If you are running a class reunion, you could use your personal bank account as a way to collect and disperse funds, but for propriety's sake, it is a good idea to open a non-profit account. You do not need to go through the long and complicated process of incorporation to obtain such an account, but you will need an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. Starting a fully incorporated non-profit group should only be considered if you plan on having activities or raising funds beyond the reunion.
How to Start a Non-Profit Group for a Class Reunion
Things You'll Need
IRS Form SS-4 (Application for EIN)
Articles of Incorporation (optional)
IRS Form 1024 Application for 501(a) Recognition (optional)
EIN for Banking
Apply for an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. The IRS provides this a free service for banking purposes only. Fill out IRS Form SS-4, Request for EIN. Name the entity requesting the number as the reunion, for example, "West High Class of 2005 Reunion." You can use the same EIN for future reunions.
Choose the purpose of the group as "Banking Purposes" on line 10. You will notice that this applies to clubs or organizations that simply need a place to store funds and complete transactions. Submit the completed form to the IRS.
Use the EIN you receive to open a bank account in the reunion's name.
Keep your gross receipts under $5,000 average per year in order to qualify for non-profit status without charges.
Create a non-profit organization, which is legally necessary if you plan to pursue fundraising efforts beside the reunion itself. This process is pricey and complicated, which is why it is best suited to alumni groups who plan on continued fundraising efforts with gross receipts over $5,000 per year. Begin by drafting by-laws. By-laws state the purpose and organization of the group and name the major offices, such as president, treasurer and secretary.
File articles of incorporation in your state. Expect to pay a fee to do this, ranging up to about $150 in 2010.
Apply with the IRS for an EIN number, stating that you are non-profit corporation.
Open a bank account using your EIN number and non-profit name.
File for non-profit status with both the state where you will be doing business and the IRS. The state fees vary, with some providing this service for free. If you are planning on having under $10,000 in revenue average per year, the filing fee for the IRS in 2010 is $300, while those earning over $10,000 must pay $700.
If you are starting a non-profit group, consult a lawyer to save time and energy. They can advise you on how to word your by-laws or how to best fill out the IRS non-profit forms.
Protect yourself and your group by keeping careful track of every transaction made with your EIN. The IRS could take an interest in your activities, particularly if your bank balances are about $5,000.