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Getting started

Starting a not-for-profit organisation but not sure where to begin? We're here to help. We’ll guide your new organisation through key legal decisions.

Content last updated 22/03/2022

Getting started

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Starting a not-for-profit organisation

The not-for-profit sector faces unique legal issues. That’s why we’ve designed our online resources to help you navigate the key legal questions. Our resources provide legal information tailored to the not-for-profit sector, including how to choose the best legal structure for your group and how to set it up.

When starting a new not-for-profit organisation, things groups need to consider include: 

Getting these issues right at the start will save time, money, administrative headaches and possible legal difficulties for your organisation down the track. 

Getting Started Tool: A free online tool

Need help making key legal decisions? Our self-help tool will ask you a series of questions about your new organisation - in plain and simple English - and will help determine the best way forward.

Before you start a not-for-profit organisation

Before you start a not-for-profit organisation, it’s important to have a clear idea about your group’s purpose and proposed activities, as well as the people that will be involved in your group.

The way you decide to organise your group may be one of the most important decisions you make because, with the right legal structure, your group will: 

  • be able carry out its activities effectively, and in a way that complies with the law 
  • minimise the chance the group will run into legal difficulties (and costs) as it grows or changes, and 
  • be in a better position to deal with legal issues if they do occur 

Checklist: Questions about your group

We’ve created a checklist to help you answer some key questions about your group before starting a not-for-profit organisation.

Our checklist will help you make decisions about your group, such as the way to organise your group. It will also help to highlight any legal issues that your group may need to consider now, and in the future. 

Checklist: Questions about your group (184KB)

Next steps

Once a community group is clear about its aims, membership and activities, it’s important for the group to decide whether to operate as a not-for-profit organisation or a for-profit organisation. View our resources on what not-for-profit means.

The content on this webpage was last updated in March 2022 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.

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