How to register a nonprofit organization

Updated February 21, 2017

Registering a nonprofit is a multilayered process for setting up a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits are run for the purpose of promoting an objective or goal and raising funds for a particular cause. Starting a non-profit can be a simple process, but all must be incorporated and registered for tax exempt status at the state and local level.

Compose Articles of Incorporation for your organization. Have them approved by the board of directors.

Write a set of bylaws for your organization. These should reflect the purpose and goals of your nonprofit as outlined in your mission statement.

Find out what documents are needed for incorporation within your state. These may include your Articles and bylaws. File them according to state guidelines.

Apply for 501c3 status from the federal government. This qualifies you as a tax exempt organization.

File for tax exempt status and property tax exemption from your state and city. This should be done after you've received approval from the IRS.

Get a license to solicit funds. Your group will need to do its own fundraising, and your city may require you to have a license.

Fill out a bulk mailing permit. This will save money on mass mailings.


Hire employees after all documents are filed and you are registered. This will prevent problems down the road. Be sure to have appropriate insurance for your nonprofit.


Running a nonprofit organization takes long hours of hard work and good organizational skills. Find people to work with you who share your vision before you begin the process of registering.

Things You'll Need

  • Mission statement for your organization
  • Board Members
  • Attorney specializing in forming nonprofits
  • Bank account for your organization
  • Accountant
  • Insurance agent
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