work directly with that volunteer attorney.
Please keep in mind that the process to complete the IRS application for 501(c)(3) status can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete the IRS application with your attorney, and then several more months to receive your IRS notification letter. The IRS fee for filing for 501(c)(3) status is $850.00. The nonprofit organization is responsible for paying for all filing fees. For more information from the IRS, please read this IRS Article
For links to resources that may be useful to organizations in the startup phase, go to our Business Resources for Nonprofits page.