Step 1) Secure Your NonProfit's Name
To secure and register your corporate brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in Wyoming, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. Be sure to double-check the Wyoming Naming Rules for corporations before filing paperwork.
To check for naming conflicts, conduct a Business Entity Search through the state, which is pretty straightforward. Once you're ready you can then register the name with the state in Step 5. If needed, file an Application for Reservation of Corp. Name with the Sec. of State that’s good for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $50
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 Registered Agent is an individual citizen of Wyoming or recognized/registered business entity in the state with a street address (typically non-P.O. Box) responsible for receiving and helping to handle/process all official documents on your nonprofit's behalf like state filings, legal notices, important tax forms, etc.
That said, you can hire a third party service and pay up to $160 a year or get an qualified registered agent free of charge when you Incorporate with Incfile.
Step 3) Appoint Incorporators & Directors
An incorporator is the individual(s) responsible for executing the Articles of Incorporation (Step 5) with the state which declares the basics of your entity for the public record (including your brand name). Wyoming only requires one. Then you’ll need to appoint at least 1 director that oversees the nonprofit until your initial meeting (Step 7) where official directors can be voted on.
This part can be somewhat complex because of the legal/tax nature of nonprofits which is why it’s a good idea to either hire the best nonprofit lawyer you can afford or work with professional service providers. They can help you understand the ins and outs of choosing initial directors and so much more.
Step 4) Draft NonProfit Bylaws
These are the operations and procedures that will govern your nonprofit organization. They're not required by law, but as your internal rule book your nonprofit can't efficiently operate without them. Issues covered should include:
- How to hold meetings, elect officers, and new directors.
- Keeping and managing your nonprofit records and financials.
- Adding/Amending Bylaws.
- How to handle other corporate formalities required in Wyoming.
To get started, you can leverage a Bylaws Template to craft a customized bylaws document but these will definitely change over time. Thankfully you'll have a records book (Step 6) to keep track!
Step 5) File Articles of Incorporation
Once you and your team decide it's time to form the initial corporation, either use Wyoming's Online Portal to file your nonprofit Articles of Incorporation, or submit them via mail to the Sec. of State. Info 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: $25
Step 6) Get a Corporate Records Book
What is a corporate records book? It's where you store and keep a ledger of critical hard copy paperwork for your nonprofit. A very common practice - not mandatory officially, but you won't find a serious company or nonprofit without them.
As the name of the book implies, it’s a record holder of your Wyoming registration documents, licenses and permits, minutes of meetings, etc. You can pick one up at a nearby office supply store, get a great deal ordering online through Amazon, or get a Corporate Kit which includes gorgeous records books/binders you can brand for as little as $99.
Step 7) Conduct Initial Meeting
This is your first official meeting with your nonprofit board of directors! Be sure to record "minutes" of the meeting and have it signed by all attending directors then add it to your records book. Here’s a Minutes Template you can customize and use to get the ball rolling. Topics should cover:
- Appointing initial nonprofit officers;
- Approving/Amending your initial bylaws;
- Setting up a tax year as well as an accounting period/appoint CFO;
- Approve initial transactions and more depending on the nature of your nonprofit.
Step 8) Get an EIN
If you want your nonprofit to be compliant with the federal government, get through tax season smoothly, be able to legally hire team members to help with your efforts, and set up a business bank account...you must have an EIN or Employer Identification Number.
Think of it as a social security number for your organization. To get yours the easiest way is to submit a request through the IRS Website.