Step 1) Name your Rhode Island Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameBasically, the golden rule of naming conventions for Rhode Island Non-Profits is to ensure that the name you choose must be unique or distinct from existing business entities recorded with the Rhode Island Secretary of State. 

To ensure that the name you will use is valid, be sure to check the Rhode Island business name database.


Step 2) Elect Officers and Directors for your Rhode Island Non-Profit

Choose the Initial DirectorsFor the initial officers and directors, it is the incorporator’s responsibility to choose who he appoints. A minimum requirement of three directors is necessary to incorporate a Rhode Island Non-Profit.


Step 3) Hire a Rhode Island Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentA Rhode Island Registered Agent is a must during incorporation. The name and address of this Registered Agent will also be provided upon filing the Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation.

There are specific requirements that must be observed when hiring for this service. One, a Registered Agent can either be an individual, residing in Rhode Island, or a business entity registered with the Secretary of State to conduct operations in Rhode Island. A physical street address must also be given upon designation.

All in all, a Registered Agent Service could cost up to $160 per year. However, if you start your Non-Profit with IncFile, you get a Registered Agent Service free of charge.


Step 4) File the Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation

Register an LLCTo legally register a Non-Profit, you need to file an Articles of Incorporation. Information such as the Non-Profit’s name, duration, address, purpose/s, name and address of the Registered Agent, number of directors, name and address of each of the directors, and name and address of each of the incorporator are required.

Aside from the information mentioned, there are also certain languages that must be included with the Articles of Incorporation to be granted the 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status from the IRS. These languages include:


Step 5) Schedule the First Meeting with the Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe first meeting with the board of directors is a crucial time since this is when the following agenda will have to be decided:

Do not forget to make a minutes of the meeting, and this should be signed by all of the participants of the said gathering.


Step 6) Maintain a Corporate Records Binder

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsA Corporate Records Binder is important in any organization. This folder helps keep your files in order and within easy access each time you need to something. The Corporate Records Binder holds documents such as copies of business licenses and permits, tax reports, business plan, Corporate bylaws, and more.

Your organization can obtain a copy of a Corporate Records Binder in the local office supply store or order directly in Amazon.


Step 7) Request for an Employer Identification Number

Get an EIN for Your LLCThe Employer Identification Number is a series of nine number issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a unique identifier for a business entity. Even if you are not hiring employees at this time, you still need to obtain this identification number for business transactions.

The Employer Identification Number serves many purposes. You can get this number now through an online application in the IRS website.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountAs soon as you start a Rhode Island Non-Profit, take the time also to open a separate corporate bank account for it. A business bank account helps manage finances and cash flow better.

It is a business best practice to open a business bank account and come tax season this will come in very handy.

Recommended Resource: To help you choose the right banking account for the Non-Profit, this resource is a good guide.


Step 9) Process for Federal and Rhode Island Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesAs soon as the Rhode Island Non-Profit has been incorporated, the next step is to file for federal and state tax exemptions. Follow the steps below to begin:

  1.  File Form 1023 for Federal Tax Exemption Status

To jumpstart the process of filing federal tax exemption from the IRS, you must complete Form 1023 or the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. When completing the form, caution should be exercised since it is very lengthy and requires numerous information.

For smaller Non-Profits, there is an alternative form that can be used. Form 1023-EZ or the Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is a shorter version of Form 1023. This form also requires less information. However, only Non-Profits that have less than $250,000 total accumulated assets and less than $50,000 estimated yearly gross receipts can use Form 1023-EZ.

2. Obtain Rhode Island tax exemptions

As soon as you are granted federal tax exemption status, you can file for sales and use tax exemption. This should be done through the Division of Taxation of the Department of Revenue.

3. Other State Requirements and Reports

There are some additional state requirements and reports that need to be complied before doing any fundraising activities. These additional requirements depend on the nature of your activities and the size of the Organization. For additional information on this requirement, check the Department of Business Regulation.


Step 10) Take Care of your Rhode Island Business Licenses and Permits

Business LicensesAlthough you may be exempted from various federal and state taxes, you must also look into the required business licenses and permits needed by a Rhode Island Non-Profit. To be able to operate legally, you must comply with all deliverables for business licenses.

Recommended Resource: To get professional help in collating all the necessities to complete business license requirements, check this great package. Alternatively, the SBA also has come up with this helpful resource.


To-Do After Starting a

Rhode Island Non-Profit

The succeeding steps are an added bonus to help your Rhode Island Non-Profit flourish and become successful in the long run. These are by no means a requirement, but these steps are highly recommended best practices.

1) Create an Effective Business Plan

Write a Business PlanA business plan is not a statutory requirement for incorporation, but business experts would tell you that having a sound business plan in place is one of the best practices that contributes to the success of your entire organization.

Whether a business plan is hundred pages long or a single page of succinct document, it should basically summarize what your organization is about, its goals and objectives, and a plan of action to achieve all these. The quick links below should start you with a solid business plan.

Quick Link to Writing a Business Plan


2) Create a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteA business website tells the story of your organization, shows business credibility, is a marketing tool, is your online storefront, and more.

Through WordPress, you can easily create a business website that aptly represents your organization. Bluehost has a one-click WordPress installation tool that allows for easy and convenient installation.

Resource for Getting Started: This instructional guide on how to make a business website should have you started in no time.

This Rhode Island Non-Profit organization formation guide is for informational purposes only. Any questions on the legalities involved in starting a Rhode Island Non-Profit should be directed to a business lawyer.

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