A nonprofit refers to an organization that works to serve a public purpose. It is not geared toward any financial benefits of one set individual, company or entity. Nonprofits simply exist to serve and fulfill a community need. In Belize, these organizations are governed by the Non-Governmental Organisations Act, Chapter 315 of The Laws of Belize.
There is not one set person who owns a nonprofit, but it is owned rather by a governing board of directors. Because nonprofits are not in existence to earn a profit, any excess in revenue of the operating budget will be directed back into the organization.
A Nonprofit is also known as a charity, not for profit, NGO, voluntary organization, social sector or independent sector.
According to the Non-Governmental Organisations Act, the following attributes and characteristics are found in Belize nonprofits:
- Independent from Government control in its operations and management;
- Its purposes should be to achieve sustainable human development on a voluntary, not for profit basis;
- All business affairs should be conducted under the management of its elected board of directors, whom shall not have any personal gains to attain from the organization;
- All activities in Belize should be consistent with the principles and provisions of Belize’s constitution.
If you’ve decided to start up a nonprofit to aid your community, you can contact this law firm in Belize for assistance.
How to Start a Nonprofit?
- Make a plan
The first thing you need to do when starting up a nonprofit is to do your research. You need to ensure that a new nonprofit organization is needed in the community and that it won’t compete with any other NGO’s in the area that serve the same cause.
Next, you’ll need to develop a strategy of operational and fundraising plans. Some areas you’ll need to outline during this phase are:
- Why does that organization exist?
- How will it serve an unmet need in the community?
- How will this nonprofit serve this need differently from other similar nonprofits?
- What will be the mission?
- How will the nonprofit be funded?
- What activities will be undertaken by the nonprofit?
- Choose a name
The name of your nonprofit needs to be unique, but also easily remembered while encompassing the organization’s mission.
- Recruit a Board of Directors
A nonprofit isn’t owned by any one individual but rather managed by a board of directors that is legally accountable for its actions and to oversee the success of the nonprofit’s purpose.
- Draft By-laws
By-laws serve as the operational manual for your nonprofit. They set out the rules that govern the internal management of the organization. These by-laws need to be prepared by the Board of Directors and adopted by the time you go to register the nonprofit.
- Register the organization
You must complete the nonprofit Application Form and attach the following supporting documentation for submission to the Registrar:
- Memorandum of Articles of Association, showing the company is limited by guarantee;
- The registered name and address of the nonprofit;
- Details of the objectives and purposes of the organization, particularly those relating to sustainable human development in Belize;
- The nonprofit’s organizational structure, including details of how its directors are elected along with their duties, powers, and terms of office;
- The accounting and management procedures;
- The names, addresses and occupation of each member of the board;
- Programs that the organization plans to carry out each year;
- An estimation of the maximum annual revenue and grants;
- And, the by-laws of the nonprofit.
Nonprofits in Belize are exempt from all income taxes and may apply to the Minister of Finance to also be exempted from other business taxes and duties. Every nonprofit in Belize is required to keep accounts and other records of the business to ensure that it conforms to commercial and accounting standards. All nonprofit accounts will be audited annually by an auditor appointed by its Board of Directors. These statements of accounts are due within four months after the end of each financial year.
For access to the Non-Governmental Organisations Act, click here.