Step 1) Make a Name for Your Nonprofit

Choose a Business NameThe name of your West Virginia Corporation must have one of the following words or abbreviations after: corporation, incorporated, company, limited, corp., inc., co., or ltd. It should also be distinguishable from other existing names registered before the West Virginia Secretary of State.

To check of your chosen nonprofit name is available, you can use the Business Organization Name Search available at the Secretary of State’s website. While organizing your articles of incorporation, you can reserve your nonprofit name so that other organizations do not use it.


Step 2) Appoint Officers and Directors for Your Nonprofit

Choose the Initial DirectorsTo operate your West Virginia Nonprofit smoothly, you have to appoint officers to do the job and a board of directors to make the calls and decisions.

According to West Virginia law, you must appoint three or more directors for your nonprofit. They should be of legal age and must be residents of the state.


Step 3) Designate a West Virginia Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentNonprofits are required by West Virginia law to designate and maintain a registered agent who will accept service of process notices and other legal documents in your nonprofit’s behalf. A West Virginia Registered Agent can be an individual or a company permitted to do business in the state.

Upon appointing one, make sure that an agent has a physical street address. Your agent must also be a resident of West Virginia and must willingly accept the responsibility of receiving documents for your nonprofit.


Step 4) Prepare and File Your Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation

Register an LLCYour West Virginia Nonprofit is formed when your file your nonprofit articles of organization before the Secretary of State. Some of the following information must be included in your articles:

The articles of incorporation form can be found at the West Virginia Secretary of State. You can fill out the form online or you can download it and send it via postal mail. Apart from filing your articles, you also need to be granted a tax exempt status from the IRS, where you need to include specific languages which include the following:

If you need more information on the tax exempt status given by the IRS, as well as the sample languages, you can see the IRS Publication 557, Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization on the IRS website.


Step 5) Hold a First Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe organizational meeting also known as the first meeting is where you will discuss the following important agenda:

Make sure that you record the meeting and have your directors sign the minutes. After that, you can keep the minutes of the meeting in your Corporate Records Binder for safekeeping.


Step 6) Set-up a Corporate Records Books

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsYour Corporate  Records Book or known as your Corporate Records Binder is an important requirement because this is where you’ll keep all your documents.

Included are your articles of incorporation, bylaws, registrations, minutes of meetings, stock certificates and many others. Buy your Corporate Records Book at your local office supply or you may place a direct order from Amazon.


Step 7) Obtain an EIN for Your West Virginia Organization

Get an EIN for Your LLCEven if you’re not really doing business, you still need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It is a  9-series identification number that will enable the IRS to monitor your activities and taxes. It is also used in many transactions which is why you need to have one for your nonprofit.

Obtain your EIN now at the at the IRS website for free.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountA business bank account is essential if you want to separate your personal and non profit assets. It will also help you keep track of your donations and funding better because every transaction or expense is recorded in real time.

Recommended Resource: Read this roundup to help you choose which type of business bank account is best for you.


Step 9) Apply for Federal and State Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesNow that you’ve finally completed the incorporation of your nonprofit, the next thing to do is obtain your federal and West Virginia tax exemptions. Follow the steps indicated below.

1) File your 1023 federal tax exemption form

The Form 1023 or the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code should be completed to get a tax exempt status. This form is very detailed and might need you to prepare some of the following information:nonprofit history, nonprofit finances, organizational structure, non profit policies and activities.

Once the form is completely filled out, check it for any inconsistencies and submit it to this address:

Internal Revenue Service

P.O. Box 12192

Covington, KY 41012-0192

For nonprofits who will qualify as a small nonprofit, they can file the Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code instead. To be eligible, a West Virginia Nonprofit must have annual gross receipts of less than $50,000 in a year and assets of lower than $250,000.

Unlike the Form 1023, this form is not comprehensive and will only ask a few questions. You have to prepare a filing fee of $850 for the form 1023 and $400 for IRS Form 1023-EZ.

2) Obtain your West Virginia state tax exemptions

Once you get a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, you become automatically exempt from West Virginia state taxes. For other tax exemptions, you can visit the West Virginia State Tax Department.

3) Comply with additional requirements

Before you can conduct fundraising or charitable activities in West Virginia, you need to register with the state first. This will depend o the size of your organization and the activities to be conducted. For further information about this policy, you can check out the Secretary of State’s fundraising and registration requirements for nonprofits.


Step 10) Get Your West Virginia Business Licenses

Business LicensesBefore you can operate a West Virginia Nonprofit, you are required to obtain the certain business licenses. By getting applicable licenses based on your nonprofit, you are showing your adherence and support for state requirements and standards.

You may apply for business licenses, permits and other registrations, through Business4WV – Online Business Registration System.

Recommended Resource: Business license are different from city or county. For professional assistance during compilation, you can use business research license package.


To-do After Starting a

West Virginia Nonprofit

Congratulations on finally incorporating as a West Virginia Nonprofit! Before you start your operations, make sure that you do the following additional requirements. Not mandatory requirements but highly recommended.

1) Write a Solid Business Plan

Write a Business PlanEven if you’re a nonprofit, you will still be able to find a business plan helpful. Writing a business plan will help you set your goals and objectives straight and create better ways to achieve them. It is a detailed blueprint that will guide you in efficiently operating your West Virginia Nonprofit.

If you want to start writing a business plan for your West Virginia nonprofit, check out the resources below.

Writing a Business Plan Quick-Links


2) Create a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteA business website is absolutely necessary these days, even for nonprofits. Since you’re trying to raise funds for your cause, it is important that you relay your message to the audience clearly. It will also help the public to reach and access you easily.

Building a business website today is easy because there are we building tools that you can use. One example is WordPress. The latter is a free web building tool that enables you to create and personalize your own website in just minutes.

Resource for Getting Started: You can use this step-by-step guide to help you get started.

The article is only an informational/instructional guide and should not be considered a legal advice or a legal document. If you have any questions on starting a nonprofit in West Virginia, you should consult your lawyer for professional legal advice.

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