How to Register an NGO

Non-governmental organizations (NGO) refer to not-for-profit voluntary organizations formed to achieve specific objectives such as offering humanitarian services, advocating for human rights or promoting environmental protection. Any profits that may be made by non-governmental organizations must be ploughed back into the organization to enhance achievement of its goals and mission. For an NGO to be successfully registered they must ensure that they are independent of control by any public authority, they are not political parties and they do not engage in criminal or violent activities.

Choose and reserve a name for your non-governmental organization. Establish the purpose of the organization by formulating its vision and mission statements. NGOs are normally established for different purposes such as environmental protection, humanitarian activities, religious activities or promotion and protection of human rights.

Form a board of directors that will be charged with overseeing the activities of the NGO. The board of directors should constitute people who share the NGO's vision and mission. They should be people of high moral integrity since they are meant to serve selflessly and in the best interests of the community. Being the foundation of the NGO, the initial board of directors should be cohesive and offer new and innovative ideas for the successful establishment of the NGO.

Consult a corporate lawyer to help you prepare the articles of incorporation and bylaws that will govern the NGO. The articles of incorporation detail the relationship of the NGO to the community where it will be carrying out its operations. Bylaws, on the other hand, are the self governing rules of the NGO by identifying the organizational structure of the NGO and the rules and regulations of the NGO. Ensure that the articles of incorporation and the bylaws are approved by the board.

Submit your registration application accompanied by articles of incorporation, bylaws, names and addresses of directors, registered office and address of the NGO to your state’s Department of Tax and Revenue. Register with the Internal Revenue Service to acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Inquire from the state tax office on the tax exemption status of the NGO. The application process may take a few days or weeks. Register with the Compliance Programs Division, Office of Foreign Assets Control, United States Department of the Treasury if your NGO will be operating in U.S.-sanctioned countries such as Sudan, Cuba or Iran.