Step 1) Secure Your Nonprofit Name
To 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 GoDaddy 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
A 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 Incfile. They handle this and more depending on your startup package.
Step 3) Select Incorporators & Directors
There are three primary parts, which are listed below, but please consult MS Code § 79-11-255 (2013) for all the specifics under state law:
- You need at least 1 incorporator to execute the Articles in Step 5.
- There is no minimum, but remember to state desired number of directors in either Articles or bylaws.
- Any committees formed by your board must contain a minimum of two directors.
Step 4) Draft Nonprofit Bylaws
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
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
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 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
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.
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
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.