For information and resources see our COVID-19 Support Page. If your small business or nonprofit needs COVID-19 related legal or capacity building help, contact us.

Start-Up Application

Startup Application Temporarily Closed

2/1/2021: Due to our increased volume of support for community organizations and small businesses in their process of accessing PPP loans during COVID-19, we are not taking startup applications at this time.

If you need assistance relating to COVID-19, please check out the COVID-19 Resources or contact us at contact@communities-rise.org.

For links to resources that may be useful to organizations in the start-up phase, go to our Nonprofit and CBO Resources page for a variety of toolkits, templates and FAQs.

Thank you for your interest in applying for Communities Rise’s direct services for your nonprofit organization! We’re here to help you begin the process towards creating your nonprofit corporation and obtaining 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 tax-exempt status.

If you have not already, please check out the How to Apply for Legal Services page for an overview of the process and to ensure eligibility. This page is specific to organizations looking for assistance with creating a new nonprofit or getting 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status. Please keep in mind our legal services are for organizations who wish to register in Washington state.

Required Documents

For your startup organization to be ready for our legal services, we request not only our application but the materials listed below which are necessary for applying for 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status. Without these items your application will be considered incomplete and screening for eligibility will not be possible. Please gather the following in DOC or PDF format before starting the online application process. Filing for 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status with the IRS is costly and time intensive, and we want your organization to be prepared to be placed with a volunteer attorney.

  • A list of board of directors. The board should include at least three committed volunteers who are willing to donate time, money, community connections and/or other resources to the startup efforts. These volunteers should be unrelated by blood or marriage and should not anticipate becoming paid staff of the organization in the first year.
  • A three-year budget. A budget is important to know how much money it will cost to start-up and run your nonprofit. Prepare a three-year budget that clearly shows how the nonprofit will fund startup costs and sustain ongoing expenses for the first three years. Note that the IRS requires a three year budget to apply for 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 tax-exemption. Please see a budget template here.
  • A business plan. The business plan does not have to be prepared in any specific way, but it should be thorough and needs to include the following information:
    • Your nonprofit’s mission statement.
    • Identifies the population to be served.
    • Describes the need or problem to be addressed, and how that need was determined.
    • Identifies what other organizations are doing the same or similar work in the community, and how the proposed organization differs from those other organizations.
    • Articulates clearly the program or services that the nonprofit will provide and how it will provide those services (answer “who, what, where, when, why, how”).
    • Identifies specific fundraising sources to sustain the organization through its startup phase. Please see resources for business plans.

If your organization is already incorporated in Washington State…

Organizations already incorporated in Washington State must also provide:

  1. Articles of Incorporation & Certificate of Incorporation from the Secretary of State
  2. Bylaws
  3. Copies of legal documents related to your particular request for legal assistance (e.g., leases, contracts, correspondence, tax notices, employment handbooks, etc)

Application Fee

A $100 non-refundable screening fee is required to submit your application. You can use a credit/debit card with our online application (currently only available for startup organizations) or contact us to request an invoice to pay online. We also accept checks via post mail made out to “Communities Rise”. Keep in mind there is a 3% service fee for online payments.

Start Your Application

Apply Online

Before starting the application, we highly recommend having your required documents ready (described above). You may wish to download and review a copy of the application ahead of time to prepare for completing the online application.

Apply by Email or Mail

Email: For fastest processing, please scan and send materials by email to contact@communities-rise.org.

Mail: If you cannot fill out the online form or send a scanned application, you can mail the completed Start-Up Application with all required materials. Please note: due to the pandemic we are working remotely and are not available to receive materials in person or via certified mail.

Email and mail: You may email your application and mail us the $100.00 non-refundable application fee. We accept checks made out to “Communities Rise” at:

Communities Rise
3642 33rd Avenue S.
Suite C4
Seattle, WA. 98144

What Happens Next?
Review and Approval Process

Once a completed application and the application fee are received, our screening committee will review the materials and verify eligibility for legal assistance. If your application is approved, you will receive a notice by email.

While we do everything possible to connect eligible organizations with volunteer attorneys, the placement process can take some time. Communities Rise cannot guarantee that we will find a volunteer attorney or how long it may take for an attorney to volunteer.

Please keep in mind that the process to complete the IRS application for 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 status can take anywhere from 2-4 months to complete with your attorney, and then several more months to receive your IRS notification letter. The IRS fee for filing for tax exempt status is $275.00 for Form 1023-EZ and $600 for Form 1023. Communities Rise does not assist with filing fees and the applying nonprofit organization is responsible for paying any and all filing fees. See IRS FAQ About Applying for Tax-Exemption.

For links to resources that may be useful to organizations in the start-up phase, go to our Nonprofit and CBO Resources page.