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 a 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 a 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.
No matter what stage of non-profit development you’re in, if you plan on going “all the way” then you’re going to need to get down to some basics and plan accordingly. No serious initiative gets to extreme heights of impact without a game plan. That’s the honest truth.
What does this mean? It means a presentation/fund-ready plan that focuses on core fundamentals for the purpose of showing VC-types, lending institutions, potential partners, volunteers, donators, etc. Feel free to use LivePlan and the special discount they offer our readers to your non-profit’s advantage.
Start small, simple, and responsive then build over time only as your non-profit needs grow. Don’t spend $4000 on a site when you have no funding. Ideally, use volunteers and funding to build from a basic landing page or agency-style site into something much more extensive.
It’s about marketing potential. It’s about brand expansion. It’s about amazing impact and giving search engines a way to show your project or initiative to the world. If this is your first web design rodeo, consider using a website builder like Wix or Weebly, which completely simplify the process. Both are really easy to use and affordable.
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.