Checklist: Starting a Non-Profit Corporation
If you are thinking of starting a non-profit corporation, below is a checklist of steps to take before you open for business. Keep in mind that your non-profit's start-up requirements might vary from the list below, depending on the specific type of business you are in, and where your business is located.
- Decide on a business name for your non-profit corporation. Keep in mind that your state may require that your non-profit corporation's name include an identifying word such as "incorporated," "limited," "corporation," or an abbreviation of such a term. (Learn more: Pick a Winning Name for Your Business)
- Search availability of your non-profit's chosen business name, and for similarity to existing names. (Learn more: Make Sure Your Proposed Business Name is Available)
- Register your non-profit's name (including as a "fictitious business name"). (Learn more: Registering Your Business Name)
- Decide where to incorporate your non-profit. (Learn more: Deciding Where to Incorporate)
- Choose directors for your non-profit corporation. (Learn more: Corporate Structure: Directors to Shareholders)
- Create and sign your non-profit corporation's Articles of Incorporation. (Learn more: Writing and Filing the Articles of Incorporation)
- File your non-profit corporation's Articles of Incorporation with your state's Secretary of State, and pay related filing fees.
- Write your non-profit corporation's By-Laws. (Learn more: Writing Corporate By-Laws )
- Apply for tax-exempt status from the federal and state government. (Learn more: Becoming a Tax-Exempt Organization)
- Obtain business licenses and permits for your corporation from:
- The federal government. (Learn more: Federal Start-Up Requirements)
- Your state government.
- Your local government. (Learn more: Local Start-Up Requirements)
- Open a separate bank account for your non-profit corporation.
Incorporating can be a benefit to your new non-profit organization in the long run -- most notably if your business obtains tax-exempt status -- but the incorporation process can be complicated. To ensure that your new non-profit complies with your state's legal requirements at all steps in the incorporation process, you may wish to consult an experienced business attorney. Click here to learn more.