Starting a Land Trust in Mass

What you will need to form a legal land trust to buy and hold land and conservation restrictions in Massachusetts.

Many communities across the Commonwealth have come together in search of the tools they need to protect land from development. Forming a land trust organization provides communities with the legal entity they need to buy and hold land and conservation restrictions. The decision to form a land trust is not easy. Founders need considerable resources in dedicated volunteers and money and a strong, long-term commitment.

There are considerable resources available to individuals and groups considering this worthy yet time-consuming endeavor. Organizations such as the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition (, Land Trust Alliance (, statewide land trusts like Massachusetts Audubon Society (, The Nature Conservancy (, and The Trustees( and are available to lend assistance. Likewise, local and regional land trusts can offer their stories and advice. (For a list of land trusts in Massachusetts see

It is recommended that those interested in forming a land trust purchase and read Nonprofit Law and Recordkeeping for Land Trusts – Volume I: Complying with Federal, State and Local Law by the Land Trust Alliance at: (Note: there is a charge for this document.)  The Mass Nonprofit Network  has valuable information specific to Massachusetts about starting a nonprofit organization at:

Compiled below are documents that offer additional reading on the organization formation process. - has more information for nonprofits

The National Center for Charitable Statistics has many resources

Internal Revenue Service - General tax information for charitable organizations

Internal Revenue Service - Circular on Tax Exempt Status

Internal Revenue Service - Application for Recognition of Exemption

Internal Revenue Service - Exemption Requirements

Massachusetts - Articles of Organization forms

Land Trust Alliance Standard 1: Purpose and Goals
Learn about Standards and Practices at:

Federal filing requirements:

Massachusetts filing requirements:

Massachusetts forms: