Step 1) Pick a Name for your Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameThe name of your Wisconsin Non-Profit should contain any of the following words: ‘Corporation’, ‘Company’, ‘Incorporated’, or ‘Limited’. Alternatively, its corresponding abbreviations, that is, ‘corp.’, ‘co.’, ‘inc.’, or ‘ltd.’, can also be used or its corresponding words or abbreviations in another language, which holds the same meaning.

To validate a Non-Profit name, you can check it with the Wisconsin business name search database.


Step 2) Elect the Initial Directors and Officers of your Non-Profit

Choose the Initial DirectorsAs the incorporator of a Non-Profit, it is your responsibility to elect the initial directors and officers of your organization. In the state of Wisconsin, three or more directors are required to operate your Non-Profit.

These directors will help you decide on crucial matters within the organization so it is crucial that you choose these individuals carefully.


Step 3) Choose a Wisconsin Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentAs a Wisconsin Non-Profit, you must hire the services of a Registered Agent. This professional is in-charge of taking care of your legal notifications, ensuring that you can comply with all the requirements of the state.

Your Wisconsin Registered Agent can be an individual, residing in Wisconsin, or a business entity that is duly registered with the state to conduct business. A physical street address in Wisconsin should also be provided by the Registered Agent. Most importantly, the Registered Agent should accept the designation before filing the incorporation.

A Registered Agent costs about $160 per year of retainer services, but if you’re incorporating a Wisconsin Non-Profit with IncFile, you get free Registered Agent Services.


Step 4) File a Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation

Register an LLCA Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation should be filed to be recognized as a legal Non-Profit. File this form with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions through mail as instructed. The following information should be included when filing the Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation:

In addition to the above information, you must also include several languages necessary to get the 501(x)(3) tax exempt status of the Internal Revenue Service. These languages include:


Step 5) Schedule a Preliminary Meeting with the Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe preliminary meeting is an organizational meeting where a number of important agenda are discussed and decided:

An accurate account of the points discussed during the meeting should be recorded in the minutes, and this document is to be signed by all the participants of the meeting.


Step 6) Start a Corporate Records Binder

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsStart a Corporate Records Binder to keep all your Non-Profit documents organized in one single place you can easily access when it is needed. Documents like business licenses and permits, copies of reports and Articles of Incorporation, minutes of the meeting and every document deemed vital in the smooth operations of a Non-Profit.

Your nearest office and school supply shop usually has a Corporate Records Binder available, but you can also order through Amazon.


Step 7) Obtain a Federal EIN for your Non-Profit

Get an EIN for Your LLCDespite being a Wisconsin Non-Profit, you still need to request for a federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS. This 9-series number serves as a distinct identifier to your Non-Profit, and almost all transactions and contracts that your Non-Profit go into will require an EIN.

There are several methods to obtain your Employer Identification Number, but by far, the easiest and most convenient is to apply for it online at the IRS website free of any charge.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountAt the onset of your Wisconsin Non-Profit, it may seem a bit of extra work to open a corporate banking account when you already have an existing personal one. However, the merits of opening a business bank account will far outweigh the effort you extend when opening it. Also, come tax time, having a separate banking account helps you complete reports easier.

Recommended Resource: Check this resource roundup of a list of business banking accounts that are considered the best options in the industry.


Step 9) Apply for Federal and State Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesAfter a Wisconsin Non-Profit has been created by filing an Articles of Incorporation, the next step would be to file for various federal and state tax exemptions. The following steps should take you through these filings:

1) Apply for Federal Tax Exemption by Filing Form 1023

To get started on federal tax exemption, you must file Form 1023. This form is also known as the Application for the Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and it is a lengthy and very detailed form. Before filling out the form, it is important to go through the instructions carefully.

An alternative to the aforementioned form, which can only be used by smaller Non-Profits with estimated annual receipts less than $50,000 and accumulated assets less than $250,000, is Form 1023-EZ, or the Streamlined Application for the Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This form is not only shorter, but it also requires a fewer number of information so it is much easier to fill out.

2) Apply for Wisconsin State Tax Exemptions

As soon as the form above has been filed, and you are granted a federal tax exempt status, you need to work on your state tax exemptions. For in-depth knowledge on the state tax exemptions and its corresponding requirements, check with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

3) Submit Additional Reports and Requirements

Aside from the tax exemptions above, there may also be added requirements and reports you need to deliver as part of your tax exemption status. Depending on the nature of your Non-Profit activities and the size of your Non-Profit, you will be asked to submit a number of requirements and reports. For more information on this matter, check with the Wisconsin government website.


Step 10) Take Care of Wisconsin Business Licenses and Regulations

Business LicensesBusiness licenses and permits are also vital documents to your Wisconsin Non-Profit. It protects your business just as much as it protects your clients/customers. As there are several licenses you need to obtain despite being a Non-Profit, it is essential that you have a thorough understanding of what to do and what requirements need to be completed.

Recommended Resource: Hiring professional services can significantly help in successfully completing your requirements. To gather all the business licenses on your behalf, this awesome package should come in handy. Alternatively, this resource roundup gathered by the SBA should also help.


To-Do After Starting a

Wisconsin Non-Profit

The last two steps are additional tasks you can implement to ensure that your Wisconsin Non-Profit will thrive and grow into a successful organization.

1) Write an Effective Business Plan

Write a Business PlanTo get started on a successful business, you must write an effective business plan. What constitutes a good business plan? One that clearly outlines the business’ mission and goals and how to achieve as well as presenting business contingency plans for eventual challenges.

Quick Links to Writing a Business Plan


2) Create a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteA business website is just as important as any marketing tool your business uses. It helps you establish a strong online presence given that it is created appropriately and used the right way. One effective tool that lets you design a website easily is Bluehost. With the tool’s one-click WordPress installation, you can easily get started on your WordPress website.

Resource for Getting Started: This step-by-step guide is a starter guide to help you design a website easily.

This how to form a Wisconsin Non-Profit is only an informational guide, and it should never be taken as a legal document or even a legal advice. Any legalities involved in starting a Wisconsin Non-Profit should be directed to an expert business lawyer.

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