STEP 1) SECURE NON-PROFIT NAME

Choose a Business NameNaming your non-profit should be fun! That said, there are some rules, for example these three as per ID Code § 30-21-302 (2015):

  • (1) It should contain any of the following words or its exact abbreviation: ‘company’, ‘corporation’, ‘incorporated’, or ‘limited’.
  • (2) If the word ‘company’ or its corresponding abbreviation is used in the name, the word cannot be preceded with ‘and’.
  • (3) The business name should be unique from any other business entity registered in the state.

Be sure to conduct a Business Entity Search. through the state to confirm no naming conflicts. When it’s available, you can also file an Application for Reservation of Legal Entity Name to reserve the name for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $20-$60

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

An Idaho Registered Agent (also referred to as a legal appointee or statutory agent) can be an individual resident/citizen of the state or a legally registered domestic/foreign business entity with a physical street address and regular M-F business hours. On behalf of your non-profit they receive and help process critical paperwork like tax or legal notices and so on.

That said, you can hire a 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you start a non-profit through IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) SELECT INCORPORATORS & DIRECTORS

Choose the Initial Directors

Incorporators are simply individuals who are tasked with “executing” the Articles of Incorporation (signing/filing them) with the state of Idaho. Directors on the other hand have much more responsibility if you intend on running your non-profit by board vs. through members or through volunteers alone.

You’ll need a minimum of 3 initial directors (1 for religious) to oversee the non-profit until the initial board meeting has been held in Step 7 and official directors are voted on/in. Also, remember that in Idaho your initial directors will be listed in your Articles when you file. If you need help with this part, please work with a qualified lawyer or incorporation service and bookmark the Idaho Board of Directors guide PDF.

STEP 4) DRAFT NON-PROFIT BYLAWS

Register an LLC

Bylaws are the rules/stipulations/regulations you write for how your non-profit will be governed and managed along with the many other formalities that come along with having a board of directors vs a non-profit that’s run expressly by members or volunteers. Common bylaws cover topics like:

  • How meetings are to be conducted and how often (monthly, by-monthly, yearly, etc.)
  • How new officers and directors are elected and their responsibilities.
  • How voting takes place, how disputes are handled, and how records are kept.
  • Adding/Amending bylaws (any changes must be reported to the IRS after incorporation).

If this is all new to you, use this savvy Corporate Bylaws Template which you can customize for your non-profit and get an idea of the paperwork-side of bylaws. Be sure to bookmark the statutes 30-3-21 concerning bylaws so you know the legal requirements as well.

STEP 5) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Business Licenses

Once you and your team decide it’s time to form and fully incorporate in the eyes of the law/public record, file your non-profit Articles of Incorporation with the Sec. of State either through mail or online. Information you’ll need includes:

  • The name, type, duration of existence, and statement of purpose (provisions for non-profit vs corp);
  • Complete names & addresses of registered agent (and office), incorporators, and directors.
  • Any specific provisions/bylaws set forth as part of the internal operations of your organization.
  • A stipulation of apportioning assets to any 501(c)(3) upon termination of your organization.

Filing Fee: $30 + optional $20 expedite fee

STEP 6) START A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

What we’re referring to here is a physical, often very nice looking “book” or binder where copies of all the most critical pieces of paperwork are kept and managed. And yes, that’s along with the many modern ways of tracking and compiling information on your non-profit. They’re somewhat of a corporate formality, but extremely common and highly-advised.

You can pick one up at pretty much any office supply store or online through Amazon of course, but we’re huge fans of savvy-sleek Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books, binders, blank certificates and more which you can brand for as little as $99.

STEP 7) CONDUCT INITIAL MEETING

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Also called the Organizational Meeting, the first meeting of the board of directors marks the beginning of your Idaho non-profit. In this meeting, you must decide on important matters including:

  • Non-profit bylaws approval or setting the precedent for amending them.
  • Designation of officers and committees and their responsibilities.
  • Non-profit accounting and tax period and appointment of CFO/Treasurer.
  • Approval of initial transactions and establishing a corporate bank account (Step 10).

Make sure that you prepare the minutes of the meeting; your attending board of directors will need to sign the document. If needed, check out this great Corporate Minutes Template which you can customize.

STEP 8) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

You have a social security number, right? An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is exactly like it except for business entities and non-profit organizations. The state/federal government uses it to track your financial activity, but beyond that you’ll be able to use your EIN to set up a business bank account in Step 10, hire paid-employees if applicable to your initiative, and more.

While there are a number of ways to get yours, it’s quick, easy and free of charge when you do it through the IRS Website.

STEP 9) HANDLE LICENSING & EXEMPTIONS

Small Business Taxes

First, bookmark the Starting a Nonprofit page through Idaho Non-Profits that lists the many parts/resources in this step. It’s essential your non-profit be 100% compliant in terms of not only licenses/permits, but state and federal taxes.

  • Download IRS FORM 1023 – Application for the Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3).
  • Or Form 1023-EZ – streamlined form but must be under $50k annual gross receipts and $250k in assets.
  • Bookmark the ID Attorney Gen’s Charities page and Dept. of Taxation to get more info.
  • If you need help, check out Business License Research packages that take care of some legwork.

Also, because of the countless potential between non-profits and the business community, you may want to bookmark the Boise Small Business Administration office and Idaho.gov’s Business Services.

STEP 10) SETUP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Hopefully during your initial board meeting you and your directors set aside time to really understand how important this decision is, namely where your non-profit will bank. How familiar are you with non-profit banking on the corporate level? Are you already aware of the many business services, varying fee structures, and incentives?

Don’t take this lightly. There are plenty of large and small local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions to choose from. Don’t just assume the mainstream banks are the best because they’re the biggest. There’s a lot of variables to consider here, so to get your research going check out this brief breakdown of Non-Profit Accounts to gain a better understanding.

OPTIONAL) WORK ON A FUND-READY PLAN

Write a Business Plan

It’s essential to begin refining your game plan as early to conception as possible with the prospects you intend to show the plan to always in mind: fellow non-profits and volunteer organizations.

Not to mention potential stakeholders and important members of the team like outreach/marketing directors, committee directors, and so forth. These days it’s about hammering down in a streamlined way on the core fundamentals. To learn more, check out the links below.

QUICK LINKS TO NON-PROFIT PLANNING

OPTIONAL) PUBLISH A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

If there’s already a web designer/developer on your team and your non-profit site is already published, then sweet! However, for those of you who have done everything above, so much work, but don’t have one…well, we understand it can be daunting. Should you outsource? It depends.

If you have someone that understands the big website-builder platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Wix, or SquareSpace getting started is much easier and less expensive. These days you don’t necessarily need to spend as much or hire a full-time developer to get a basic, responsive non-profit-style site published. To see what we mean check out Trey Gardner’s How to Make A Website tutorial.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

Have a reliable incorporation service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your organization and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form a non-profit organization in Idaho isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a non-profit organization in Idaho or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.