Have a passion that’s close to your heart? Want to help your community? Now’s the time to form a nonprofit. In the following, we’ll tell you all you need to know about how to form a Florida nonprofit corporation so you can start making a change today!
Steps to Form a Florida Nonprofit Corporation
Select the initial directors
In Florida, your nonprofit corporation must have at least three directors who are not related to one another.
Choose a name for your nonprofit corporation
Your name should be different from any other business name registered in Florida. Find out if your name of choice is taken by doing a Florida Name Search on the State of Florida Division of Corporations website. In addition to being unique, your name should reflect what kind of activities your corporation is going to carry out. Your name also must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Corp.,” or “Inc.” in its name.
Once you’ve chosen your name, you can reserve it with the Florida Secretary of State. If you like, you can use the convenient ZenBusiness Name Reservation Service to prevent anyone else from registering your name while you’re preparing to file.
Register a domain name to match your corporate name
You need a domain name for your website so you can start getting the word out about your nonprofit. You should choose a domain name that matches your chosen corporate name. Once you’ve identified the domain name you want, register it using ZenBusiness’s Domain Registration Service.
Choose a Florida registered agent
Your registered agent must have a physical address in Florida and has to be accessible during normal business hours. The function of a registered agent is to receive mail from the Secretary of State and legal documents, such as notices of lawsuits.
In Florida, a company can’t act as its own registered agent. While one of the directors can fulfill this function, it’s often hard for an individual to remain compliant. Instead, get the ZenBusiness Registered Agent Service, either as a stand-alone function or as a part of the Starter Package.
File the Articles of Incorporation
Before you can file the Articles of Incorporation, make sure you have the following information:
- Corporate name and address
- Registered agent name and address
- Nonprofits specific purpose
- Names of at least three directors and their addresses (optional)
- The way in which directors are chosen
- The effective date of the incorporation
- Contact information including email if filing online
Have the registered agent and the incorporator sign the forms. The incorporator is the person submitting the application. If applying online, they can type their names into the signature boxes.
If you’re planning to apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS, your corporate purpose may require specific wording. Check with the IRS to make sure your stated purpose is eligible for tax-exempt status.
If you submit the optional listing of at least three directors, it may make it easier to obtain a nonprofit corporation bank account. Directors are usually elected at the annual general meeting.
Your default effective date of incorporation is the date on which the Florida Division of Corporations receives your filing. You can specify another date from five days before the default to 90 days afterward.
Submit your filing in accordance with the State of Florida’s Division of Corporations instructions, either online or by mail. The latest instructions are available here.
Create corporate bylaws
Corporate bylaws detail when and how often meetings are held. Bylaws also determine how directors are appointed, removed from their position, and the rules by which the nonprofit will be governed. It’s important to keep a physical copy of the bylaws at the nonprofit’s primary location. Nonprofit corporations are often supported by members of the public and appropriate bylaws give them confidence that the corporation is well-run.
Hold an organizational meeting of the board of directors
Before you can start operations, your board of directors has to meet. This first meeting is called the organizational meeting. If you’ve created bylaws, this is when they’ll be approved. Your board will also determine its tax year, appoint officers, and approve the opening of a bank account. Everything needs to be documented in the minutes.
Set up the corporate records
Nonprofit corporation records are important for tax-exempt corporations. To keep their tax-exempt status, they must be able to satisfy the IRS requirements that they’re eligible.
You can keep the corporate records in a binder or keep digital copies online or in the cloud. Records typically include the incorporation documents, minutes of meetings of the board, and records of the annual general meetings.
Get your tax ID numbers
The federal tax ID number is the Employer Identification Number (EIN). You need it to secure the identity of your corporation as a separate entity for opening a bank account and hiring employees. You can get one through the IRs or use the ZenBusiness EIN Service. Then get your Florida tax ID number by opening an account with the Florida Department of Revenue.
Apply for all necessary licenses and permits
Most counties in Florida require you to have a business license, usually referred to as a business tax receipt. You may need other local business permits or state/federal licenses and permits as well. There’s no central place where you can determine what permits and licenses you need, but ZenBusiness can help. Use our Business License Report Service to identify what your nonprofit needs in order to be in compliance.
Apply for tax-exempt status and register as a charity
The federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status applies to charitable, religious, and educational organizations. You can apply on the IRS Tax Exempt Status page. You’ll also have to register with the Florida Department of Revenue to find out which Florida taxes you’ll have to pay.
Acquire insurance for your nonprofit
If you have employees, you’ll need unemployment insurance. Depending on the type of nonprofit you have, there may be other insurances you’ll need such as property insurance or director’s liability coverage. Get a reputable insurance agent to help you get the right coverage for your nonprofit.
Open a bank account
The kind of account you need depends on your operations. Shop around for a bank that offers what you want at a low cost. Before you open an account, your board of directors has to decide who can sign for the corporation and how many signatures are required.
Looking/Ready to Kick Start Your Business?
At ZenBusiness, we are proud to support small businesses through a variety of different tools and services. Whether you need a registered agent service, want to reserve a business name, or looking to register a domain, our goal is to help you stay on the road to success. Check out our services, and contact us today to see how we can help you grow your company.
Florida Nonprofit Corporation FAQs
- Can the founder of a Florida nonprofit receive a salary?
Yes, but they must be registered as an employee with both the business and the IRS.
- How much does it cost to start a nonprofit corporation in Florida?
As of March 2021, the filing fees for a Florida nonprofit corporation are $35 for filing and $35 for the registered agent designation.
- What happens if a Florida nonprofit makes money?
If a nonprofit makes money, it has to spend the excess on the purpose for which it was incorporated.
- What kinds of Florida businesses can be a nonprofit?
Corporations operated for a purpose other than profit can be nonprofits, specifically, if they’re charitable, educational, religious organizations, scientific, or veterans’ organizations. Can nonprofits sell products? Yes. A nonprofit can sell products related to its purpose. If there’s any resulting excess income, it has to be spent on its registered purpose.