STEP 1) Secure Your Non-Profit's Name

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your corporate brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in Wyoming, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. Be sure to double-check the Wyoming Naming Rules for corporations before filing paperwork.

To check for naming conflicts, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state, which is pretty straightforward. Once you’re ready you can then register the name with the state in Step 5. If needed, file an Application for Reservation of Corp. Name with the Sec. of State that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $50

STEP 2) Appoint a Registered Agent

Choose a Registered Agent

A Registered Agent is an individual citizen of Wyoming or recognized/registered business entity in the state with a street address (typically non-P.O. Box) responsible for receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents on your non-profit’s behalf like state filings, legal notices, important tax forms, etc.

That said, you can hire a third party service and pay up to $160 a year or get an qualified registered agent free of charge when you Incorporate with IncFile or Incorporate.com.

STEP 3) Appoint Incorporators & Directors

Choose the Initial Directors

An incorporator is the individual(s) responsible for executing the Articles of Incorporation (Step 5) with the state which declares the basics of your entity for the public record (including your brand name). Wyoming only requires one. Then you’ll need to appoint at least 1 director that oversees the non-profit until your initial meeting (Step 7) where official directors can be voted on.

This part can be somewhat complex because of the legal/tax nature of non-profits which is why it’s a good idea to either hire the best non-profit lawyer you can afford or work with professional service providers. They can help you understand the ins and outs of choosing initial directors and so much more.

STEP 4) Draft Non-Profit Bylaws

Register an LLCThese are the operations and procedures that will govern your non-profit organization. They’re not required by law, but as your internal rule book your non-profit can’t efficiently operate without them. Issues covered should include:

  • How to hold meetings, elect officers, and new directors.
  • Keeping and managing your non-profit records and financials.
  • Adding/Amending Bylaws.
  • How to handle other corporate formalities required in Wyoming.

To get started, you can leverage this Bylaws Template to craft a customized bylaws document but these will definitely change over time. Thankfully you’ll have a records book (Step 6) to keep track!

Step 5) File Articles of Incorporation

How to Choose a Business Structure

Once you and your team decide it’s time to form the initial corporation, either use Wyoming’s Online Portal to file your non-profit Articles of Incorporation, or submit them via mail to the Sec. of State. Info you’ll need includes:

  • The name, type, duration of existence, and statement of purpose (provisions for non-profit vs corp);
  • Complete names & addresses of registered agent (and office), incorporators, and directors.
  • Any specific provisions/bylaws set forth as part of the internal operations of your organization.
  • A stipulation of apportioning assets to any 501(c)(3) upon termination of your organization.

Filing Fee: $25

STEP 6) Get a Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

What is a corporate records book? It’s where you store and keep a ledger of critical hard copy paperwork for your non-profit. A very common practice – not mandatory officially, but you won’t find a serious company or non-profit without them.

As the name of the book implies, it’s a record holder of your Wyoming registration documents, licenses and permits, minutes of meetings, etc. You can pick one up at a nearby office supply store, get a great deal ordering online through Amazon, or get a Corporate Kit which includes gorgeous records books/binders you can brand for as little as $99.

STEP 7) Conduct Initial Meeting

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

This is your first official meeting with your non-profit board of directors! Be sure to record “minutes” of the meeting and have it signed by all attending directors then add it to your records book. Here’s a Minutes Template you can customize and use to get the ball rolling. Topics should cover:

  • Appointing initial non-profit officers;
  • Approving/Amending your initial bylaws;
  • Setting up a tax year as well as an accounting period/appoint CFO;
  • Approve initial transactions and more depending on the nature of your non-profit.

Step 8) Get an EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

If you want your non-profit to be compliant with the federal government, get through tax season smoothly, be able to legally hire team members to help with your efforts, and set up a business bank account…you must have an EIN or Employer Identification Number.

Think of it as a social security number for your organization. To get yours the easiest way is to submit a request through the IRS Website.

Step 9) Handle Licensing & Exemption

Small Business TaxesBy now you should be ready to apply for exemptions under state and federal laws and in the process take care of any remaining licensing/permit issues. If you don’t have a legal team, here are four resources to get you started:

Two other great resources are the Casper district office of the Small Business Administration and the Wyoming SBDC because they’re so highly-connected throughout the state to financial and business services your non-profit can leverage.

STEP 10) Setup a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank Account

Now that you have an official non-profit with an EIN, find a great banking institution to secure your financials. What’s important here is to shop around. There are tons of options in terms of local, state, and national banks/credit unions whether we’re talking lowered fees, great online banking, general business services, and more.

Start brushing up on the basic numbers involved. Once you set up shop, be sure to sync this account with your accounting software and keep any and all other accounts separate!

OPTIONAL) Work on a Fund-Ready Plan

Write a Business Plan

There are few things more enlightening to your entire non-profit team, and your donors and volunteers, then well-laid plans. Often non-profit core founders have the impact, visions, and goals driving them with no real focus on how to really get there. Worse, non-profits fall to pieces with meager success because no foundation’s been built, no structure, to hold it and continue scaling.

A fund-ready plan is pretty straightforward actually, typically touching on core fundamentals like outreach methods, funding goals, executive summary, mission statement, programs and services, etc. If you need help with this, check out LivePlan, which is a planning software that walks you through the entire process.

OPTIONAL) Publish a Reponsive Website/Page

Build a Business Website

If you already have a website for your non-profit, as long as it’s mobile-friendly (responsive), you’re good to go. But if you don’t have a site yet, it’s probably because you aren’t a designer and you either a) don’t have one you trust close by, b) don’t know how to go about outsourcing.

In terms of outsourcing, you can set up an UpWork profile for free and find a good designer within your budget inside a month, or a couple weeks if you get lucky. If you’d rather keep everything in-house (recommended), head on over to website-builder platforms like Wix or Jimdo and build it yourself.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

Have a reliable non-profit filing service like Swyft Filings or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your organization and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Visit Swyft Filings Or Visit LegalZoom

Note that this article on how to form a non-profit organization in Wyoming 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 Wyoming or business in general, please consult with a non-profit/corporate lawyer or other accredited professional.