Category Archives: Registration How-to’s

Starting Your Nonprofit

You’ve decided to start a nonprofit!  You see a need in your community, and you plan to do something about it.  So, where do you start?

  • First, do some brainstorming:
  • What do you hope to achieve, and how do you plan to go about it?
  • What will your organization do that existing organizations aren’t doing?
  • Where will the money come from?
  • What other resources will you need?
  • Will you be able to recruit volunteers?
  • Will you have paid employees?
  • Are there existing groups that you can partner with?

Write out a plan and a budget.   Identify your goals, your own skills and resources, and potential sources of assistance.

Next, decide on a legal structure.  Many nonprofits exist as unincorporated associations, but there may be advantages to creating a nonprofit corporation.  You might want to consult an attorney to discuss the pros and cons.  If you decide to incorporate, you will need to recruit a Board of Directors to manage the organization, register your Articles of Incorporation with your state government (in most states, this registration is done through the Secretary of State’s office), and meet any other state requirements.   Whether or not you incorporate the organization, you will need written documents to outline how your organization will operate.

The next step is to obtain a Federal Tax Identification Number, also known as an Employer ID number (EIN), from the IRS.  Even if the organization will have no paid employees, this will be needed to establish a bank account and to file reports with the IRS.   The IRS has streamlined this procedure, and it can be completed on their website at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-to-apply-for-an-ein.

Once your organization has obtained an EIN, it needs to apply to the IRS to recognize its tax-exempt status.  Nonprofits are exempt from income tax because they have no owners or shareholders; the money they receive is used to carry out the organization’s purposes, and any money left over is kept for future use or donated to other nonprofits.  However, most nonprofits are still required to file annual reports with the IRS.  If your organization wants to be recognized as a charity (its purpose must be charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals), you should apply to the IRS using Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption from Income Tax Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  If your nonprofit falls into a different category (for example, a social club or a political organization), you would use IRS Form 1024.  More information is available on the IRS website and in IRS Publication 557.

Once the IRS has approved your application, they will issue a Letter of Determination that specifies your Federal tax-exempt status and whether contributions to your organization are tax-deductible.  But depending on the state where you are located, you may have to apply for exemption from state taxes too.  For example, California and Texas are two of the states that require a separate application to be exempt from state franchise tax.  State laws also vary as to whether a nonprofit organization is exempt from other state taxes such as sales tax.

Your Letter of Determination will also specify whether you must file an IRS Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, each year.  That form is generally due four months and 15 days after the close of your organization’s fiscal year.

Nonprofit organizations are required to disclose information on their finances to the public.  Your Form 990 is considered public information and you must provide copies upon request.  You may also be required to include information telling how to request those copies on your website and in any solicitation literature.

And will your organization be soliciting donations from the public?  If so, most states will require you to register to solicit donations in their state.  We won’t go into the details here, because registration requirements and fees are different for each state.  If you hire a professional fundraiser or fundraising consultant, they may also be required to register.   Then most charitable solicitation registrations must be renewed each year, and you may be required to obtain an independent audit of the organization’s financial statements.  It can get complicated, but that’s why we’re here–to make the process easier.

Trusted Nonprofit Resources

National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO)

The National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) is an association of state offices charged with oversight of charitable organizations and charitable solicitation in the United States.  They have taken a leadership role in promoting uniform state charity registration and filing requirements, amicus briefs, and multistate lawsuits targeting fundraising deception. NASCO members have also participated in drafting the Uniform Law Commission’s Oversight of Charitable Assets Act which is a model for state solicitation law and jurisdictional guidelines for state regulation of charitable solicitation on the Internet.

National Council of Nonprofits (Council of Nonprofits) 

The National Council of Nonprofits (Council of Nonprofits) is a trusted resource and advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits. Through their powerful network of State Associations and the nation’s largest network of nonprofits they serve as a central coordinator and mobilizer to help nonprofits achieve greater collective impact in local communities across the country. They identify emerging trends, share proven practices, and promote solutions that benefit charitable nonprofits and the communities they serve.

Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents more than 30,000 members in over 230 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs.  The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.

National Association of Attorney Generals (NAAG)

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high-quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. The Association’s members are the attorneys general of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and the chief legal officers of the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico (Secretary of Justice) and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

Your Local State Charity Office

We have a blog devoted with a list of the State Charity offices!! Almost all states have an association devoted to nonprofit assistance no matter where your organization is in its life-cycle. Whether you just need a form or something more complex they will most likely have the answer. Most state associations offer online training, research and local events that you can attend to get more familiar with your fellow non-profiteer!

