Use the guide below to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Montana. 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.
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. To check for naming conflicts, first conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and be sure to check with Title 35: Part 3 in the state code (subject to change).
Also, once you know your name is unique you can file a Business Name Reservation application with the Montana Secretary of State to protect it until filing Articles of Incorporation in Step 5.
Filing Fee: $10 with Expedition Options
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!
Your Montana Registered Agent is there so that your nonprofit always, and officially, receives important paperwork on time like state filings, legal notices, important tax forms, and so on. This is why they must be either a registered individual citizen or business entity in the state, have a physical street address, and be available during all regular business hours/days.
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.
What are incorporators? That’s easy, this is the individual (you can have more than one) who signs and then files your nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the state in step 5. They don’t have to be an officer or director. Speaking of directors, you’ll need to select at least 3 initial directors to oversee the nonprofit during formation until new more official directors can be voted on/in during your initial meeting in Step 7.
Bookmark the Governance & Leadership page from the MNA because it has more of the finer details in terms of board responsibilities. To be frank, working with an attorney or incorporation provider really comes in handy during this foundational step as well because there are definitely corporate formalities to learn.
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:
To get started, check out a savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself. Also, if you have a legal representative or someone that’s familiar with going through state law, here’s a link to the annotated Chapter 2 of the Montana state code.
Once you and your team decide it’s time to form the initial corporation, file your nonprofit Articles of Incorporation or submit them via mail to the Sec. of State. Information you’ll need includes:
Filing Fee: $30
What 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.
Also called the organizational meeting, the first meeting of the board of directors marks the beginning of your Montana nonprofit. In this meeting, you must decide on important matters including:
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.
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.
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 Helena district office of the Small Business Administration and the Sec. of State’s Business Services page. Nonprofits and the small business community work together in countless ways, right?
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.
If you’d like help forming a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit In Montana, we highly recommend looking into Harbor Compliance for personalized top-to-bottom nonprofit formation and obtaining IRS 501(c)(3) status.