How to Create a Nonprofit Organization

The first step in creating a nonprofit is to choose a name for your organization. In some states, the name of the nonprofit will need to end with a corporate designator, such as "LLC" or "Inc."

After you have chosen a name, you will need to determine if the name is available. For most states, the place to start is the secretary of state's office.

Contact the corporate division of the secretary of state and inquire into the availability of your chosen name. This can usually be done over the phone or through email. If the name is not available you can inquire into why it is not available. If you want to join nonprofit organizations then have a peek here.

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Oftentimes, a chosen name is listed as unavailable because it too closely resembles the name of an existing business. In that case, it is possible to write to the conflicting business and ask them for a signed and notarized letter allowing you to use the conflicting name.

If your chosen name is available, you can reserve the name for a small fee to ensure that it is not taken before you are able to fully incorporate your new organization.

You'll need to file articles of incorporation with the secretary of state's office after you've chosen an available name for your business. The articles safeguard the board members and personnel from the organization's legal liabilities. The articles should include basic information such as the nonprofit's name and office address.

In addition, the articles must include wording that qualifies the entity as a nonprofit under the Internal Revenue Code. Each state has its own set of requirements for the material that must be included in the articles of incorporation. If you're confused about how to start with preparing the articles of incorporation, you should counsel an attorney.

After the articles of incorporation have been filed with your state, you can begin the process to receive federal recognition as a nonprofit organization. You will need to file a 501(c)(3) application with the Internal Revenue Service. You should also consult IRS Publication 557 for the additional forms that will need to be filed.