Nonprofit Incorporation

Are you a nonprofit leader with a heart full of compassion, a desire to bring positive change to the world, and an unwavering commitment to your mission? If so, you are part of a remarkable community of altruists who aim to make a lasting impact on society. But before you dive headfirst into the world of philanthropy, let's discuss a crucial component of our nonprofit formation services: nonprofit incorporation.

A group of professionals discussing how to move forward with nonprofit incorporation.

Chisholm Law - Your Guiding Light in Nonprofit Law

Chisholm Law is your trusted supporter in navigating the intricate legal landscape of nonprofit organizations. We do more than provide legal advice; we're here to help your organization thrive.

With years of experience and a deep understanding of the nonprofit sector, our dedicated legal team stands ready to help you realize your dreams of creating a better world.

The Importance of Nonprofit Incorporation

Why is incorporating your nonprofit organization essential? Think of it as the foundation of your mission. Incorporation provides your nonprofit with a distinct legal identity, separating your personal assets from those of the organization. This separation is vital because it shields you from personal liability, ensuring that your noble efforts don't lead to personal financial troubles.

Incorporation also offers your organization various benefits such as federal tax-exempt status, which can lead to significant financial advantages. Incorporation establishes a structured framework for governance and operations, attracting donors and supporters who have confidence in your organization's stability and accountability.

It also allows you to enter into contracts, own property, and sue or be sued in your nonprofit's name. Furthermore, it opens doors to applying for grants, accessing resources, and fostering partnerships.

So, let's take a closer look at the steps involved in nonprofit incorporation. With the guidance of an experienced and professional legal team like Chisholm Law, you can successfully navigate this process and safeguard your nonprofit's future.

Step 1: Preliminary Considerations

To start, you need to clarify your nonprofit's mission and purpose. What drives your passion for change? This step is not just about writing a mission statement; it's about defining the impact you aim to have on the world. Understanding your mission at its core will guide all your future decisions.

Once your mission is clear, it's time to select the most suitable legal structure for your nonprofit, such as a 501(c)(3) for charitable organizations or 501(c)(4) for social welfare organizations. Your chosen structure will affect your nonprofit's ability to obtain tax-exempt status, operational flexibility, and capacity to engage in certain activities. Therefore, it's crucial to choose the one that aligns best with your mission.

Additionally, don't forget to determine a trademarked name for your nonprofit and ensure it's available for registration. Your chosen name is more than just a label; it's a reflection of your identity, your values, and your vision. It's what people will remember you by, so choose it wisely.

Step 2: Prepare the Articles of Incorporation

The articles of incorporation are the building blocks of your nonprofit's existence. These legal documents set out the fundamental framework and governing principles of your organization. The articles typically include essential details such as the organization's name, location, purpose, governance structure, registered agent, and more.

We'll help you understand the key components of the articles and provide guidance on the required language and information. These articles must be carefully crafted as they will be the blueprint for your organization's structure and operations.

Step 3: Appoint a Registered Agent

A registered agent serves as a communication bridge between your nonprofit and the government. Their primary role is to receive legal documents, notices, and other official correspondence on behalf of your organization. This position is vital to ensure that your nonprofit stays informed about any legal or regulatory matters.

We will define the role of a registered agent and guide you on how to choose a suitable one. The registered agent should be reliable, with a physical address in the state where your nonprofit is incorporated, and should be available during regular business hours to receive official communications.

Step 4: File the Articles of Incorporation

Filing your articles of incorporation is a crucial step in establishing your nonprofit's legal status. These documents need to be submitted to the appropriate state agency responsible for business or nonprofit registrations. The process may vary from state to state, so it's essential to follow the specific guidelines provided by your state.

We will provide clear instructions on where and how to submit the paperwork, whether it's online or through traditional mail. Additionally, we'll highlight any associated filing fees, which can vary depending on your state and the type of nonprofit structure you've chosen.

Step 5: Create Bylaws

Bylaws are the internal rules and regulations that govern your nonprofit organization. They provide a detailed framework for your nonprofit's operations and decision-making processes. Bylaws typically cover areas such as board structure, officer roles and responsibilities, membership requirements, meeting procedures, and financial management.

We'll explain the purpose of bylaws in a nonprofit and provide guidelines for drafting and adopting these bylaws. It's vital to create bylaws that align with your nonprofit's mission and values while also complying with state and federal regulations.

Step 6: Obtain an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is essential for tax purposes. It is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your nonprofit organization. An EIN is necessary for opening a bank account, applying for tax-exempt status, and filing federal tax returns. Without a properly registered EIN, you will violate Internal Revenue Code.

We will describe what an EIN is, why it's needed, and how to apply for one through the IRS. Obtaining an EIN is a straightforward process, but it's a critical step in establishing your nonprofit's financial and tax identity.

Step 7: Compliance with State Laws

Each state has specific requirements for nonprofits, and it's essential to understand and comply with them. These state laws can include registration and reporting obligations, annual filing requirements, and other regulatory mandates.

