Your first step to forming a rock solid non-profit organization is to verify and secure its name. Now, there are a number of rules, but let’s go right to the statutes: 47-22-7. “The corporate name shall not contain any word or phrase which indicates or implies that it is organized for any purpose other than one or more of the purposes contained in its articles of incorporation.”
Bookmark the entire Chapter 47-22 as well so you can get all the particulars to save time. Also, be sure to conduct a Business Entity Search through the state to streamline your research into potential naming conflicts. If needed, file an Application for Reservation of Name to protect it for 120 days or until you file.
Filing Fee: $25
Your registered agent will be a legal representative of your non-profit, but not in a lawyer or attorney-sense. It’s their job to officially receive/process critical documents like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, and so forth. This is why they have to be either a SD resident individual/citizen or a legally registered business entity with a street address and be reliable during all regular business days/hours.
For most the two options they confront are either a) hiring an outside 3rd party which can cost upwards of $160/yr, or they get cheaper rates or deals through providers. For example, when you incorporate with IncFile or Incorporate.com they provide a registered agent for free for the first year.
South Dakota requires your non-profit have at least 3 initial incorporators who among other things are responsible for filing the Articles of Incorporation with the state in Step 5. You’ll also need to select at least 3 initial Directors who will oversee the non-profit until your first meeting in Step 7 where official Directors can be voted in.
Because this part can get complex thanks to the legal/tax/corporate natures of non-profits, 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 to see it’s done right and you fully understand what’s going on in terms of incorporators and directors of your board.
Incorporated non-profits need to have bylaws, or rules, that first and foremost determine how it’s governed. They also state the mission of the non-profit and steer it’s course. They are essential. Common bylaws touch on topics like:
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.
Once you and your team decide it’s time to form and fully incorporate in the eyes of the law/public record, file your non-profit Articles of Incorporation with the Sec. of State either through mail or online. Information you’ll need includes:
Filing Fee: $30
If you’re audited, a corporate or non-profit records book/binder is what you’ll need to show them. In fact, if there are any kind of disputes it is the records book which should contain documents covering the matter either through contracts, bylaws, minutes of meeting, tax forms, legal notices, and so on.
As the name of the book implies, it’s a record holder of your SD registration, licenses and permits, and other critical paperwork. They’re very common in conjunction with modern “cloud-based” storage. You can pick one up at nearby office supply stores, online through Amazon, or for $99 get a professional Corporate Kit which you can brand and customize.
Also called the organizational meeting, the first meeting of the board of directors marks the beginning of your South Dakota non-profit. In this meeting, you must decide on the following agenda:
Make sure that you prepare the minutes of the meeting; your board of directors should also sign it. For safekeeping, it should be kept in your Corporate Records Books.
An EIN is an Employer Identification Number and your non-profit organization will need one to be compliant on the federal as well as state levels whether you intend on hiring official employees or not. Why? Well, through this number relevant agencies track your financials through your bank account which you need an EIN to create (Step 10).
Now, while there are a number of ways to get one, the quickest and easiest way is to apply/request one directly through the IRS Website.
With everything above taken care of, start looking at gaining your exemption status and becoming compliant in terms of any needed licenses/permits. If you don’t have legal representation, below are a bunch of resources to get you started.
Two other great resources would be the Sioux Falls district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Business Tax Division site because they’re likely going to be go-to sources for tons of valuable information and connections to financial/non-profit services.
How familiar are you with the perks, bonuses, incentives, and advantages of non-profit/business banking vs personal banking? There are tons of options with local, state, and national banks/credit unions so make sure you take some time to research. Don’t just establish your non-profit’s financials where you (or any of your directors/members) already conduct personal banking because they may not be ideal.
And another point, it’s essential that your organization’s finances are separate from any and all others. You should have a single branded stream funneling into your accounting software.
There are few things more enlightening to your entire non-profit team, and your donors and volunteers, then well-laid plans. Often non-profit core founders have the impact, visions, and goals driving them with no real focus on how to really get there. Worse, non-profits fall to pieces with meager success because no foundation’s been built, no structure, to hold it and continue scaling.
A fund-ready plan is pretty straightforward actually, typically touching on core fundamentals like outreach methods, funding goals, executive summary, mission statement, programs and services, etc. If you need help with this, check out LivePlan, which is a planning software that walks you through the entire process.
If you already have a website for your non-profit, as long as it’s mobile-friendly (responsive), you’re good to go. But if you don’t have a site yet, it’s probably because you aren’t a designer and you either a) don’t have one you trust close by, b) don’t know how to go about outsourcing.
In terms of outsourcing, you can set up an UpWork profile for free and find a good designer within your budget inside a month, or a couple weeks if you get lucky. If you’d rather keep everything in-house (recommended), head on over to website-builder platforms like Wix or Jimdo and build it yourself.
Note that this article on how to form a non-profit organization in South Dakota isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a non-profit organization in South Dakota or business in general, please consult with a non-profit/corporate lawyer or other accredited professional.