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

How to Use this Guide

Use the guide below to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Mississippi. 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 Your Nonprofit Name

Choose a Business NameTo secure and register your nonprofit name in it should be unique, not too similar to another registered entity name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording as defined by Mississippi law. To check for naming conflicts, first conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and be sure to check with section MS Code § 79-11-157 (2013) in the state code (subject to change).

Also, once you know your name is unique/acceptable you can file an Application to Register or Renew Trade and Service Marks with the MS Secretary of State to protect it until filing Articles of Incorporation in Step 5.

Filing Fee: $50 resident, $60 non-resident

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 AgentA Mississippi Registered Agent is a mandatory requirement for all nonprofit and business entities. It’s their job as a statutory agent to receive critical documents like state filings, tax forms, and legal notices on behalf of your organization. They must be either an individual Mississippi resident or registered business with a physical street address and regular M-F business hours.

That said, you can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a certified agent free when you incorporate your nonprofit with a service like Harbor Compliance (see details). They handle this and more depending on your startup package.

Step 3) Select Incorporators & Directors

Get a Registered AgentThere are three primary parts, which are listed below, but please consult MS Code § 79-11-255 (2013) for all the specifics under state law:

  1. You need at least 1 incorporator to execute the Articles in Step 5.
  2. There is no minimum, but remember to state desired number of directors in either Articles or bylaws.
  3. Any committees formed by your board must contain a minimum of two directors.

Step 4) Draft Nonprofit Bylaws

Register an LLC

Without your own bylaws, your nonprofit would be subject to the default rules and statutes concerning these subjects which may not be suitable at all. Common nonprofit bylaws include:

  • Detailed info on principle and registered agent offices.
  • 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 Mississippi.

To get started, check out a savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself.

Step 5) File Articles Of Incorporation

Business Licenses

Once you and your board believe everything’s in order and you’re ready to form the nonprofit in the eyes of the law/public record, you’ll need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Mississippi Secretary of State (Online filing only). Please, don’t try to take this step without first consulting MS Code § 79-11-10 which covers the requirements for the filing of documents.

The online filing process is relatively simple and the form is going to ask you to declare some of the basics of your nonprofit: name, registered agent info, directors info, mission/purpose statement, etc.

Filing Fee: $50

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, 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 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 An 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 Mississippi 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 a Corporate Minutes Template which you can customize.

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 nonprofit entities under law in order to effectively track their financial activity. Think of it as a social security number for your nonprofit, 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 nonprofit 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 & Taxation

Small Business Taxes

Now’s the point to ensure your nonprofit 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.

Two other great sources of information, networking, and financial services are the Jackson district office of the Small Business Administration, and Sec. of State’s Business Services page because nonprofits and the small business community work together in countless ways.

Step 10) Setup A Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank Account

As a nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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 Nonprofit Accounts to gain a better understanding and be sure to keep your nonprofit account 100% separate from all others.

Need Help?

How To Form a 501(c)(3) NonprofitIf you’d like help forming a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit In Mississippi, 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.