Step 1) Make a Name for Your Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameThe first step to form your North Dakota nonprofit is to decide on a unique name which is not used by existing businesses or nonprofits in the state. Your business name doesn’t have to contain certain words or abbreviations.

For further information about the restrictions and provisions on naming your North Dakota nonprofit, you can check out the NDCC 10-33-10. For name availability, use the business name search tool provided by the North Dakota Secretary of State


Step 2) Appoint Officers and Directors for Your Non-Profit

Choose the Initial DirectorsThe state of North Dakota requires nonprofits to appoint at least three directors before their board. Apart from this, it is also mandatory that all directors are 18 years old above, a resident of North Dakota and are all individuals.


Step 3) Designate a North Dakota Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentNonprofits, like businesses are required to designate and maintain a North Dakota Registered Agent to receive and accept documents and mails on behalf of the organization. Based on state requirements, an entity or an organization cannot serve as its own agent, thus, the need to hire an agent.

Your North Dakota Registered Agent must be a resident of the state, have an office or physical address and must be available during office hours. You can hire a professional North Dakota Registered Agent for $160 every year, but this is free if you incorporate your Nonprofit with IncFile.


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

Register an LLCNonprofits are still required to file for Articles of Incorporation before the North Dakota Secretary of State. You need to prepare a lot of information when filling-out your Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation.

Also, the state does not automatically grant a nonprofit a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service so you need to apply for this together with specific languages which are as follows:


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

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe first meeting also called the organizational meeting among the board of directors is scheduled to discuss the following actions:

The minutes of the board meeting must be recorded and signed by the board of directors.For safekeeping, place it in your corporate records book.


Step 6) Set-up a Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsA Corporate Records Book or a Corporate Records Binder is still needed even if you’re a nonprofit. While it’s definitely not a mandatory requirement, for the good of your nonprofit, it’s best that you have one.

Your Company Records Book will enable you to store your paperworks, minutes of meetings, forms, tax registrations, permits and licenses and a lot more. You can purchase your binder at the local office supply store, or you can place a direct order through Amazon.


Step 7) Obtain an EIN for Your North Dakota Organization

Get an EIN for Your LLCAn Employer Identification Number is a 9-series ID similar to a Social Security Number in individuals. The EIN serves many purpose,which is why it’s a mandatory requirement in all states. You can obtain the EIN for free at  the IRS website.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountSeparating your personal and business finances is a must if you want to stay afloat in the industry. For healthy financial management, you have to open a business bank account. This will enable you to keep everything in check and you’ll be able to track your expenses efficiently.

Recommended Resource: Check out this roundup to help you decided which type of business banking accounts is best for you.


Step 9) Apply for Federal and State Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesTo be awarded a tax exempt status by the federal and North Dakota government, follow the steps below:

  1. File your 1023 federal tax exemption form

Fill-out your Form 1023 or the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. You will be asked a lot of questions about your nonprofit. This includes your history, nonprofit finances, organizational structure and even your policies, intended activities and more.

If you fall under the small nonprofit category, you can apply and file the Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It ‘s a simpler form unlike the Form 1023.

Eligibility requirements include a yearly income of less than $50,000 and assets of lower than $250,000. Check the IRS website for more information about these forms.

        2. Get your North Dakota state tax exemptions

Once you receive your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, you are also given a tax-free status by North Dakota. For more information, you can check out North Dakota’s Tax Agency website.

        3. Comply with additional requirements

Nonprofits also have additional requirements. If you intend to conduct fundraising activities, you may have to register before the state based on your organizational activities and size. Take a closer look at the fundraising and registration requirements for North Dakota nonprofits.


Step 10) Get Your North Dakota Business Licenses

Business LicensesBusiness licenses and permits are mandatory when starting a nonprofit in North Dakota. Without your business licenses you will not be able to operate your nonprofit in the state.

Recommended Resource: If you need assistance in looking for the business licenses applicable to your nonprofit, here is a great package. You can also use this resource roundup provided by the SBA.


To-Do After Starting a

North Dakota Non-Profit

You’re now officially considered a North Dakota nonprofit! But it’s not over yet because the process doesn’t end with the 10 steps mentioned above, there are additional requirements that you need to comply. Below are two of them.

1) Write a Solid Business Plan

Write a Business PlanA business plan is not a requirement in the state of North Dakota, but it is highly recommended that you write one for your nonprofit.

Even if you’re not doing business, a business plan will still help your organization thrive because it will enable you to predict future issues, track your growth and a lot more. If you need assistance, you can use the following resources:

Writing a Business Plan Quick-Links


2) Create a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteRelay your North Dakota nonprofit’s message to larger audience by building a business website. WordPress is a free platform that you use to make a website in minutes.

If you want another website building software, you can use Bluehost which has a one-click automatic WordPress installation and a 24 hour customer support will help you create the best website for your nonprofit.

Resource for Getting Started: Learn how to build a business website,  check out this step-by-step guide to help you.

This is only an informational guide on starting a nonprofit in North Dakota. It is not a replacement of legal advice and is not a legal document. For more information on starting a nonprofit consult with your lawyer.

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