Nonprofit organizations include everything from breast cancer awareness to animal welfare and everything between. There are nonprofits that help children of divorced parents, aid veterans and assist in building homes for the homeless. These nonprofits are registered with the secretary of state for the respective state they are in, and for that reason need to be registered as a business. Form an LLC for your nonprofit to protect personal assets.
Name the business. Depending on the state, the business name may be required to have an identifying word such as "corporation" or "limited." The secretary of state website would have this information. Research the name. Confirm there are no existing names that are an exact match and that name is available. Register the nonprofit name with the secretary of state.
Incorporate the nonprofit business. Nonprofit LLCs can be registered and incorporated in any state most members choose to incorporate in the state which business is conducted (fundraisers are primarily held).
Nominate or choose directors. The majority of states require there be three members or directors to establish and register a nonprofit.
Write and file the articles of incorporation. The articles of incorporation are the paperwork that , once filed, establishes the organization as a registered business in the state. Included in the articles will be the nonprofit's name and physical address, although many nonprofits have a post office box, which is acceptable; the purpose--an example would be to save homeless dogs; the name and address of the registered agent--maybe an on-call attorney, as there are attorneys who work pro bono for nonprofit companies; and the names of the members. The member or owner of the nonprofit LLC could have the pro bono attorney prepare the articles of incorporation. However, there are many resources, examples and even templates of this located on the Internet (see Resources) and at public libraries. Once this is prepared, it will need to be filed with the secretary of state.
Write the company bylaws. A bylaw document for a nonprofit LLC is a document that lays out details of the company, such as the rules and procedures for making decisions within the company and any other important guidelines.
Apply for tax-exemption status with the IRS through the IRS website. The IRS will require a copy of the bylaws so that step should be completed first. While filing for tax exempt status is something that can be done by the members of the nonprofit, it is also something a pro bono attorney may help with.
Sarah Estlund is a freelance writer based out of Kansas City. Originally from the Hawkeye State, she received her degree in journalism from the University of Iowa. Estlund writes a dating column as well as more than 15 blogs ranging in topic from celebrity, fashion, pets, self-help and alternative medicine. She has a love of animals and shares that passion in her writing.