Step 1) Secure Your Non-Profit Name
There’s a handful of things you need to know as you start tackling your non-profit organization’s name. First, it must be unlike any other registered name with the state – conduct a Corporate Entity Search to see if there are any naming conflicts. Also, the name can’t be deceptive and imply your non-profit does anything other than what you’ll state in your Articles of Incorporation in Step 5.
If you want to read through the codes yourself, see 21-1391 in the NE Non-Profit Corporation Act. If needed, and once you know the name is available, you can file an Application for Reservation of Corp Name through postal mail that’s good for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $30
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
All non-profit entities need to have a registered agent for essentially one reason – so they can’t say, “We never received that document.” to any state or federal agency.
It will be your agent’s responsibility to officially receive and provide “Service of Process” to all state filings, tax documents, legal notices, and so on. This is why they must have a NE address, be registered/certified with the state, and hold regular M-F business hours.
That said, you can work with a professional and expect to pay up to $160/yr, or get a qualified agent free when you start a non-profit through Incfile. They handle this along with much more depending on which startup package you opt for.
Step 3) Select Incorporators & Directors
Nebraska requires a minimum of 1 incorporator – the individual(s) responsible for executing (signing/filing) the Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation with the state in Step 5. Pretty straightforward. However, if your non-profit will be governed by a Board of Directors vs. members things can get more interesting.
A minimum of 3 initial directors must be recruited to oversee the non-profit while it’s being formed, then when you conduct your initial meeting in Step 7 directors are voted on/in. If possible it’s a good idea to either hire the best non-profit lawyer you can afford or partner with professional incorporation services who can provide expert assistance in terms of incorporators and directors.
Step 4) Draft Non-Profit Bylaws
An incorporated non-profit needs to have bylaws, or rules and regulations, that first and foremost determine how it’s governed. They’re the foundation of your internal culture, and if they aren’t in place default state guidelines takeover. They should include:
- How meetings are to be conducted and how often.
- How new officers and directors are elected and replaced.
- How voting takes place, disputes handled, and records kept/managed.
- Adding/Amending bylaws (any changes must be reported to the IRS after incorporation).
- How to handle other non-profit organization formalities in the state of Nebraska.
If this is all new to you, use a savvy Corporate Bylaws Template which you can customize for your non-profit and get an idea of the paperwork-side of bylaws.
Step 5) File Articles Of Incorporation
Unlike most other states, Nebraska has no official template for their Articles of Incorporation. What you can do though is use this Example Form, or something similar, to build a basic framework and use the official State Statutes to know what's required. When in doubt, contact a non-profit attorney or incorporation service who are familiar with the process in Nebraska.
In essence once your incorporators execute this form with the state, in the eyes of the law your non-profit is formed. That said, be sure you're ready and be absolutely sure you have everything filled out before submitting in-person, via mail, or Online Filing portal.
Filing Fee: $10 + $5/page recording fee
Step 6) Start A Non-Profit Records Book
Aside your digital data storage, this is a physical book or binder where you put copies of the most important documents that comprise your non-profit organization: formation/registration, core licenses & permits, minutes of meetings, huge contracts, annual reports and taxation documents, etc.
To get one for your non-profit you can grab a quality records book at any nearby office supply store, order them online through Amazon, or get a professional Corporate Kit which let you brand the book/slip case, provide blank certificates, and more for as little as $99.
Step 7) Conduct Initial Meeting
For your first meeting assemble incorporators/directors and get ready to establish the foundation of your non-profit. Be sure to record “minutes” of the meeting and all attendees and have it signed by directors for your records book. Topics you’ll cover will vary but should include:
- Voting on the appointment of critical officers and their duties,
- Voting on and approving/amending bylaws.
- Establishing a tax year and accounting period.
- Approving initial transactions, committees, and more.
If you found the bylaws templates useful, check out a similar Corporate Minutes Template you can also customize and use to provide initial structure until you and your board get the hang of things should it be necessary.
Step 8) Get An EIN
An EIN is a federal “Employer” Identification Number but your non-profit is required to have one even if you don’t plan on hiring any official employees. The 9-digit number, similar to a social security number, is used to track your non-profits financial activity once you use it to set up a bank account.
Because it’s needed by every legal business entity in America, they’re not hard to get. The quickest and easiest way is by submitting a request directly through the IRS Website.