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How to Incorporate a Non-profit Organization

Scott Hirsch
Non-profit Organization
We’ve all run into the phrase “non-profit” and most likely understand it in general terms. Below, we’ll outline the definition, benefits, regulations, and how-to’s of starting a non-profit organization.

What is a Non-Profit?

A non-profit organization is an entity that serves the public or advocates for a social cause and therefore receives tax-exempt status from the IRS. According to the IRS, categories that qualify as a non-profit include:

  • Charitable or religious organizations
  • Social welfare organizations
  • Labor and agricultural organizations
  • Business leagues
  • Veteran organizations 

What are the benefits of a non-profit?

As stated above, non-profit organizations are tax-exempt. People who donate to a non-profit can write off their donations, and the non-profit is exempt from paying taxes on the donations it receives. Non-profits may also be eligible for public and private grants.  

How to Incorporate a Non-profit 

Starting a non-profit is similar to any other LLC with the additional step of applying for tax-exempt status. 

  • Choose a name
  • Appoint a board of directors
  • Decide whether the company will be a trust, corporation, or association
  • File incorporation paperwork to your state
  • Apply for tax-exempt status with the state and the IRS. The IRS’s website has forms for each type of non-profit organization. These forms can be filled out online. The IRS website has online courses and workshops to help users understand the process.  
  • Confirm that your organization has acquired the necessary licenses and permits

1. Incfile

  • Named a Best Entrepreneurial Company by Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Dedicated exclusively to incorporating small businesses and non-profits
  • Assisted more than a quarter of a million small businesses

Incfile has garnered some major accolades in its 15+ years of business. The Houston-based company was named a Best Entrepreneurial Company by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2019, and it has helped more than a quarter of a million small businesses incorporate. 

Dedicated exclusively to getting small businesses off the ground, Incfile walks its customers through the tricky business of starting a non-profit, from filing the necessary articles of incorporation to filling out 501c3 forms to gaining tax-exempt status from the IRS. Easy, affordable, and known for providing its clients with personal attention, Incfile is a solid choice for those seeking hands-on guidance with a personal touch. 

Best for: Personal attention from award-winning business specialists

2. Swyft Filings

  • 100% money-back guarantee 
  • Helpful state guides and industry reports 
  • Exceptional customer service

Swyft Filings supplements its team of business specialists with a vast amount of resources to help small business owners stay informed and in control as they incorporate. Incorporation services range from LLC and S- and C-corporations to non-profits and includes a 100% money-back guarantee. Even though Swyft Filings will handle the paperwork and legal process, the company also offers one of the most impressive learning centers out there. It’s full of resources like state guides and industry reports, both of which can help business owners better understand the field and make informed decisions. 

Best for: Informational resources and exemplary customer service channels 

3. Rocket Lawyer 

  • Create your own legal documents 
  • On-call attorneys 

Rocket Lawyer offers small business owners peace of mind and confidence as they begin the process of incorporating. Unique to Rocket Lawyer is its document creation service, which saves clients time and money by allowing them to create and customize their own documents under the protection of attorneys. Services cater to LLCs, corporations, and non-profits alike, and unlike many other services, it includes post-incorporation legal guidance to keep clients on the right track. 

Best for: Quick services with supplemental legal advice

Scott Hirsch
Scott currently writes full-time for top10.com and has worked as a writer, editor, and researcher for top tech companies, including Groupon. Over the last decade he has covered stories in emerging tech, consumer trends, medical and wellness technology, media, science, and culture.