Step 9: Business matters
I figured that it was important to set up a business checking account so that people could write checks to "Camp Kaleidoscope" and not me, Michael Nagle. I figured things would seem less sketchy that way.
To do this, I went to City Hall in Boston and got a "doing business as" license (normally referred to as a dba license.) Basically, this mean that for $40, I (the legal entity Michael Nagle) could do business as Camp Kaleidoscope. The form was a page or two and straightforward -- I think I probably had to bring an ID and it took me 10 minutes to fill out the form and get the license.
I then took that to a bank account (the Cambridge Trust Company) and got a business checking account. Problem solved!
We're now, in our 3rd year, in the process of becoming a non-profit corporation. To do this you have to....
First become a corporation (and in MA, a specific kind of corporation called a non-profit corporation.)
Then file with the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Though I shared the dread everyone does when thinking about filling out Form 1023, the form to file for non-profit status, it really wasn't that bad when I sat down to do it.
Instructions for Form 1023 was an incrediby helpful document. It answers all of the questions that come up when filling out Form 1023, very thoroughly. I found this document invaluable in filing our non-profit status application.
There's also a good document released by the IRS on the distinctions of a public charity vs. a private foundation. You have to decide which one of these you are when applying for non-profit status. I've unfortunately lost track of it, but if I come across it, I'll link to it here.