If you’re well prepared regarding the needs of the state and what you have to provide in order to form a nonprofit organization in a particular state, you’ll save much time and energy later in the proceedings.
Most of the time, there’s a form that needs to be filled out, in order to incorporate your non-profit organization. On the form, simply select the “non-profit” option on the checkbox to designate the type of corporation. There are actually some large differences in the fees and type of information necessary for each state, but there are a few basics common to most states, outlined below.
The name of the organization. After you’ve conducted a preliminary search for the availability of the name you’d like to attribute to your non-profit business, and discovered that it’s available, the desired name should be included in the information you gather for the state. It usually ends with the suffixes “Corporation” or “Company” or “Limited” etc. Most of the time, use of abbreviations is acceptable, and they’re written as “Corp.” or “Ltd.” etc. The state decides finally whether the desired name will be allowed for the company and either grants it or refuses it (based on whether it finds it deceptively similar to any existing companies).
The purpose of your business. Information on why you’ve opted for a non-profit corporation and what its aim and purpose are, should be included in the articles of incorporation you send to the state. Unlike profit-oriented corporations, the non-profits need to give a detailed outline of their purpose and why they’re being brought into existence. If you want to have a tax-exemption for your non-profit work, you need to apply to the IRS, which is the final authority in the decision to grant it to based on the detailed articles of incorporation you submit. Receiving an accurate classification of your non-profit business is essential to the IRS.
If your non-profit fits into 501(c) (3) non-profit clause, it means that your work is related to either public charity or it is a private foundation aiming at educational, religious, literary or charitable works. It also includes public safety measures, development of amateur sports, prevention of cruelty to animals and children etc. You should be aware that, to get tax-exempt status, you need to file with the IRS and fill out the form 1023. Other procedures are also mandatory in some states, and your state department of taxation can guide you in this regard.
The Registered Agent. Even a non-profit corporation needs to have a registered agent to deal with the tax and legal documents – and information about the agent must be included in the articles of incorporation. He or she must possess a physical address in the state of formation and also must be present during business hours. He or she is responsible for the initiation of any lawsuits and for receipt of taxation documents from the concerned department. His or her address is a matter of public record.
The Incorporator. In the formation documents, the name, address and signature of the incorporator (the one who is preparing and filing the documents with the state) needs to be included.
The Directors. On the formation documents, many states require a list of the names and addresses of the directors of the non-profit corporation. Though they may not be responsible for the day-to-day activities of the business, they determine the overall direction of the company and are responsible for any major decisions. They appoint the Officers of the non-profit.
The Officers. Some of the U.S. states insist on listing the information of the officers in a non-profit corporation. They are involved in the day-to-day activities of the corporation and they include the President, the Vice-president, the Treasurer and the Secretary.
The principal address of the non-profit. Some of the U.S. states may require the legal address of your non-profit corporation.
Taking time and care when assembling this information makes it easier for you to approach the state authorities for incorporation.
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