Step 1) Choose a Name for Your Non-Profit

Choose a Business NameWhen it comes to forming a Non-Profit in South Carolina, the first order of things is to choose a name. As with all naming conventions in businesses, your South Carolina Non-Profit name should be distinguishable from any existing business within the state.

To check if your chosen name is still available, you can perform a business name search. It would make much more sense if you at least prepare at least two names to save you the trouble of thinking of another one in case the first option is already taken.


Step 2) Choose the Officers and Directors for Your Non-Profit

Choose the Initial DirectorsAs per state law compliance when starting a South Carolina Non-Profit, you should choose the officers and directors of your organization. At least three directors are required, and they do not necessarily have to be residents of South Carolina.

Aside from the directors, you also need to select a president, clerk, and a treasurer for your organization.

These South Carolina Non-Profit officers and directors will be your counterparts in helping operate the organization when it becomes an official non-profit entity in the state.


Step 3) Prepare Your Bylaws and Incorporate Your South Carolina Non-Profit

Register an LLCAs there are numerous requirements when preparing bylaws, incorporating, and forming a Non-Profit in South Carolina, the easiest way to process all these is with Rocket Lawyer. Once you employ their services, they will take care of the whole process for you with just a few questions.

The third step in registering a South Carolina Non-Profit organization is to file a Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of the State of South Carolina. The articles of information contains the following information:

For further information on filing your Articles of Incorporation, check SCC §33-31-202.

To make a South Carolina non-profit corporation, do the following. You can fill out an article of incorporation form for non-profit organizations on the website of the Secretary of State. Take note that a separate 501(c)(3) Attachment can also be found on the website. Do not forget to download and fill out this too together with your article of incorporation form. The 501(c)(3) form is needed so you can avail of the IRS’ tax-exempt status.

For further details on the IRS’ requirements for filing of tax exemption, read IRS Publication 557 – Tax-Exempt Status for your Organization found in the IRS website.

Make sure to fill out all the necessary information on your Articles of Incorporation form and the 501(c)(3) attachment, and file it according to the instructions given.

Preparing Bylaws

Create bylaws that adhere to the stipulations of the South Carolina law. These bylaws outline your corporation’s rules and regulations with relation to electing directors and officers, conducting meetings, and other corporate operations as mandated by state law.

Bylaws should be created before an Articles of Organization is filed. It will serve as your internal manual and does not need to be filed together with your other forms.


Step 4) Hold a First Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsAt your non-profit corporation’s first meeting, which is called the organizational meeting, together with your board of directors, a number of agenda will be tackled:

Take down minutes of the meeting and save it for recordkeeping when the meeting is done.


Step 5) Start a Corporate Records Binder for Important Information

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsWhen you file for a South Carolina Non-Profit registration, you need to buy a Corporate Records Binder.

This Corporate Binder will serve as the holder for all your important documents in the organization. From your EIN, bylaws, minutes of the meeting, to your Articles of Organization, everything will be placed here for recordkeeping. A binder is available through Amazon.


Step 6) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountAs you start South Carolina Non-Profit, it is very important to keep your personal and business finances separate by opening a business bank account. This keeps your personal liability at a minimum and everything separate in the eyes of the law.

There are many options including Chase and Bank of America, so do your research to find out which is right for your South Carolina Non-Profit. Check out this review for our favorite options.


Step 7) Get Your Federal and State Tax Exemptions

Small Business TaxesAs soon as you have formed your non-profit corporation, the next step is to get the federal as well as South Carolina state tax exemptions. Follow the steps below to avail of the tax-exempt status:

Process Form 1023 federal tax exemption application form

IRS Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code should be completely filled out and filed.

This detailed form asks for every little detail of your non-profit organization such as organizational structure, operations, policies, activities, and more. For a walkthrough of how to complete Form 1023, Anthony Mancuso of Nolo provides a guide here: How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation.

Form 1023-EZ, Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is a much shorter version that can be filed online. However, only non-profit organizations with project annual receipts lower than $50,000 and total properties lower than $250,000 are qualified to use this form.

For details on Form 1023 and 1023-EZ filing requirements, visit the IRS website.

Obtain Your South Carolina State Tax Exemptions

As soon as your application for the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is approved by the IRS, you will no longer have to pay for corporate income tax in South Carolina. For additional exemptions from sales, and use and property tax, as well as other state taxes in South Carolina, go to the Department of Revenue website.

Other State Reporting and Registration Requirements

If you plan on doing fundraising events, registration may be required as per the organization’s activities and its size, so make sure to visit the Division of Public Charities, Secretary of State to learn more about non-profit organizations’ requirements for registration.


Step 8) Handle Your South Carolina Business Licenses & Regulations

Business LicensesAfter officially registering your business in South Carolina and taking care of your tax obligations, you will need to figure out which license or permits you will need to operate legally.

This step depends on the location of your business and the industry, so do your research. To get started, either visit the SBA website to learn more or have professionals handle all research on your behalf with this reliable service.


Step 9) Plan Your South Carolina Non-Profit for Success (Optional)

Write a Business PlanBeing a non-profit organization does not exempt you from writing a business plan. Your organization is still a business, and careful planning and execution of business goals are as important.

A business plan allows you to set targets, minimizes pitfalls, and achieve goals while moving towards success. While writing a business plan is not the easiest of tasks, below are some resources to help you.

Writing a Business Plan Quick-Links


Step 10) Build a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteThe next step when starting a business in South Carolina is to build a website for it. This gives added credibility and allows potential customers to find you.

Although building a website was difficult in the early 2000’s, now you can just use a customizable and free tool like WordPress. Learn more about WordPress and see how to get started at this step-by-step guide.

Be advised that this guide is not in any way a legal document. It’s mean to serve as an informational material and should be treated as such. If you wish to have an in-depth understanding of how to start a Non-Profit Organization in South Carolina or starting a new business in general, talk to your lawyer.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

Have a reliable incorporation service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your organization and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

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