Easy Steps To Protect Your Ohio Nonprofit and Keep Your Nonprofit Compliant

If you are starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Ohio, you have come to the right place. After following the easy steps for Ohio nonprofit formation, follow this guide to help keep your Ohio nonprofit compliant and protected.

In this guide we cover:

  1. How to Protect Your Ohio Nonprofit
  2. How to Keep Your Ohio Nonprofit Compliant
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How to Protect Your Ohio Nonprofit

Get Business Insurance

As with any other business, there may be risks involved in running the nonprofit. Getting insurance for your nonprofit allows you to focus on your passion while minimizing your liability.

Here are some of the common types of insurance you may want to consider for your organization:

  • General Liability Coverage
  • Directors and Officers Coverage
  • Social Service Professional Coverage

Your coverage needs will vary based on your organization and the work you do.

Properly Sign Legal Documents

There will be times when you will be signing a document on behalf of your nonprofit. It is important that these times are easily distinguishable from when you are signing a document as an individual. If a document isn’t properly signed, you might suddenly find yourself personally responsible for something the organization should have been liable for.

To avoid such confusion we recommend you and all the members of your organization follow the following format:

  • The official name of your nonprofit
  • Your signature
  • Your full legal name
  • Your position in the organization

How to Keep Your Ohio Nonprofit Compliant

Maintain An Ohio Statutory Agent

Nonprofits that have incorporated are required to maintain a statutory (registered) agent with an office address in Ohio.

If the agent or the office address changes, you must file Form 521 with the Secretary of State to effect a change to the Articles of Incorporation. You can submit this form to the mailing address below:

P.O. Box 788
Columbus, OH 43216

For more information, you can visit the Secretary of State at their website or call either (614) 466-2655 or (877) 767-6446.

NOTE: Failure to do so may result in termination of the corporation.

File Required Periodic Reports

The Secretary of State requires nonprofits to file a Statement of Continued Existence (Form 522), no more than once every five years.

The Secretary of State will send a notice to the registered (statutory) agent’s address with instructions approximately four months ahead of the filing deadline.

Determine Ohio Business Permits and Licenses

General Business License:
As a nonprofit in the state of Ohio, your organization will not need a general business license. However, depending on the type of nonprofit, there may be a specific license required. Access the Ohio Business Gateway’s page on licenses and permits for more details.

Charitable Games License:
If your organization will be running charitable games (games of chance, raffles, bingo, etc) you may need a gaming license or adhere to strict rules set forth by the Ohio Attorney General:


If your nonprofit is a charity, and it will be soliciting donations from the public, it is required to register with the Attorney General, unless an exemption is obtained.

You can register and file your annual report through the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

For more information, you can call the Attorney General's office at (800) 282-0515 or visit their office at the address below:

Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Charitable Law Section
150 East Gay Street, 23rd Floor
Columbus, OH, 43215


If your organization will have employees you must report all new employees through the Ohio New Employee Reporting Center.

In addition, depending on your organization, you may also need to register with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and/or Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Access their websites and select employers for information on the requirements for your organization.

For more information, you can call the Department of Taxation at (888) 405-4089, fax them at (614) 387-2165 or visit them on their website.

Public Inspection Rules for all 501(c)(3) Organizations

All organizations that have been granted the 501(c)(3) status are required to disclose the following documents to the public when requested:

  • Annual returns for 3 years after the due date (this includes returns like Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, and any Forms 990-T)
  • All Form 990 Schedules (except portions of Schedule B), attachments and supporting documents.
  • Application of exemption and all supporting documents such as Form 1023
  • The official paperwork from the IRS that shows that your organization has tax-exempt status.

The following do NOT need to be shared with the public

  • Portions of schedule B of Form 990/990-EZ that identify the contributors. (You only need to disclose the amount contributed and the nature of the contributions)
  • Any unfavorable rulings such as an earlier denial of tax-exempt status.
  • Any information the IRS has said you can withhold. This may include things like sensitive patents and trade secrets.


How long do I have to produce these documents if requested?

Ideally within the same day. If your organization doesn’t have an office or maintains limited hours during parts of the year, the information should be made available within two weeks.

Do I need to provide copies of the documents?

If someone asks for copies in person or in writing you must provide them with copies.

Can I charge for copies?

You can charge a reasonable amount for making copies of the documents requested.

NOTE: It may be easiest to have the documents available on your website so that anyone who requests copies can be sent to the site. This allows you to stay compliant without having to spend a lot of time dealing with document requests.

Annual Returns for Tax-Exempt Organizations

Most tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are required to file an annual return with the IRS (Check the list of exceptions).

Which form you should use to file the annual returns depends on the annual gross receipt amounts for your organization.

"Gross receipt" is defined by the IRS as “the total amounts the organization received from all sources during its annual accounting period, without subtracting any costs or expenses”

  • For gross receipts ≤$50,000 --- File 990-N
  • Gross receipts <$200,000 and total assets <$500,000 --- File 990- EZ
  • Gross receipts >$200,000 or Total assets >$500,000 --- File 990

For any questions, you can call the IRS at

  • (800) 829-3676 (Form-related questions)
  • (800) 829-1040 (General information)

When is form 990 due?

You have a little over 4 months after your taxable year comes to an end to file Form 990. It is due on the 15th day of the 5th month. So if your taxable year ends on Dec 31st, your form 990 is due on May 15th.

NOTE: If your organization fails to file form 990 for 3 consecutive years, it will automatically lose its tax-exempt status.

Report Unrelated Business Income

If your Ohio organization has a gross income of ≥$1000 from a trade or business that is not related to the stated purpose of the organization, then it must file Form 990-T to pay tax on that income.