Naming your non-profit is actually quite exciting. First, it’s going to need to be a unique name, unlike any other name registered with the state (LLC, Corp, Partnership, etc.). Secondly, it can’t be deceptive and imply your organization does something other than what’s stated in your mission statement in your Articles of Incorporation (Step 5).
After conducting a Business Entity Search through the state, check Nevada Statutes Ch. 22, sections §82.086, §82.096, and §82.106. If needed, you can file a Name Reservation Request form with the Secretary of State for through mail or online through SilverFlume, Nevada’s own online portal.
Filing Fee: $25
A Nevada Registered Agent acts on behalf of your non-profit to accept “service of process” and receive official correspondence from the Secretary of State’s office and other legal documents from various government agencies. To qualify for the position, the agent should be an individual resident/citizen of Nevada or a registered business entity. A physical street address in Nevada should also be provided.
You can hire an outside professional service and pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free of charge when you start a non-profit with services like IncFile or BizFilings. They handle this along with so much more depending on the package you choose.
Nevada requires your non-profit have at least 1 initial incorporator who among other things is responsible for filing the Articles of Incorporation with the state (NRS §82.081). There can be more than one, yes, but these types of rules are subject to change over time. You’ll also need to select at least 1 Director (or “trustee”) who will oversee the non-profit until your initial meeting in Step 7.
Because this part can get complex thanks to the legal/tax nature 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.
An incorporated non-profit needs to have bylaws, or rules and regulations, that first and foremost determine how it’s governed. They’re where the rubber meets the road so to speak, and if they aren’t in place default state guidelines takeover. They should include:
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.
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: $50 + Optional $125-$1,000 Expedited Options
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.
The first board of directors meeting is organizational in nature and one of the most important meetings that you can ever hold as a nonprofit. During the first meeting, the following agenda will be discussed:
Be sure to prepare the minutes of the meeting and have it signed by all your board of directors. It must be recorded and kept in your Corporate Records Book for safekeeping.
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is required by both state and federal governments for essentially the same reasons individuals are required to have a SSN. It’s a nine-digit number that’s used to track business/non-profit financial activity and makes it possible to open a business bank account (Step 10), hire paid-employees if needed, and so on.
Almost every transaction your non-profit engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly, easily and free of charge by applying online 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.
A couple other great sites to bookmark would be the Las Vegas district office of the Small Business Administration and the Sec. of State’s Business Services page because there’s a ton of useful information and valuable financial resources to leverage, not to mention the small business community.
Now it’s time to get your non-profit’s financial house in order, which is much more involved in most cases than your average business-focused startup. Establish a checking account under your non-profit (with your EIN) in a good bank.
Don’t be hasty though, there’s a large assortment of local, state, and national banks along with credit unions to choose from. Don’t assume where you bank personally is the best option and make absolutely sure that your non-profit accounts are separate from any/all other accounts.
If you’re just starting out, familiarize yourself with the perks involved and what they mean year-over-year. Check out this great breakdown article on the basics of Non-Profit Checking Accounts to get a jump on things.
Unbelievable work, at this point your non-profit is established and ready to impact the world, change lives, and make a difference. That said, how’s your planning? What kind of plan do you have and how much structure is there?
Listen, if all you have is a basic mission statement and a hazy vision of the next couple years PLEASE consider taking some time to really chisel out a solid game plan with core fundamentals like outreach methods, funding needs, impact goals/milestones, etc. It’s worth it. Eventually your non-profit will need this anyway when it comes time to approach potential partners and volunteer organizations. If you need help putting this together, we highly recommend a tool called LivePlan, which will walk you through the entire process.
Do you have a website for your non-profit yet? It’s important you do, whether that be a single explanatory landing page, a comprehensive agency-style site, or a blog with ecommerce capabilities. At the end of the day it’s about this one thing: “What people see or discover when they search for your non-profit’s name online.”
Note that this article on how to start a non-profit organization in Nevada 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 Nevada or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.