Several weeks ago I wrote about the frustrating experience I had trying to open a post office box for the Abortion Access Network of Arizona. Well, I’m proud to report that AANA has gotten its feet off of the ground, and we are ready to take names and kick some ass. We’ve had a few snafus since we started in June, but we’ve also learned several practical lessons along the way. Here are a few tips in case you’re trying to start an abortion fund/nonprofit yourself.
There is one overall tip for all of these steps – and that is to pick a consistent physical address for your abortion fund. You will need it for your articles of incorporation, business license application, PO Box, bank account, and many other things that I’m probably forgetting. None of us wants the possibility of antis showing up on our doorstep for a home protest – but the reality is that if the antis are determined to show up your house, they’re going to do it anyway. So pick a physical address that you can use, and then use the same address on all your paperwork.
1. Establish your contact information. You will need a phone number and an e-mail account for all of the paperwork you are about to file. You can get a free phone number through Google Voice that will forward voicemail to your e-mail address. It’s pretty snazzy.
2. Get your EIN. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is something you get for free from the IRS. You will need it to open a bank account, file for a business license, open a post office box . . . basically, everything you need to be a legit organization.
3. Open a PO Box. You will need a government-issued photo ID, a non-photo ID (such as voter registration card), and proof of your physical address (like a phone bill, etc.). Bring everything with you when you apply for your box, and double check the USPS website before you go to the post office to make sure that they have boxes available. Their fees will also be listed on the website.
4. File for a business license before you open a bank account. You can’t open a business account without a business license. Each state has its own paperwork process and filing fee, but if you go to your state’s Secretary of State website, you should be able to get the scoop on what is required – but you will most likely need to have bylaws and articles of incorporation. Even if your license hasn’t been granted yet, you can take a copy of the stamp they put on your application with you to the bank.
5. Bring all your paperwork with you to the bank. This includes your EIN letter from the IRS, proof that you have filed for a business license in your state, and articles of incorporation. Don’t forget to write down your phone number, PO Box, etc. so that you have that information when you open the bank account.
Those are the nuts and bolts of getting your abortion fund established. The National Network of Abortion Funds has lots of other resources to help you with fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and event planning. But these tips were all learned through my own experience and mistakes. I hope they help you avoid some of AANA’s pitfalls.
If you’ve got additional tips for getting a nonprofit started, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.