Step 1) Choose a Name for Your Minnesota Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameA business name should be chosen when forming a Non-Profit in Minnesota. The Minnesota Non-Profit name should not be a duplicate or closely similar to an existing business’ name registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State.

To double check for the name’s validity, use the Minnesota business name search database.


Step 2) Elect the Initial Directors for Your Minnesota Non-Profit

Choose the Initial DirectorsWhen starting a Minnesota Non-Profit, the incorporators should be of legal age. The same requirement holds true for the Minnesota Non-Profit officers and directors.

It must be that most of the directors should be of legal age and a real person, not another organization or Corporation. A minimum of three initial directors should be appointed.


Step 3) Get a Registered Agent for Your Minnesota Non-Profit

Choose a Registered AgentFor compliance with state-required policies, your Non-Profit must retain the services of a Minnesota Registered Agent. This individual or business entity is in charge of accepting a service of process notice and other legal documents.

A Registered Agent in Minnesota can be an individual or alternatively, a business entity legally registered to conduct business in the state. A physical street address in the state will have to be provided as well. For guaranteed reliable Registered Agent services, Rocket Lawyer can help you.


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

Register an LLCTo legalize your Non-Profit, you must file an Articles of Incorporation. This form contains the standard information needed to form a Non-Profit in Minnesota, but it does not contain the details or specific languages to obtain the 501(c)(3) tax exemption status from the Internal Revenue Service.

To facilitate this tax exemption, you should include the following specific languages along with your Articles of Incorporation:


Step 5) Schedule an Initial Meeting with Your Minnesota Non-Profit Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAs soon as the directors are appointed, an organizational meeting should be immediately scheduled. For this initial meeting, a number of agenda components will have to be decided:

The minutes of the meeting should be signed by the attendees, and the document should be filed in the Corporate Records Binder.


Step 6) Maintain a Corporate Records Binder

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsA Corporate Records Binder is an important file organizer that keeps all your Non-Profit records and documents in one safe place. From your Minnesota Non-Profit registration documents, business permits and licenses, minutes of the meeting, Non-Profit bylaws, tax reports, and other paperwork involved in the operations of your Non-Profit.

There are many sources to a Corporate Records Binder. You can buy in-store at your local office supply shop or order through Amazon.


Step 7) Get an Employer Identification Number for Your Non-Profit

Get an EIN for Your LLCA nine-digit series of numbers, an Employer Identification Number is a business entity’s unique identifier, and is basically required in almost all kinds of transactions when operating a business.

An online application at the IRS website for your Minnesota Non-Profit EIN is the easiest and most convenient way to obtain one for free.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountAs a new Minnesota Non-Profit, keeping your personal and business finances separate is very important. The best way to do this is to open a new business checking account.

To find the best bank to start a checking account with, do some research. You can always use the bank you keep your personal account with, just be sure to keep them 100% separate.


Step 9) Apply for Federal and Minnesota Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesEven if you are applying to be a 501(c)(3) organization, you will still be registering for Non-Profit taxes. The process for Minnesota Non-Profit tax registration and exemption involves several steps. For the application of tax exemption, the following steps should be taken.

1) Apply for Federal Tax Exemption

To avail of the federal tax exemption of the IRS, you must file a Form 1023 or the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

This form is lengthy and requires detailed information about your business and its incorporators, among other vital information of your Non-Profit. Instructions on how to fill out these information requirements are also contained in the form.

For smaller Non-Profits, those with projected combined annual receipts lower than $50,000 and with assets below $250,000, Form 1023-EZ or the Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code can be used. This is a shorter and more streamlined version of Form 1023.

2) Apply for Minnesota Tax Exemption

You are automatically exempted from the Minnesota state corporate income tax as soon as you receive a letter of IRS federal determination that qualifies your Non-Profit as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempted organization. For additional tax exemptions in the state of Minnesota, you can check its Department of Revenue website.

3) Additional Reports and Registration Requirements

Your Non-Profit may be required to comply with other reports and forms and registration requirements based on its size and the nature of activities. For full details on these requirements, refer to the Minnesota Attorney General’s office.


Step 10) Handle Your Minnesota Business Licenses & Regulations

Business LicensesBesides business taxes, another important thing to take care of are your business licenses and regulations. This is essential for your business to be legally operating in the eyes of the state.

Keep in mind that these requirements will vary depending on your state and industry, so be sure to do your research. Visit the SBA website for more information or have professionals find the specific requirements for you through this reliable service.


To-Do After Starting a

Minnesota Non-Profit

Now that you have followed the steps above, you are an official Non-Profit organization in the state of Minnesota. Other than those 10 steps that are based on state guidelines, here are 2 additional steps based on best practices for starting a successful organization. Not required, but highly recommended.

1) Plan Your Minnesota Non-Profit for Success

Write a Business PlanA business plan is a highly recommended document when you start a Non-Profit in Minnesota and with good reason.

This document serves as the ultimate blueprint of your Non-Profit, setting goals, forecasting financial conditions, outlining steps on how to achieve business goals, coming up with contingency steps on how to counter business challenges and more.

To begin writing your business plan, here are some useful resources to refer to.

Quick Links to Writing a Business Plan


2) Build a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteThe next step when starting a business in Minnesota is to build a professional and presentable website. This will give you added credibility and help future customers find out more about what you sell.

Although building a website was difficult to do in the early 2000’s, nowadays you can use a simple tool like WordPress to build a customizable website. It is free, customizable, and easy to get started. Learn more about WordPress here.

This guide is an information article on starting a Non-Profit organization in Minnesota. It is by no means a legal document or advice. For questions and legal advice on Minnesota Non-Profit organizations or starting a new business, you should consult the services of a business lawyer.

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