Step 1) Secure Your Nonprofit Name
Naming your nonprofit is actually quite exciting. First, it's going to need to be a unique name, unlike any other name registered with the state (LLC, Corp, Partnership, etc.). Secondly, it can't be deceptive and imply your organization does something other than what's stated in your mission statement in your Articles of Incorporation (Step 5).
After conducting a Business Entity Search through the state, check Nevada Statutes Ch. 22, sections §82.086, §82.096, and §82.106. If needed, you can file a Name Reservation Request form with the Secretary of State for through mail or online through SilverFlume, Nevada’s own online portal.
Filing Fee: $25
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 Nevada Registered Agent acts on behalf of your nonprofit to accept “service of process” and receive official correspondence from the Secretary of State’s office and other legal documents from various government agencies.
To qualify for the position, the agent should be an individual resident/citizen of Nevada or a registered business entity. A physical street address in Nevada should also be provided.
You can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you start a nonprofit with services like IncFile. They handle this along with so much more depending on the package you choose.
Step 3) Select Incorporators & Directors
Nevada requires your nonprofit have at least 1 initial incorporator who among other things is responsible for filing the Articles of Incorporation with the state (NRS §82.081). There can be more than one, yes, but these types of rules are subject to change over time. You’ll also need to select at least 1 Director (or "trustee") who will oversee the nonprofit until your initial meeting in Step 7.
Because this part can get complex thanks to the legal/tax nature of nonprofits, if possible it’s a good idea to either hire the best nonprofit lawyer you can afford or partner with professional incorporation services who can provide expert assistance to see it’s done right and you fully understand what’s going on.
Step 4) Draft Nonprofit Bylaws
An incorporated nonprofit needs to have bylaws, or rules and regulations, that first and foremost determine how it’s governed. They're where the rubber meets the road so to speak, 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 nonprofit organization formalities in the state of Nevada.
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.
Step 5) File Articles Of Incorporation
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: $50 + Optional $125-$1,000 Expedited Options
Step 6) Maintain A Corporate Records Binder
Aside your digital data storage, this is a physical book or binder where you put copies of the most important documents that comprise your nonprofit organization: formation/registration, core licenses & permits, minutes of meetings, huge contracts, annual reports and taxation documents, etc.
To get one for your nonprofit 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
The first board of directors meeting is organizational in nature and one of the most important meetings that you can ever hold as a nonprofit. During the first meeting, the following agenda will be discussed:
- Nonprofit bylaws approval - these heavily define your culture and structure.
- Appointment of officers - your treasurer, secretary, president, etc.
- Setting a nonprofit accounting and tax period for financials,
- Approval of initial transactions and establishing a corporate bank account.
Be sure to prepare the minutes of the meeting and have it signed by all your board of directors. It must be recorded and kept in your Corporate Records Book for safekeeping.
Step 8) Get An EIN
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is required by both state and federal governments for essentially the same reasons individuals are required to have a SSN. It’s a nine-digit number that’s used to track business/nonprofit financial activity and makes it possible to open a business bank account, hire paid-employees if needed, and so on.
Almost every transaction your nonprofit engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly, easily and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.