Establishing a Non-governmental Organization
last updated August 31, 2003

Researching the domestic legal framework governing the nongovernmental sector is a critical first step in establishing a new NGO. This framework will generally set forth the registration process through which an NGO can become a legal person, detail the circumstances under which the organization or donors may be entitled to tax benefits, and provide requirements with which the NGO must comply to maintain its legal status.


Investigating the legal requirements for registration, however, is only a first step. In addition, an NGO may need a mission statement, a board of directors, governing documents (by-laws), and internal procedures and policies addressing conflicts of interest and financial management. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits's Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence provides a good overview of nonprofit "best practices."

There are number of general nonprofit internet resources that may be valuable to a new NGO. The Internet Nonprofit Center maintains a searchable list of frequently asked questions regarding nonprofit formation organized by topic (e.g., board, conflicts of interest). The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits also publishes a description of the steps involved in forming a nonprofit. Both of these sites are based on U.S. non-profit law but may be useful in helping new organizations in CEE/FSU identify issues that may need to be addressed or questions that should be asked when registering a new NGO.