Two days ago I attended a presentation in White Plains, NY, by lawyers in the Pro Bono Partnership on the "Myths and Realities of Starting a Nonprofit." It was eye opening. You need to file incorporation papers with your state. You need an EIN number from the IRS. Then you need to fill out form 990 with the IRS to apply for tax exempt status. And you need to send regular reports to your state attorney general and the IRS. But that's not all.
These lawyers made it very clear that you need a business plan to start a nonprofit. You need to know how you'll generate income. A nonprofit is a business, but it's a business that simply must plow all its income back into the business, rather than distributing it to share holders. A nonprofit's purpose must be to support the public good in a unique way.
Feel free to contact me with questions. If you need a business plan for your nonprofit, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.