A nonprofit corporation (also called nonprofit, non-profit, NPO or not-for-profit) is an entity formed for purposes other than making a profit. Non-profit corporations are formed pursuant to different state laws than standard for-profit corporations, but the process of forming a nonprofit is very similar.
Like standard for-profit corporations, nonprofits provide limited liability protection. The personal assets of the directors, members and officers typically cannot be used to satisfy the debts and liabilities of the nonprofit.
To be considered tax-exempt, nonprofits must apply for federal and state (if applicable) tax-exempt status. Tax-exempt status is not automatically granted once the nonprofit is formed. To apply for federal tax-exempt status, Form 1023 must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For state requirements, it is best to contact the department responsible for taxation in the state of formation.
Please note: BizFilings does not assist with the preparation and filing of Form 1023. Our recommended resource is The Foundation Group.
No, when starting a non-profit, an attorney is not a legal requirement to form a non-profit corporation. You can prepare and file the Articles of Incorporation yourself; however, you should understand the requirements of your intended state of incorporation.
You can use BizFilings' service to form a non-profit and save money on attorney fees. However, if you are unsure if incorporation will benefit your organization, consult an attorney or accountant.
As with naming any business or organization, naming a non-profit is an important business step when starting a non-profit organization. Pick a name that will project the image you want for your new non-profit. Legally, the name must not be "deceptively similar" to any existing corporation in your state of incorporation or must be "distinguishable on the record" of your state. It is possible that the name you select will not be available—that's why we ask for a second choice on our incorporation order form.
Additionally, the name you choose to form a non-profit must show your non-profit is incorporated. Many states require that the non-profit name be followed by "Corporation," "Incorporated," "Company" or an abbreviation of those terms, such as "Corp." or "Inc."
BizFilings prepares Articles of Incorporation for nonprofits pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Nonprofits formed under 501(c)(3) must be formed for some religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering of national or international amateur sports, or prevention of cruelty to animals or children purpose. Nonprofits may also be formed for other purposes pursuant to different sections of the Internal Revenue Code. If you want BizFilings to form your nonprofit pursuant to a different provision of the Internal Revenue Code, please let us know the Internal Revenue Code section in the purpose portion of our order form.
To determine if your nonprofit needs to be formed pursuant to another provision of the Internal Revenue Code, please consult the IRS Organization Reference Chart. For specific advice on how to form a non-profit with the proper IRS classification, please consult an attorney or accountant.
Because nonprofits are formed for purposes other than making a profit, the entity is a non-stock entity. As a result, there technically are no owner(s) of a nonprofit corporation like there are for for-profit corporations.
Nonprofits are similar to for-profit corporations, in that they are overseen by a board of directors. The nonprofit directors are responsible for making the major decisions for the nonprofit, and also appointing and supervising the officers of the nonprofit. The officers are then responsible for the everyday management of the nonprofit. Nonprofits also may have members, and some states require you to indicate on the nonprofit Articles of Incorporation whether directors and/or members will be involved in the nonprofit.
When you form a nonprofit corporation or register one to transact business in another state (a process called foreign qualification), you are required to name a registered agent for your nonprofit. The registered agent is responsible for receiving important legal and tax document on behalf of your nonprofit. Additionally, the registered agent must have a physical address in your state of incorporation (post office boxes are not allowed) and be available during normal business hours.
BizFilings provides Registered Agent Service as part of its incorporation service packages. As your registered agent, BizFilings not only satisfies the legal requirements for registered agents but also provides a number of benefits at no additional charge to you. Registered Agent Service customers also receive Registered Agent Watch─our monthly compliance email with information specific to your nonprofit, access to BizComply─our online compliance management tool, electronic Service of Process (notice of litigation) delivery, online access to your account and more.
Having BizFilings as your registered agent is important if you:
No. BizFilings’ Rush Filing Service for nonprofit corporations is available in the jurisdictions listed in the chart below. The turnaround time listed is the time it will take us to receive verification that your incorporation documents have been filed with the state, following the name approval or consent. The timeframe excludes weekends and holidays. Total time for receiving your state-approved incorporation documents from the state and returning them to you may take around a week after verification.
|State||Turnaround Time||State||Turnaround Time|
|Arkansas||24 hours||Massachusetts||24 hours|
|California||48 hours||Michigan||48 hours|
|Colorado||24 hours||Montana||24 hours|
|Connecticut||48 hours||Nevada||48 hours|
|Delaware||24 hours||New Mexico||48 hours|
|Florida||24 hours||Nortd Carolina||48 hours|
|Hawaii||48 hours||Ohio||48 hours|
|Kansas||24 hours||Texas||24 hours|
|Maryland||48 hours||Virginia||48 hours|
The 24- or 48-hour filing time is for the formation of your non-profit only. It typically takes longer for the states to produce the filed formation documents. Once BizFilings receives your formation documents from the state, we will ship them to you via FedEx Overnight delivery. This means you should have your documents in hand anywhere from just a few days to one week after filing to form a non-profit corporation. We will also scan and make them available in our Online Status Center, providing you with access before you receive the originals.
Note: some states require your signature on the incorporation documents when someone other than BizFilings is acting as registered agent. In these cases, the filing timeframe of 24- to 48-hours begins after we have received the signed documents and received any applicable prior approvals or consent.
The following Learning Center materials can help you understand nonprofit incorporation:
The following products/services are included in our incorporation service packages or are available as add-ons:
We have resources to help you understand your options.