GuideStar 

GuideStar encourages nonprofits to share information about their organizations openly and completely. They combine the information that nonprofits supply them with data from several other sources to provide information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800)780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

 

3 Factors Affecting Your Nonprofit Registration Timeline

One of the most frequently asked questions we get in our support email is “How long will it take to get my charity registered”.  That depends on 3 factors: organizational paperwork preparedness, number of states registering, and the state office for which you are registering.

Prior to beginning the process you should have all of the following paperwork/information in hand to facilitate completing the questions that are required to fill in the forms. If you look at the left-hand side on the SimpleCharityRegistration.com website the navigation bar divides the questions by topic.  The sections will give you a sense of the types of required information you will need. You can even click on the sections ahead before entering information to see what you will need next.

Organizational Paperwork

In addition to the 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF or other financial reporting you will need:

  • Info on the origins of the charity, such as formation date and state, 501(c) designation and date or application date, organization type, purpose, mission, etc.
  • if this is an initial registration in states, you will also need to attach the articles of incorporation and by-laws
  • list of sources of government grants
  • personnel — list of board members with addresses (usually a business address other than the charity), key employees and their salaries and positions, and information about whether any of these people have connections to other related organizations or have any interaction with government agencies or courts
  • list of any paid professional fundraisers used by your charity along with their contracts and terms
  • a list of chapters, branches or offices of the organization
  • a list of resident agents for the states required as explained on the right side of the Resident Agent page

Most of these items are for answering the questionnaire, but some, like the articles of incorporation and by-laws, will need to be copied and attached to the registration form upon submission.

For the data entry, depending on the size of your organization, you should allow a few days just in case you need to contact other administrators in your office for missing information. The next step is proofing and putting the packages together. Add some signatures and stamps and you are on your way.

Number of States

The best part about having an account with SimpleCharityRegistration.com is once all the information is in the software printing and preparing each consecutive state application becomes easier and the next year when it is time to renew you only need to review the prior year’s information and add the current financials and you are on your way to knocking this once burdensome process right out of the park!!

States Where Registering

Depending on the time of year and which states you are registering the time for approval can take a couple of business days up to 6 weeks or more.  Take note of the renewal date for each state when registering as you know that will be the time of year the state offices will be the busiest and your initial registration application may take a little longer.

You may also enjoy our new welcome video and our two-part blog on this topic.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

North Dakota Corporate Registration/Qualification

Out of state charitable corporations must obtain a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State office if they conduct activities in North Dakota which includes soliciting for donations.  A non-profit corporation can do this by filing a Certificate of Authority Foreign Corporation Application (SFN 13100).

A foreign corporation using a name other than its corporate name must also file the Trade Name Registration Form (SFN 13401) and renew annually.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing the Certificate of Authority Foreign Corporation Application which can be provided by a service or an individual residing in North Dakota. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

For more information on corporate registration, review the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website or you could read up on Corporate Registration and Registered Agents on our blog.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

Oregon Corporate Registration/Qualification

Out-of-state charitable corporations must register prior to solicitation with the Department of Justice Charitable Activities Section.  Those forms can be found on SimpleCharityRegistration.

Nonprofit corporations organized in another state which solicit, hold assets or do business in Oregon must also register with the Oregon Secretary of State Corporations Division. They must file an Application for Authority to Transact Business-Nonprofit which can be submitted by mail or online at the Oregon Business Registry.  The annual renewal must be done online by February 1st of each year.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for service of process filing as a Foreign Non-profit can be provided by a service or an individual residing in Oregon. An entity cannot designate itself as its own registered agent.  If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

DC Corporate Registration/Qualification

Nonprofits must file for a basic business license in DC which in lieu of completing a charity registration application.  This includes completing corporate registration with the FN-1 Form as a foreign entity conducting business in DC. The best way to register in DC is online through the Department of Consumer and Regulator Affairs (DCRA), Corporations Division, CorpOnline Web Portal.

