Step 1) Make a Name for Your Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameThe first step to form your nonprofit is to think of a unique name fit for its message and branding. There’s no rule when it comes to naming your nonprofit, however, you need to include one of the following words after your nonprofit name: association, company, foundation, institute and union. You may also use abbreviations instead like “co.”, “inc.” and “ltd.”

Your chosen nonprofit name should be distinguishable and should not be used by any other nonprofit or business. To check for name availability, you can use the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s business name search tool.


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

Choose the Initial DirectorsIn Oklahoma, the state requires nonprofits to atleast have three incorporators to be able to form a nonprofit. You also have to have a minimum of one director for your Oklahoma nonprofit. Your director/s as well as your appointed officers should be a resident of Oklahoma.

Once you’ve designated positions, you must include them in your certificate of incorporation, including their complete name/s and mailing address.  


Step 3) Designate an Oklahoma Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentEven if you’re not doing business, an Oklahoma Registered Agent is still a requirement to operate your nonprofit. A registered agent is a professional who accepts service of process notices, legal documents and important mails on your startup’s behalf.

Unlike other states, in Oklahoma, you can act as your own nonprofit’s agent. However, it’s better if you hire a professional agent for your nonprofit because they’re more well-versed on the functions that they have to fulfill. You can hire an Oklahoma 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 LLCBefore you can fully operate your nonprofit, you must file your nonprofit Articles of Incorporation before the Oklahoma Secretary of State. Before filling out the form, you must prepare the needed information to avoid committing mistakes with your entries.

It is also important to note that the state of Oklahoma does not automatically grant a nonprofit a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, therefore, you need to apply and process this so you will not be required to pay for your taxes as a nonprofit. Upon filing, you need to include the following languages:


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

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe first board of directors meeting is also known as the organizational meeting and one of the most important meetings that you can ever hold as a nonprofit. During the first meeting, the following agenda will be discussed:

Prepare the minutes of the meeting and have it signed by all your board of directors. It must be recorded and kept in your Corporate Records Book for safekeeping.


Step 6) Set-up a Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsKeeping a Corporate  Records Book or a Corporate Records Binder is not a mandatory requirement in the state of Oklahoma but it is highly recommended that you have one for your business.

Your Corporate Records Book is where you’ll keep all your legal documents, paperwork, minutes of your meetings, forms, tax registrations and a lot more. Buy your Corporate Records at the local office supply store or you can place an order through Amazon.


Step 7) Obtain an EIN for Your Oklahoma Organization

Get an EIN for Your LLCAn Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a 9-series identification number that enables the IRS to monitor your business activities and taxes. An EIN is similar to a Social Security Number for individuals.

Since the EIN serves a variety of purpose, you need to obtain this as soon as you can. Great news is, it’s completely for free so you can get it anytime you want at the IRS website.


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountTaking the initiative to separate your personal and business finances is an excellent move to prevent yourself from mixing them together. The best way to separate your finances is to open a business bank account in a credible financial institution. By doing so, you are promoting healthy financial management for your Oklahoma nonprofit.

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 given a tax exempt status by the federal and Oklahoma government, the steps below must be followed to get approved:

  1.  File your 1023 federal tax exemption form

The first thing to do is obtain the Form 1023 or the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and fill it out correctly. The Form 1023 is a comprehensive form that will ask for a lot of information including the history of your nonprofit, nonprofit finances, organizational structure and even your policies, intended activities and may more. After completing the form, you can send your form in this address:

Internal Revenue Service

P.O. Box 12192

Covington, KY 41012-0192

On the otherhand, if your overall income in a year is less than $50,000 and you have assets of lower than $250,000, you will qualify in the small nonprofit category and 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 instead. It’s a simpler form than the Form 1023.

The filing fee is $850 for the form 1023 ($400 for IRS Form 1023-EZ).

2. Obtain your Oklahoma state tax exemptions

After receiving your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, you will automatically be given a tax-free status by the state of Oklahoma. However, you may have to file a Form 512-E every year. You can also qualify for other tax exemption in sales, property and a lot more. To know more about this, you can visit  Oklahoma’s tax agency.

3. Comply with additional requirements

Nonprofits also have additional requirement. 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.

If your nonprofit conducts activities such as fundraisings or funds solicitations, you have to register before the state of Oklahoma to be allowed to hold these organization activities. The Oklahoma Secretary of State has a Charitable Organization packet prepared to give you an idea of the forms and requirements.


Step 10) Get Your Oklahoma Business Licenses

Business LicensesAlthough you’re a nonprofit, you still need to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your organization to be allowed to legally operate in the state of Oklahoma. Applicable business licenses and permits are based on the size, nature and type of business you’re running.

Recommended Resource: For professional assistance when compiling for your business licenses, here is a great package that you can take advantage of. Make use of this resource roundup provided by the SBA as well.


To-Do After Starting an

Oklahoma Non-Profit

You’re now officially an Oklahoma Nonprofit! You should give yourself a pat in the back. But before you proceed, you must create the following to make sure that you are able to achieve your objectives or goals efficiently.

1) Write a Solid Business Plan

Write a Business PlanA business plan is not a requirement to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma, but it will definitely help you achieve your goals and objectives as an organization.

It’s a blueprint that will guide you as your build and operate your nonprofit. To help you get started in writing a solid business plan, here are some resources that you can use.

Writing a Business Plan Quick-Links


2) Create a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteTo help people understand the mission and goals of your Oklahoma nonprofit, it is vital that you create a business website.

Good thing there are platforms like WordPress which allows you to do so in just minutes. Bluehost is also a great software that features a one-click automatic WordPress installation and a 24 hour customer support tool.

Resource for Getting Started: To start building your business website,  check out this step-by-step guide to help you.

The article is only an informational/instructional guide and should not be considered a legal advice or a legal document. If you have any questions on the legalities of starting a nonprofit in Oklahoma, you should consult your lawyer for professional legal advice.

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