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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.    

  1. 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)

  2. 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)

  3. Register your non-profit's name (including as a "fictitious business name"). (Learn more: Registering Your Business Name)

  4. Decide where to incorporate your non-profit. (Learn more: Deciding Where to Incorporate)

  5. Choose directors for your non-profit corporation. (Learn more: Corporate Structure: Directors to Shareholders)

  6. Create and sign your non-profit corporation's Articles of Incorporation. (Learn more: Writing and Filing the Articles of Incorporation)

  7. File your non-profit corporation's Articles of Incorporation with your state's Secretary of State, and pay related filing fees.

  8. Write your non-profit corporation's By-Laws. (Learn more: Writing Corporate By-Laws )

  9. Apply for tax-exempt status from the federal and state government. (Learn more: Becoming a Tax-Exempt Organization)

  10. Obtain business licenses and permits for your corporation from:
  11. 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.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified business organizations attorney to help you
choose the best formation for your business.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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