A critical first step in establishing an NGO is researching the legal requirements that must be met in order to achieve legal recognition and eligibility for certain benefits. This legal framework must be reviewed in order to determine requirements for NGO registration and continuation of existence, as well as to ascertain whether the NGO will be entitled to tax exemptions and other benefits. Both the domestic and, for those countries in the accession process, European legal frameworks may impose requirements and confer benefits on NGOs. Some of the questions that might be asked when researching the legal environment include:
The International Center for Not-For-Profit Law provides a checklist of legal considerations relevant to formation of an NGO, as well as an online database of country laws and reports concerning the nongovermental sector. The United States government has also compiled a database of country reports, laws and codes, searchable by country. The European Foundation Centre's Spring 2003 edition of Newsline provides an overview of current developments on NGO laws and best practices in the European Union.
NGOs may also wish to obtain specialized legal assistance on these issues. A number of NGOs focus exclusively on supporting other NGOs and often offer technical assistance. For example, the Armenian NGO Training and Resource Center helps other NGOs build their organizational capacity. The organization's activities "include training, partnership development, small grants programs, media outreach, electronic communications, technical assistance, information and research, and legal reform/awareness activities." National subsidiaries of the Soros Foundation may also be of assistance.
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