STEP 1) SELECT A NAME FOR YOUR NON-PROFIT

Choose a Business NameThe first step to forming a non-profit in Alaska is to name it, which is a smidgen more difficult than in other states. Let’s start with statutes.

  • (a) The name may not contain a word/phrase that indicates or implies that it’s organized for a purpose other than one or more of the purposes contained in the Articles of Incorporation.
  • (b) Must be distinguishable on the records of the department from the name of any other organized entity and from a reserved or registered name. The department may adopt regulations under AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act) to implement this subsection.

Unique and not misleading. Once you have that part handled, use the CBPL search function to look for naming conflicts until you know you have a name that works. Next comes this Business Name Registration and Application forms that both have $25 filing fees. Read through them and take the necessary steps. Also, If needed you can file a Business Name Reservation form.

Filing Fee: $25

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered AgentAs per section 10.20.026, “A corporation shall continuously maintain in the state a registered office which may be, but need not be, the same as its place of business, and a registered agent. The registered agent may be either an individual resident of the state whose business office is the same as the registered office, or a domestic or foreign corporation authorized to transact business in the state whose business office is the same as the registered office.”

So you can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, find someone on your team to be the agent, or get a qualified agent free when incorporating a non-profit through services like IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) SELECT INCORPORATORS & DIRECTORS

Choose the Initial Directors

Chances are you’re unfamiliar with the formal nature of non-profit corporations. That’s okay, choosing to govern by a board of directors has tons of upsides vs. being member/volunteer-run. The first being that you get a team! Now incorporators are the individuals who execute the Articles of Incorporation in Step 5 – sign & file. As long as they’re human and 19 or older you’re good to go.

Directors though are the governors and managers of the organization. Alaska requires you have a minimum of three initial directors to oversee the non-profit until official directors can be voted in during your initial meeting in Step 7. If this is confusing don’t be afraid to work with a lawyer/incorporation provider.

STEP 4) DRAFT NON-PROFIT BYLAWS

Register an LLCIn the words of the state, “The board of directors shall adopt the initial bylaws of a corporation. The power to adopt, alter, amend or repeal bylaws is vested in the board of directors unless it is reserved to the members by the articles of incorporation. The bylaws may contain provisions for the regulation and management of the affairs of the corporation not inconsistent with law or the articles of incorporation.

  • Management, procedures, and responsibilities of the board.
  • Details on each office – Pres., Secretary, Treasurer, etc.
  • How to go about Adding/Amending bylaws,
  • How to handle other corporate formalities required in Alaska.

To get started, check out this savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself. Also, here’s a link to Basics in Non-Profit Governance which you may find helpful.

STEP 5) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Business LicensesFirst, please read through/print out sections 151, 153, and 156 within the statutes so you’re thoroughly informed about the Articles of Incorporation (they have come with instructions) and how to file them with the state.

Don’t attempt to file early or before you’re ready and have all the required information – name, purpose, registered agent, and so forth, not to mention your initial board of directors.

Filing Fee: $50

STEP 6) START A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

What we’re referring to here is a physical, often very nice looking book, folder or binder where copies of critical pieces of paperwork are kept and managed. And yes, that’s along with the many modern ways of tracking and compiling information on your non-profit. They’re somewhat of a corporate formality, but extremely common and highly-advised.

You can pick one up at pretty much any office supply store or online through Amazon of course, but we’re huge fans of savvy-sleek Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books, binders, blank certificates and more which you can brand for as little as $99.

STEP 7) CONDUCT INITIAL MEETING

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsFor your initial meeting assemble incorporators/directors and get ready to establish the foundation of your non-profit. Be sure to record “minutes” of the meeting and all attendees and have it signed by directors for your records book. Topics will vary but should include:

  • Voting on the appointment of critical officers;
  • Voting on and approving/amending bylaws;
  • Establishing a tax year as well as an accounting period;
  • Approving initial transactions, committees, and more.

If you found the bylaws template useful, check out a similar Corporate Minutes Template you can also customize and use to provide initial structure until you and your board get the hang of things should it be necessary.

STEP 8) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a 9-digit number required by all business and non-profit entities under law in order to effectively track their financial activity. Think of it as a social security number for your non-profit, but it will also make it possible to legally hire paid employees if needed and open up a bank account in Step 10.

Almost every transaction your non-profit engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.

STEP 9) HANDLE LICENSING & EXEMPTIONS

Small Business Taxes

Now’s the point to ensure your non-profit is 100% compliant in terms of not only licenses/permits, but state and federal taxes. You should be able to apply for tax exempt status now that the corporation is established.

Also, because of the nature of Alaska itself you should consider booking the Anchorage Small Business Admin and Dept. of Corp’s Business Licensing pages because there’s plenty of financial resources and services to leverage.

STEP 10) SETUP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

As a non-profit you’re looking for financial utility and solutions that are geared for your needs – low fees, waved expenses, great online banking options, good interest rates (if your non-profit maintains higher account balances) and other valuable services.

Take some time to shop around at local, state and national banks/credit unions until you find the best option. Also, if you haven’t already, consider appointing a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who’s knowledgeable and can help. If needed, check out this brief breakdown of Non-Profit Accounts to gain a better understanding and be sure to keep your non-profit account 100% separate from all others.

OPTIONAL) WORK ON A FUND-READY PLAN

Write a Business Plan

No matter what stage of non-profit development you’re in, if you plan on going “all the way” then you’re going to need to get down to some basics and plan accordingly. No serious initiative gets to extreme heights of impact without a game plan. That’s the honest truth.

What does this mean? It means a presentation/fund-ready plan that focuses on core fundamentals for the purpose of showing VC-types, lending institutions, potential partners, volunteers, donators, etc., and these days opportunities like Crowdfunding platforms. Just to name a few. Don’t be shy, use our free resources below to your non-profit’s advantage.

QUICK LINKS TO NON-PROFIT PLANNING

  • Our free email-based Business Plan Course is designed to take you smoothly through the process step-by-step.

OPTIONAL) PUBLISH A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

Start small, simple, and responsive then build over time only as your non-profit needs grow. Don’t spend $4000 on a site when you have no funding. Ideally, use volunteers and funding to build from a basic landing page or agency-style site into something much more extensive.

It’s about marketing potential. It’s about brand expansion. It’s about amazing impact and giving search engines a way to show your project or initiative to the world. If this is your first web design rodeo, consider learning the basics of How to Make a Website through the team on WebsiteSetup.org.

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.

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form a non-profit organization in Alaska isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a non-profit organization in Alaska or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.