Form a Mississippi Non-Profit organization yourself with our simple step-by-step guide. It’s free and easy!
IncFile and LegalZoom are both reliable services that take care of all legal paperwork on your behalf.IncFile ($99 + State Fee) LegalZoom ($99 + State Fee)
To 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
A 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.
There are three primary parts, which are listed below, but please consult MS Code § 79-11-255 (2013) for all the specifics under state law:
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:
To get started, check out this savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself.
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
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.
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:
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 this great Corporate Minutes Template which you can customize.
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.
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.
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.
Because of the nature of non-profits, truth is there’s some sort of planning in place. The question is how effective will it end up being a year from now? A year from now, how far will your current approach to non-profit planning (and execution) have gotten you and your board? How defined will your mission statement and outreach goals? How tight of a grasp on your fundamentals?
It’s never too early, or too late, to begin establishing a fund-ready plan you would proudly show to potential partners, donator networks, VCs, or CrowdFunding platforms. The process itself will open so many doors, and dramatically increase your awareness of your potential.
QUICK LINKS TO NON-PROFIT PLANNING
Do you already have a functional website bringing in donations, increasing engagement, expanding initiative awareness and driving impact where you want it to be? If so, great! If not, then now’s a great time to get this ball rolling. And don’t worry if you aren’t a gifted designer, or you don’t have one working in-house, because there are so many non-profit-friendly options!
Be sure to check out ecommerce platforms like Shopify, or modern website-builder platforms like Wix, WordPress and SquareSpace. If you’re interested and roaring to go, check out this breakdown of 20 Non-Profit Websites from 2016 to see what works, what looks good, and start generating ideas.
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.