It is best to register through their portal as you can track your progress from the corporate registration to the tax exempt application and then on to registering your non-profit as a business with the BBL-EZ Form.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing both as a Foreign Non-profit and for completing the BBL-EZ application both can be provided by a service or an individual residing in DC. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

If you plan on using a name in DC other than your registered corporate name, you also will need to register that Trade Name.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

Colorado Corporate Registration/Qualification

Every charitable organization that solicits contributions in Colorado must complete the charity registration process before engaging in any solicitation activities. This includes registering your out-of-state (foreign) nonprofit with the Colorado Secretary of State by filing a “Statement of Foreign Entity Authority“.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing the Statement of Foreign Entity Authority and the charity registration application both can be provided by a service or an individual residing in Colorado. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

All of Colorado’s forms must be filed online including the Charity Registration. More information about the process can be found on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

California Corporate Registration/Qualification

Out of state charitable corporations must register or qualify with the California Secretary of State’s office if they do business in California which includes soliciting for donations.  A non-profit corporation can do this by filing a Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation (Form S&DC-S/N).

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing the Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation which can be provided by a service or an individual residing in California. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

After obtaining the corporate registration approval, we recommend that the organization files for state tax exemption with the California Franchise Tax Board.  The Submission of Exemption Request (Form FTB 3500A) should be filed so that the organization will be recognized as a tax exempt entity and will not have to pay any California franchise taxes.

For more information on corporate registration review the California Secretary of State’s website or you could read up on Corporate Registration and Registered Agents on our blog.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

State Charity Registration Made Easy – Webinar

Simple Charity Registration is an affordable form fill software designed to reduce the amount of time and resources it takes your organization to fulfill your state charity compliance requirements.

How can SimpleCharityRegistration.com help you accomplish your mission?

4 Simple Steps:

  1. Identifying up front which states your organization will need to register in and in which states you may be exempt from registration requirements
  2. Collecting all information necessary to file up-to-date state specific forms (registration, renewal, exemption, or extension), with instructions and resources all in one place
  3. Sending email reminders of renewal and annual financial due dates, saving you from missed deadlines and penalties
  4. Storing your data from one year to the next, available to you at any time to add a new state or renew a previous one, keeping you compliant

Laptop

4 Simple Steps to Compliance Video

Simple Charity Registration is designed to allow you to do your registration in parts as you have the information available, making now the perfect time to get started on your registrations and renewals while waiting for your financials to be complete.

Simple Charity Registration looks forward to helping you spend more of your valuable resources on your mission while staying compliant.

Join Us for a free, 30-minute webinar on Thursday, July 20th at 2:00 pm ET.

Register Now

 

Here are some other resources that will be helpful throughout the registration process: GuideStar’s blog on State Registration Requirements for Fundraising, our blogs on what to prepare for registration and how Simple Charity Registration can help.

Please take a minute to visit our website www.SimpleCharityRegistration.com and create a free account or contact us to learn more at 800.780.6027 or email us at support@simplecharityregistration.com with any questions.

Thank you
Your Simple Charity Registration Support Team

 

Demystifying State Charity Registration – Webinar

For many nonprofits, this time of year brings anxiety from multi-state charity registration requirements. Whether you are looking at register for the first time or renewing, it can be overwhelming. SimpleCharityRegistration.com can help you manage this heavy load.

Simple Charity Registration is an affordable form automation software designed to reduce the amount of time and resources it takes your organization to fulfill your state charity compliance needs. How can SimpleCharityRegistration help you accomplish your mission?

4 Simple Steps:

  1. Identifying up front which states your organization will need to register in and in which states you may be exempt from registration requirements
  2. Collecting all information necessary to file up-to-date state specific forms (registration, renewal, exemption, or extension), with instructions and resources all in one place
  3. Sending email reminders of renewal and annual financial due dates, saving you from missed deadlines and penalties
  4. Storing your data from one year to the next, available to you at any time to add a new state or renew a previous one, keeping you compliant

Laptop

4 Simple Steps to Compliance Video

Simple Charity Registration is designed to allow you to do your registration in parts as you have the information available, making now the perfect time to get started on your registrations and renewals while waiting for your financials to be complete.

Simple Charity Registration looks forward to helping you spend more of your valuable resources on your mission while staying compliant.

Join Us for a free, 30-minute webinar on Wednesday, April 5, at 3:00 pm ET.

Register Now

 

Here are some other resources that will be helpful throughout the registration process: GuideStar’s blog on State Registration Requirements for Fundraising, our blogs on what to prepare for registration and how Simple Charity Registration can help.

Please take a minute to visit our website www.SimpleCharityRegistration.com and create a free account or contact us to learn more 800.780.6027 support@simplecharityregistration.com.

Thank you
Your Simple Charity Registration Support Team