STEP 1) SECURE YOUR NON-PROFIT NAME

Choose a Business NameTo secure and register your non-profit name in it should be unique, not too similar to another registered entity name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording as defined by Mississippi law. To check for naming conflicts, first conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and be sure to check with section MS Code § 79-11-157 (2013) in the state code (subject to change).

Also, once you know your name is unique/acceptable you can file an Application to Register or Renew Trade and Service Marks with the MS Secretary of State to protect it until filing Articles of Incorporation in Step 5.

Filing Fee: $50 resident, $60 non-resident

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered AgentA Mississippi Registered Agent is a mandatory requirement for all non-profit and business entities. It’s their job as a statutory agent to receive critical documents like state filings, tax forms, and legal notices on behalf of your organization. They must be either an individual Mississippi resident or registered business with a physical street address and regular M-F business hours.

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 non-profit with a service like IncFile or BizFilings. They handle this and more depending on your startup package.

STEP 3) SELECT INCORPORATORS & DIRECTORS

Get a Registered AgentThere are three primary parts, which are listed below, but please consult MS Code § 79-11-255 (2013) for all the specifics under state law:

  1. You need at least 1 incorporator to execute the Articles in Step 5.
  2. There is no minimum, but remember to state desired number of directors in either Articles or bylaws.
  3. Any committees formed by your board must contain a minimum of two directors.

STEP 4) DRAFT NON-PROFIT BYLAWS

Register an LLC

Without your own bylaws, your non-profit would be subject to the default rules and statutes concerning these subjects which may not be suitable at all. Common non-profit bylaws include:

  • Detailed info on principle and registered agent offices.
  • Management, procedures, and responsibilities of the board.
  • Details on each office – Pres., Secretary, Treasurer, etc.
  • How to go about Adding/Amending bylaws,
  • How to handle other corporate formalities required in Mississippi.

To get started, check out a savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself.

STEP 5) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Business Licenses

Once you and your board believe everything’s in order and you’re ready to form the non-profit in the eyes of the law/public record, you’ll need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Mississippi Secretary of State (Online filing only). Please, don’t try to take this step without first consulting MS Code § 79-11-10 which covers the requirements for the filing of documents.

The online filing process is relatively simple and the form is going to ask you to declare some of the basics of your non-profit: name, registered agent info, directors info, mission/purpose statement, etc.

Filing Fee: $50

STEP 6) START A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

What we’re referring to here is a physical, often very nice looking book, folder or binder where copies of 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 non-profit. 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.

STEP 7) CONDUCT AN INITIAL MEETING

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Also called the organizational meeting, the first meeting of the board of directors marks the beginning of your Mississippi non-profit. In this meeting, you must decide on important matters including:

  • Non-profit bylaws approval or setting the precedent for amending them.
  • Designation of officers and committees and their responsibilities.
  • Non-profit accounting and tax period and appointment of CFO/Treasurer.
  • Approval of initial transactions and establishing a corporate bank account (Step 10).

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.

STEP 8) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a 9-digit number required by all business and non-profit entities under law in order to effectively track their financial activity. Think of it as a social security number for your non-profit, 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 non-profit engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.

STEP 9) HANDLE LICENSING & TAXATION

Small Business Taxes

Now’s the point to ensure your non-profit 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 Jackson district office of the Small Business Administration, and Sec. of State’s Business Services page because non-profits and the small business community work together in countless ways.

STEP 10) SETUP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

As a non-profit 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 non-profit 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 Non-Profit Accounts to gain a better understanding and be sure to keep your non-profit account 100% separate from all others.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

If you’d like help forming a nonprofit, here are two great options:

Swyft Filings ($49 + state fees) is ideal if you’re on a budget but refuse to sacrifice quality. However if you’d like to have access to an attorney past nonprofit formation, Rocket Lawyer ($99 + state fees) is the best option.

Visit Swyft Filings Or Visit Rocket Lawyer

Note that this article on how to start a non-profit organization in Mississippi 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 start a non-profit organization in Mississippi or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.