Step 1) Name Your Ohio Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameNaming conventions should be observed when picking a name for your Non-Profit. The ORC 1702-05 contains the provisions that must be followed when naming your Ohio Non-Profit.

In addition to the provisions in the Ohio Revised Code, the name you come up for your Non-Profit should be distinguishable from any business entity registered with the Secretary of State.

You can double check the name you’ve chosen using the Ohio business name database tool. If the name is available, you can file for a name reservation.


Step 2) Elect Officers and Initial Directors for your Ohio Non-Profit

Choose the Initial DirectorsTo set things in motion, the incorporator must elect an initial number of officers and directors for the Ohio Non-Profit. A minimum of three directors must be elected to meet the state requirement.


Step 3) Elect an Ohio Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentThe Ohio Registered Agent is an important component to the success of your business operations. There are statutory requirements to be observed when hiring an agent.

The Registered Agent can either be an individual or a business entity duly registered to operate in Ohio. A physical street address should be provided by your Registered Agent. For individual agents, a P.O. Box can be provided in lieu of the physical address, but the individual must validate that he is a resident of the state.

Now, when you hire a Registered Agent, about $160 per year is required to retain its services; however, you can get an Ohio Registered Agent for free if you incorporate your Ohio Non-Profit with IncFile.


Step 4) File your Ohio Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation

Register an LLCTo legally enlist your Non-Profit as a legal entity, you must file the Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.

Aside from the standard information like name and address and the purpose of your Non-Profit, there are also some languages you need to include to obtain the 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service. These languages include:


Step 5) Schedule an Initial Meeting with the Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe initial meeting is an organizational meeting with several key aspects to be taken up and decided. These include the following:

The minutes of the meeting should accurately record the actions made during the initial meeting and should be signed by the attendees.


Step 6) Maintain a Corporate Records Binder

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsA Corporate Records Binder is used as a safekeeping organizer for all legal documents required in the formation of your Ohio Non-Profit. Documents such as Incorporation documents, tax returns and reports, copies of business registrations and licenses, etc. are all filed here.

Visit the local office supply chain shop in your area for a Corporate Records Binder or have one shipped right to your door through Amazon.


Step 7) Request an Employer Identification Number for your Ohio Non-Profit

Get an EIN for Your LLCAn Ohio federal Employer Identification Number must be obtained even if you are operating as a Non-Profit. This is an important identifier for your Non-Profit, and it is used when you open a separate bank account for your business.

You need an EIN to operate a business legally. For fast and stress-free processing of your EIN, you can file for an online application through the IRS free of charge.


Step 8) Begin a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountIn order to protect the owner’s personal finances when starting an Ohio Non-Profit, a separate business bank account should be opened for business finances. This also helps the Non-Profit function properly and efficiently.

Recommended Resource: To find the best business banking accounts, you can refer to this resource roundup.


Step 9) Process Federal and State Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesThere is a three-step process every Ohio Non-Profit entrepreneur has to go through to obtain the necessary federal and state tax exemptions. Here are the steps you must follow:

  1. File Form 1023 to Obtain Federal Tax Exemptions

For federal tax exemptions, Form 1023 should be filed. This Application for the Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is a very lengthy form, composed of several pages of information with regard to your business and its owners. Caution should be exercised when filling out the entries as well as a careful review of the instructions.

An alternate Form 1023-EZ can be used by smaller Non-Profits. This Streamlined Application for the Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is much simpler and shorter than Form 1023.

Smaller Non-Profits with project total annual income not exceeding $50,000 and with estimated total assets of less than $250,000 can qualify to use Form 1023-EZ.

  1. Register for Ohio State Tax Exemptions

After federal tax exemption status has been confirmed with the Internal Revenue Service, you can then apply for Ohio state tax exemptions. Visit Ohio’s Department of Taxation to obtain more information on state tax exemption requirements.

  1. Added State Reports and Registration Requirements

There may be other state reports and registration requirements that your business must comply, depending on its size and nature of activities when you start fundraising and charity events. Be sure to double check these requirements as well.


Step 10) Take Care of Ohio Business Licenses and Regulations

Business LicensesBusiness licenses are a part and parcel of every Ohio business even for Non-Profits. Being a Non-Profit does not exempt you from certain licenses, so make it your business to look into the requirements and obtain the necessary licenses.

Recommended Resource: Considering that there are several licenses and permits in Ohio, you can employ the help of professionals to find all these information for you. This comprehensive package should be helpful. Or, this resource roundup by SBA can also be a good source.


To-Do After Starting an

Ohio Non-Profit

After the ten steps above are accomplished, you can follow the two steps below to ensure that you can implement some best practice guidelines to your Ohio Non-Profit.

1) Create a Strong Business Plan

Write a Business PlanCreate a strong business plan, so you can get off on a strong start. Every business aims to become successful, and the business plan is the very tool to accomplish that.

Writing a business plan can be a little intimidating, but it is not impossible to write even for a newbie entrepreneur. To get started on a strong business plan, the resources below are a good reference.

Quick Links on How to Write a Business Plan


2) Create a Business Website 

Build a Business WebsiteA business website both promotes your business’ brand and stands as an effective marketing tool if used appropriately. With WordPress, you can easily customize a business website according to your needs. Use Bluehost to help you install WordPress with just one click.

Resource for Getting Started: This simple-to-follow guide can get you started on designing a professional-looking website.

Note that this is a guide on starting an Ohio Non-Profit organization. This is not a legal document nor is it a legal advice. For the process of starting a Non-Profit in Ohio or any specific questions about starting a business in general, seek a business lawyer’s expert advice.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

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