We'll highlight state-specific requirements that your nonprofit must meet and address any additional state filings or registrations that may be necessary. Ensuring compliance with state laws is crucial to maintain your nonprofit's good standing.

Step 8: Application for Tax-Exempt Status

One of the most significant benefits of nonprofit incorporation is the ability to apply for tax-exempt status, such as 501(c)(3) for charitable organizations. Tax-exempt status provides numerous advantages, including the ability to receive tax-deductible donations and access various grant opportunities.

We'll provide an overview of the process to apply for tax-exempt status, emphasizing the importance of making this application to gain tax benefits. The IRS offers two primary forms for tax-exempt status applications: Form 1023 for public charities and Form 1024 for other exempt organizations. We will guide you through the requirements and submission process.

Step 9: Maintaining Ongoing Compliance

Once your nonprofit is incorporated and tax-exempt status is obtained, it's crucial to maintain ongoing compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Compliance is not a one-time event but a continuous process that ensures your nonprofit operates within the boundaries of the law.

We'll discuss the importance of maintaining compliance, including annual reporting, record-keeping, and timely tax filings. By staying up to date with all regulatory obligations, you'll protect your nonprofit's legal status and preserve its ability to serve its mission effectively.

The Role of an Incorporator for a Nonprofit

An incorporator is the visionary who kickstarts the nonprofit's incorporation journey. They hold the key to turning a dream into reality. The incorporator plays a pivotal role in initiating the legal process, overseeing the paperwork, and making your mission legally recognized.


We'll outline the specific responsibilities of an incorporator, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling these duties accurately. An incorporator is usually the person or entity named in the articles of incorporation who signs the document and submits it to the state. Their role includes:

  • Initiating the incorporation process.
  • Signing and submitting the articles of incorporation.
  • Ensuring compliance with state incorporation laws.
  • Appointing the initial board of directors.
  • Keeping accurate records of the incorporation process.

The responsibilities of an incorporator are critical, and they should be carried out with precision to ensure the successful creation of your nonprofit.


Choosing the right incorporator is paramount. We'll provide tips on selecting a trustworthy and capable individual or legal entity to take on this role. When selecting an incorporator, consider the following:

  1. Reliability: The incorporator must be someone you can trust to fulfill their duties accurately and on time.
  2. Eligibility: Ensure that the chosen individual or entity is eligible to act as an incorporator under your state's laws.
  3. Long-Term Commitment: The incorporator's role doesn't end with the initial incorporation. They may need to fulfill ongoing responsibilities, so consider someone who is willing to stay engaged.
  4. Legal and Regulatory Knowledge: Having a basic understanding of nonprofit and corporate laws is beneficial for the incorporator.

Considerations for individuals vs. legal entities as incorporators:

  • Individual Incorporator: This is a common choice, especially for small nonprofits. An individual, such as a founder or board member, can act as the incorporator.
  • Legal Entity Incorporator: In some cases, a corporation or another legal entity can serve as the incorporator, particularly when there's a desire for added liability protection or longevity of the organization.

Want to learn more? Explore all our nonprofit formation services:

Legal Implications of Hiring an Incorporator as a Charitable Organization

Understanding the legal obligations and liabilities of an incorporator is essential. We'll highlight the potential consequences of failing to meet these responsibilities, ensuring that you're fully informed.

The legal implications of the incorporator's role can vary by state and organization type. Typically, an incorporator is responsible for ensuring that the articles of incorporation are accurately prepared and submitted, that they comply with state laws, and that they meet the specific requirements for nonprofit organizations.

If an incorporator fails to fulfill their duties accurately, it can lead to delays in the incorporation process or even potential legal consequences.

Why Choose Chisholm Law for Your Nonprofit Incorporation?

Our specialization in nonprofit law sets us apart. We know the ins and outs of nonprofit incorporation, and we're passionate about helping you succeed. Benefit from our guidance and experience, and explore testimonials or case studies from nonprofit leaders who've walked this path with us.

Our commitment to nonprofits goes beyond legal experience. We share your vision of making a positive impact on the world, and we understand the unique challenges and opportunities you face. When you choose Chisholm Law, you're choosing a legal supporter who is as dedicated to your mission as you are.

Nonprofit leaders who have worked with us often express their satisfaction with the support they received. They've found value in our in-depth knowledge of nonprofit law, our personalized approach to every client, and our commitment to ensuring the incorporation process goes smoothly.

Take the first step toward making a positive impact on the world. Schedule a free consultation with Chisholm Law and let us help you navigate the nonprofit incorporation process smoothly, ensuring your mission remains at the forefront.

Together, we can create a brighter, more compassionate world. Join us in this journey of making a difference, and let the legal professionals at Chisholm Law be your guiding light in the world of nonprofit incorporation. Together, we can turn your vision into a reality, one step at a time.

“We Are Proud Of Our 100% Success Rate For Our Nonprofit Filings 99.9% Success Rate for Trademark Filings Since 2010.*”


CHISHOLM LAW FIRM Official Logo (2024)