STEP 1) SECURE YOUR NON-PROFIT NAME

Choose a Business Name

There’s a handful of things you need to know as you start tackling your non-profit organization’s name. First, it must be unlike any other registered name with the state – conduct a Corporate Entity Search to see if there are any naming conflicts. Also, the name can’t be deceptive and imply your non-profit does anything other than what you’ll state in your Articles of Incorporation in Step 5.

If you want to read through the codes yourself, see 21-1391 in the NE Non-Profit Corporation Act. If needed, and once you know the name is available, you can file an Application for Reservation of Corp Name through postal mail that’s good for 120 days.

Filing Fee: $30

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered Agent

All non-profit entities need to have a registered agent for essentially one reason  – so they can’t say, “We never received that document.” to any state or federal agency. It will be your agent’s responsibility to officially receive and provide “Service of Process” to all state filings, tax documents, legal notices, and so on. This is why they must have a NE address, be registered/certified with the state, and hold regular M-F business hours.

That said, you can work with a professional and expect to pay up to $160/yr, or get a qualified agent free when you start a non-profit through IncFile or CorpNet. They handle this along with much more depending on which startup package you opt for.

STEP 3) SELECT INCORPORATORS & DIRECTORS

Choose the Initial Directors

Nebraska requires a minimum of 1 incorporator  – the individual(s) responsible for executing (signing/filing) the Non-Profit Articles of Incorporation with the state in Step 5. Pretty straightforward. However, if your non-profit will be governed by a Board of Directors vs. members things can get more interesting.

A minimum of 3 initial directors must be recruited to oversee the non-profit while it’s being formed, then when you conduct your initial meeting in Step 7 directors are voted on/in. 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 in terms of incorporators and directors.

STEP 4) DRAFT NON-PROFIT BYLAWS

Register an LLC

An incorporated non-profit needs to have bylaws, or rules and regulations, that first and foremost determine how it’s governed. They’re the foundation of your internal culture, and if they aren’t in place default state guidelines takeover. They should include:

  • How meetings are to be conducted and how often.
  • How new officers and directors are elected and replaced.
  • How voting takes place, disputes handled, and records kept/managed.
  • Adding/Amending bylaws (any changes must be reported to the IRS after incorporation).
  • How to handle other non-profit organization formalities in the state of Nebraska.

If this is all new to you, use this savvy Corporate Bylaws Template which you can customize for your non-profit and get an idea of the paperwork-side of bylaws.

STEP 5) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Business LicensesUnlike most other states, Nebraska has no official template for their Articles of Incorporation. What you can do though is use this Example Form, or something similar, to build a basic framework and use the official State Statutes to know what’s required. When in doubt, contact a non-profit attorney or incorporation service who are familiar with the process in Nebraska.

In essence once your incorporators execute this form with the state, in the eyes of the law your non-profit is formed. That said, be sure you’re ready and be absolutely sure you have everything filled out before submitting in-person, via mail, or Online Filing portal.

Filing Fee: $10 + $5/page recording fee

STEP 6) START A NON-PROFIT RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

Aside your digital data storage, this is a physical book or binder where you put copies of the most important documents that comprise your non-profit organization: formation/registration, core licenses & permits, minutes of meetings, huge contracts, annual reports and taxation documents, etc.

To get one for your non-profit you can grab a quality records book at any nearby office supply store, order them online through Amazon, or get a professional Corporate Kit which let you brand the book/slip case, provide blank certificates, and more for as little as $99.

STEP 7) CONDUCT INITIAL MEETING

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

For your first meeting assemble incorporators/directors and get ready to establish the foundation of your non-profit. Be sure to record “minutes” of the meeting and all attendees and have it signed by directors for your records book. Topics you’ll cover will vary but should include:

  • Voting on the appointment of critical officers and their duties,
  • Voting on and approving/amending bylaws.
  • Establishing a tax year and accounting period.
  • Approving initial transactions, committees, and more.

If you found the bylaws template useful, check out a similar Corporate Minutes Template you can also customize and use to provide initial structure until you and your board get the hang of things should it be necessary.

STEP 8) GET AN EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

An EIN is a federal “Employer” Identification Number but your non-profit is required to have one even if you don’t plan on hiring any official employees. The 9-digit number, similar to a social security number, is used to track your non-profits financial activity once you use it to set up a bank account in Step 10.

Because it’s needed by every legal business entity in America, they’re not hard to get. The quickest and easiest way is by submitting a request directly through the IRS Website.

STEP 9) HANDLE LICENSING & EXEMPTIONS

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.

A couple other amazing websites to tap into would be the Omaha office of the Small Business Administration and Sec. of State’s Business Services because they’re connected throughout the state and provide access to tons of financial resources you can leverage.

STEP 10) SETUP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Take some time to shop around and see which bank/credit union has the most convenience and perks to offer your organization. Don’t assume where you or any of your directors bank personally is the ideal choice. How’s their online banking? What are their free deposit/withdrawal limits? How high are their monthly fees? What kinds of incentives do they specifically offer non-profits?

Where you choose to bank is important so don’t take it lightly. If this will be your first time setting up shop, a) check out this quick breakdown of Non-Profit Accounts, and b) make sure to keep this account completely separate from all other accounts. Don’t muddy the pristine water of your financials.

OPTIONAL) WORK ON A FUND-READY PLAN

Write a Business Plan

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 or donors. The process itself will open so many doors, and dramatically increase your awareness of your potential. If you need help with this, check out and grab our exclusive discount to LivePlan.

OPTIONAL) PUBLISH A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE

Build a Business Website

When a potential volunteer, donor, or investor searches the internet for your non-profit brand what will or do they find? The very worst thing that can happen these days is that they don’t find anything at all. What would you think of a non-profit if they didn’t have at bare minimum a responsive one-pager explaining who they are, what they’re about, what they’re doing, and a simple way to contact/engage them?

Those are the basics of what a non-profit website is for, along with direct sales if you’re into you’re raising money, but you get the idea. With options like Wix, Jimdo and Weebly it’s never been easier or less expensive to begin building a digital presence for your organization.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

Have a reliable non-profit filing service like Swyft Filings or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your organization and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Visit Swyft Filings Or Visit LegalZoom

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