Learn How to Form an Indiana Nonprofit Corporation

Unlock the path to creating a non-profit corporation in Indiana and realize your philanthropic vision – our comprehensive guide equips you with essential insights, procedural details, and expert advice to navigate the formation process successfully.

While we don’t support nonprofit corporation formations at this time, we can create your Indiana corporation. Corp formation starts at $0 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes

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If you’re thinking about forming an Indiana nonprofit corporation but aren’t sure where to start, ZenBusiness can help. In this guide, we’ll explain how to create your nonprofit corporation and show you how to apply for tax-exempt status one step at a time.

Step 1: Select initial directors

Your Indiana nonprofit corporation must elect a board of directors who oversee the organization. The IRS doesn’t require it, but it’s strongly suggested that you have at least three directors. These should be individuals who provide a broad range of expertise and community representation, and they should not be related to each other.

Step 2: Choose a name

Every nonprofit entity in Indiana must have a distinct name. Your name must include the word “company,” “incorporated,” “corporation,” or “limited.” It’s okay to use abbreviations instead, such as “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”

Use Indiana’s online business lookup tool to check the availability of your preferred name. This is also a good time to see which names are available for your nonprofit’s website. Find your ideal domain name now. ZenBusiness makes it simple.

If you’ve settled on a name but aren’t ready to file the paperwork just yet, you have the option to reserve the name with the state for 120 days for a fee of $20.

Step 3: Choose an Indiana registered agent

The next step is choosing a registered agent. Your agent is the entity responsible for receiving legal notices (such as subpoenas) and official communications from the Indiana Secretary of State.

By state law, an Indiana registered agent must have a street address in Indiana. They must also be available in person during normal business hours in case of a delivery.

If you’re a resident of Indiana, you can be your nonprofit’s registered agent. To do this, you must list your Indiana home or office address on your nonprofit corporation’s forms, which means your address would be available to the public. You would also need to always be available at that address during all regular business hours. To ensure you never miss delivery of legal notices, consider hiring a commercial registered agent instead. Learn more about ZenBusiness’s registered agent service.

Step 4: File Articles of Incorporation with Indiana

Articles of Incorporation are the documents you’ll file to create your nonprofit corporation as a legal entity. To create and operate a nonprofit in Indiana, begin by filing Form 4162, titled “Articles of Incorporation for a Nonprofit Corporation.” On this form, provide basic information about your nonprofit, including its:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Purpose
  • Registered agent
  • Corporation type
  • Incorporators

Note that the IRS requires specific language under the “purpose” section for your nonprofit to qualify for tax-exempt status. For more information on suggested language, visit the IRS’s website.

If your nonprofit was created in another state but will operate in Indiana, you’ll need to file Form 56369 instead. This form is a Foreign Registration Statement.

Next, submit your Articles of Incorporation to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Business Services Division. You can do this online or by mail. The fee is $30.

Step 5: Create corporate bylaws

Prepare a document that contains all your corporation’s rules, known as bylaws. These guide how your nonprofit is governed. They detail its structure, organization, goals, conflict of interest policy, and process for voting, among other aspects. You can make amendments to your bylaws later, if necessary.

Step 6: Hold an organizational meeting for the board of directors

All the directors listed on your Articles of Incorporation should be present at the first meeting. Set aside enough time to accomplish several important tasks. These include:

  • Appointing at least three directors
  • Appointing officers including a secretary, treasurer, and president
  • Approving the organization’s bylaws

Record all meeting activity in your meeting minutes.

Step 7: Set up a corporate records binder

Meticulous minutes should be taken for every board meeting and kept on file in a corporate records binder or online cloud for as long as your organization exists. Store minutes along with your organization’s other important documents, including its:

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • EIN letter

Step 8: Get federal and state tax ID numbers

In the US, a nonprofit’s federal tax ID number is known as its Employer Identification Number or EIN. Apply for your EIN on the IRS website or let ZenBusiness help you get your EIN from the IRS.

Indiana nonprofit entities must also have a state Tax Identification Number, or TIN. To secure your organization’s TIN, register here. Please note that there’s a due date for submitting this form. It must be turned in within 120 days of your entity’s incorporation.

Step 9: Apply for all licenses and permits

As a founder, it’s your duty to obtain all necessary licenses and permits for your nonprofit. Because requirements vary at the local, state, and federal levels and by industry, each nonprofit may need different licenses and permits. Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop resource for looking up which ones you need. Save yourself the time and frustration. Get a complete, accurate report of all licenses and permits your nonprofit needs using ZenBusiness’s business license report service.

Step 10: Apply for tax-exempt status

Next, apply for tax-exempt status, which is usually a 501(c)(3) status. Having this status ensures the IRS recognizes that your organization is tax-exempt as a charitable nonprofit. To apply, you’ll need to fill out Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ and submit it online.

On average, application processing takes 3 to 6 months. After the IRS processes your application, you should receive an IRS determination letter.

Within 120 days of receiving your IRS approval letter, apply for Indiana state sales tax-exempt status with the Indiana Department of Revenue using Form NP-20A.

Step 11: Registering as a charity with the state

Indiana’s laws don’t require registration before you can begin fundraising in the state. If your nonprofit raises funds outside of Indiana, it may need to register as a charity in other states.

Keep in mind that if you decide to work with a professional solicitor, then that person must be registered with the state of Indiana.

Indiana Secretary of State Contact Information

200 W. Washington St., Room 201
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Office Hours:
8:00am – 4:30pm

Step 12: Acquire insurance for your nonprofit

Operating a nonprofit corporation has risks. Your entity may need one or more kinds of insurance to protect it from liability and loss. We suggest you contact a qualified insurance agent who can customize a policy for your organization’s needs.

Step 13: Open a bank account

To open an account for your nonprofit, you’ll need several pieces of documentation. These often include your EIN, TIN, and Articles of Incorporation. You’ll also need Social Security numbers and government-issued photo IDs for anyone who’ll be making transactions on your nonprofit’s behalf.

Ready to Kickstart 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 or are 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.

Indiana Nonprofit Corporation FAQs

  • The founder of a nonprofit usually ends up serving as either the chairman of the board or the chief executive officer. In this role, the founder may collect a reasonable salary in exchange for work performed on behalf of the nonprofit and its mission. It has to be roughly in line with similar positions.

  • There is a $50 fee for filing your Articles of Incorporation.

  • Although a nonprofit’s purpose is to help people, it is still a business entity and may have surplus revenue. As long as the money is eventually used for the group’s tax-exempt purposes, this is fine.

  • Many types of businesses can be eligible for nonprofit status. Generally speaking, a business may be considered a nonprofit if its purpose is to benefit the community instead of turning a profit for its founders. For example, a nonprofit may be a charity that focuses on educational or humanitarian work.

  • Yes, but the sales may be subject to Indiana sales taxes. If a nonprofit sells products for 30 or fewer days in a calendar year, it is exempt from sales tax that year. Otherwise, it has to collect and remit sales tax.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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