Start-Up Application

A reminder that Wayfind has merged with the Nonprofit Assistance Center and we are now Communities Rise. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to update all of our materials. Please reach out if you have any questions about the merger at

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

Before You Apply: Required Documents

Your startup organization must provide materials necessary for applying for 501(c)3 status. Please gather the following in DOC or PDF format before starting the online application process.

Without these items your application will be considered incomplete. Filing for 501(c)3 status with the IRS is costly and time intensive, and we want your organization to be prepared to be placed with a volunteer attorney and be set up for success.

  • 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 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 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 screening fee is required to submit your application. You can use a credit/debit card with the online application, call us with your credit/debit card, or mail us a check.

[NEW!] Online Application

Begin Online Start-Up Application

Before starting the application, you must have your required documents ready (described above). We also recommend you download and review the printed application ahead of time to prepare for completing the online application.

To Print & Mail Your Application or Send by Email

Complete the Start-Up Application. Send completed Start-Up Application with all required materials and $100.00 non-refundable application fee to Communities Rise. If possible, send application and attachments by email to and mail fee to Communities Rise.

Communities Rise (Wayfind) 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.

If your application is approved, Communities Rise will use its best efforts to place the matter as soon as possible. Communities Rise cannot guarantee it will find a volunteer or how long it may take for an attorney to volunteer. Sometimes it can take a few weeks to a number of months to find a volunteer attorney. Communities Rise itself will not provide legal representation. Your organization will need to sign an engagement letter with the volunteer attorney outlining the scope of the representation, and will work directly with that volunteer attorney.

Please keep in mind that the process to complete the IRS application for 501(c)(3) status can take anywhere from 2-4 months to complete the IRS application with your attorney, and then several more months to receive your IRS notification letter. The IRS fee for filing for 501(c)(3) status is $850.00. The nonprofit organization is responsible for paying for 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 Business Resources for Tools menu.