How To Form a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit In Idaho

How to Use this Guide

Use the guide below to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Idaho. Keep in mind that the process requires forming a nonprofit corporation and getting tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Since the overall process is extremely complex, we highly recommend consulting with an attorney or using a service like Harbor Compliance for personalized top-to-bottom nonprofit formation and obtaining IRS 501(c)(3) status.

Step 1) Secure Nonprofit Name

Choose a Business NameNaming your nonprofit should be fun! That said, there are some rules, for example these three as per ID Code § 30-21-302 (2015):

  • (1) It should contain any of the following words or its exact abbreviation: ‘company’, ‘corporation’, ‘incorporated’, or ‘limited’.
  • (2) If the word ‘company’ or its corresponding abbreviation is used in the name, the word cannot be preceded with ‘and’.
  • (3) The business name should be unique from any other business entity registered in the state.

Be sure to conduct a Business Entity Search. through the state to confirm no naming conflicts. When it’s available, you can also file an Application for Reservation of Legal Entity Name to reserve the name for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $20-$60

Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use WEEBLY to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!

Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent

Choose a Registered Agent

An Idaho Registered Agent (also referred to as a legal appointee or statutory agent) can be an individual resident/citizen of the state or a legally registered domestic/foreign business entity with a physical street address and regular M-F business hours. On behalf of your nonprofit they receive and help process critical paperwork like tax or legal notices and so on.

That said, you can hire a 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you start a nonprofit through Harbor Compliance (see details). They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.

Step 3) Select Incorporators & Directors

Choose the Initial Directors

Incorporators are simply individuals who are tasked with “executing” the Articles of Incorporation (signing/filing them) with the state of Idaho. Directors on the other hand have much more responsibility if you intend on running your nonprofit by board vs. through members or through volunteers alone.

You’ll need a minimum of 3 initial directors (1 for religious) to oversee the nonprofit until the initial board meeting has been held in Step 7 and official directors are voted on/in. Also, remember that in Idaho your initial directors will be listed in your Articles when you file. If you need help with this part, please work with a qualified lawyer or incorporation service and bookmark the Idaho Board of Directors guide PDF.

Step 4) Draft Nonprofit Bylaws

Register an LLC

Bylaws are the rules/stipulations/regulations you write for how your nonprofit will be governed and managed along with the many other formalities that come along with having a board of directors vs a nonprofit that’s run expressly by members or volunteers. Common bylaws cover topics like:

  • How meetings are to be conducted and how often (monthly, by-monthly, yearly, etc.)
  • How new officers and directors are elected and their responsibilities.
  • How voting takes place, how disputes are handled, and how records are kept.
  • Adding/Amending bylaws (any changes must be reported to the IRS after incorporation).

If this is all new to you, use a savvy Corporate Bylaws Template which you can customize for your nonprofit and get an idea of the paperwork-side of bylaws. Be sure to bookmark the statutes 30-3-21 concerning bylaws so you know the legal requirements as well.

Step 5) File Articles Of Incorporation

Business Licenses

Once you and your team decide it’s time to form and fully incorporate in the eyes of the law/public record, file your nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Sec. of State either through mail or online. Information you’ll need includes:

  • The name, type, duration of existence, and statement of purpose (provisions for nonprofit 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: $30 + optional $20 expedite fee

Step 6) Start A Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsWhat we’re referring to here is a physical, often very nice looking “book” or binder where copies of all the most 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 nonprofit. 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 Directors

Also called the Organizational Meeting, the first meeting of the board of directors marks the beginning of your Idaho nonprofit. In this meeting, you must decide on important matters including:

  • Nonprofit bylaws approval or setting the precedent for amending them.
  • Designation of officers and committees and their responsibilities.
  • Nonprofit accounting and tax period and appointment of CFO/Treasurer.
  • Approval of initial transactions and establishing a corporate bank account (Step 10).

Make sure that you prepare the minutes of the meeting; your attending board of directors will need to sign the document. If needed, check out this great Corporate Minutes Template which you can customize.

Step 8) Get An EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

You have a social security number, right? An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is exactly like it except for business entities and nonprofit organizations. The state/federal government uses it to track your financial activity, but beyond that you’ll be able to use your EIN to set up a business bank account in Step 10, hire paid-employees if applicable to your initiative, and more.

While there are a number of ways to get yours, it’s quick, easy and free of charge when you do it through the IRS Website.

Step 9) Handle Licensing & Exemptions

Small Business Taxes

First, bookmark the Starting a Nonprofit page through Idaho Nonprofits that lists the many parts/resources in this step. It’s essential your nonprofit be 100% compliant in terms of not only licenses/permits, but state and federal taxes.

  • Download IRS FORM 1023 – Application for the Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3).
  • Or Form 1023-EZ – streamlined form but must be under $50k annual gross receipts and $250k in assets.
  • Bookmark the ID Attorney Gen’s Charities page and Dept. of Taxation to get more info.
  • If you need help, check out Business License Research packages that take care of some legwork.

Also, because of the countless potential between nonprofits and the business community, you may want to bookmark the Boise Small Business Administration office and’s Business Services.

Step 10) Setup A Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank Account

Hopefully during your initial board meeting you and your directors set aside time to really understand how important this decision is, namely where your nonprofit will bank. How familiar are you with nonprofit banking on the corporate level? Are you already aware of the many business services, varying fee structures, and incentives?

Don’t take this lightly. There are plenty of large and small local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions to choose from. Don’t just assume the mainstream banks are the best because they’re the biggest. There’s a lot of variables to consider here, so to get your research going check out this brief breakdown of Nonprofit Accounts to gain a better understanding.

Need Help?

How To Form a 501(c)(3) NonprofitIf you’d like help forming a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit In Idaho, we highly recommend looking into Harbor Compliance for personalized top-to-bottom nonprofit formation and obtaining IRS 501(c)(3) status.

They handle everything on your behalf and be on-call for questions you have. If you’d like more info, visit their website or read our review.