Form a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation

According to the New Jersey Center for Nonprofits, there are more than 38,000 501(c)(3) organizations in the Garden State. Contact us today to see how we can help you grow your nonprofit.

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The state is full of caring people, with more than 1.6 million New Jerseyans volunteering 225 million hours at nonprofits each year. If you want to make the world a better place, forming a New Jersey nonprofit corporation is a good place to start.

As an incorporated body, you can claim tax-exempt status and put more money toward your cause. This article can show you how to form a nonprofit corporation in New Jersey and answers some common questions about operating a nonprofit.

Steps to Form a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation

Select initial directors

In New Jersey, your nonprofit corporation must have at least three directors. The IRS doesn’t officially mandate a certain number of directors, but their processes strongly suggest that nonprofits have at least three.

Choose a name

The name of your nonprofit organization must be distinguishable from all other New Jersey businesses. In addition, it must include one of the following phrases:

  • A New Jersey nonprofit corporation
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation
  • Inc.
  • Corp.

Check whether your preferred name is available on the New Jersey business name search. If you’re not ready for filing, you can reserve your business name for up to 120 days. The form requires you to list your preferred name plus three alternates, in case the first is not available. ZenBusiness can take care of business name reservation paperwork for you, so you can concentrate on starting your nonprofit.

Before deciding on a name, you should also confirm that there’s a domain available that fits your charity’s name. Alternatively, let ZenBusiness secure a domain that aligns with your new business name.

Choose a New Jersey registered agent

A registered agent is the point of contact between the state and a corporation. The agent accepts documents on behalf of organizations, including letters from the government and legal notices, such as subpoenas for a lawsuit. In New Jersey, a registered agent can be an individual or a business that’s registered and in good standing with the state. They must also have a street address in New Jersey. Your registered agent must agree to be appointed.

Serving as your own agent can present problems, though, such as always having to be available at the office during normal business hours. ZenBusiness’s registered agent service can forward all important documentation promptly while protecting your director’s privacy.

File Certificate of Incorporation with New Jersey

To incorporate your New Jersey nonprofit corporation, you must file a Business Registration Form (NJ-REG) with the New Jersey Division of Revenue. This form can be filed online. The fee is $75 unless you’re a religious organization, then the fee is $5 as long as you follow Title 16 procedures.

Corporations that intend to file for tax-exempt status should make sure they comply with IRS requirements when filing in New Jersey. The IRS requires specific wording relating to the business purpose and what happens to assets if the charity dissolves. It also requires a statement that the organization won’t engage in prohibited activities or activities unrelated to its purpose. The New Jersey form doesn’t have space for all of this information, but it can be added as an attachment. The IRS has information about the wording required on their website.

Create corporate bylaws

Corporate bylaws for New Jersey nonprofit corporations must comply with state laws. They should cover the procedures for meetings, electing officers, and taking care of other formalities required by the state. The bylaws don’t need to be filed with the state, but some information may be required on incorporation forms.

Hold an organizational meeting for the board of directors

At the first meeting, the board of directors must approve bylaws and appoint officers. They may also need to approve initial transactions, such as opening a bank account.

Set up a corporate records binder or other means of keeping records

You must keep important records, such as meeting minutes and bylaws. Many organizations use a records binder for this purpose, but records can also be stored electronically on the cloud or through encrypted data software. Just make sure records remain secure.

Get tax ID numbers

Corporations must have a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). This number identifies you to the IRS and also allows you to open bank accounts in the organization’s name. ZenBusiness’s EIN service can secure your EIN.

Incorporated bodies in New Jersey also receive a 10-digit identification number from the state. You can get your identification number here.

Apply for all necessary licenses and permits

The licenses and permits your New Jersey nonprofit requires depend on where it’s located, its purpose, and its fundraising efforts. This is because licenses and permits can be required at a federal, state, or local level. In New Jersey, any nonprofit that raises money through bingo, raffles, or casino nights must register with the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission. ZenBusiness’s business license report service can help you identify any licenses and permits you may require.

Apply for tax-exempt status

To apply for federal income tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3), you must file Form 1023 with the IRS. Smaller nonprofits may be able to file the streamlined Form 1023-EZ.

Corporations that receive a tax-exempt status from the IRS are automatically exempt from the New Jersey Corporation Business tax. Charities can receive exemption from collecting state sales taxes on certain thrift store sales or occasional fundraising sales. To qualify for this tax exemption, file Form REG-1E to apply for an Exempt Organization Certificate.

Register as a charity with the state

Most nonprofit corporations need to register with the state before fundraising. Small charities that receive less than $10,000 each year and don’t use professional fundraisers can choose not to register.

Acquire insurance for your nonprofit

Insurance requirements can differ widely depending on the type of work you do, how many assets you have, and whether you have employees. New Jersey nonprofit corporations that have employees will require unemployment insurance as well as worker’s compensation insurance. It’s best to consult a qualified insurance agent to determine any other insurance needs.

Open a bank account

Once you have an EIN, you can open a corporate bank account. This is essential to keeping your personal finances separate from the charity’s.

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 nonprofit.

New Jersey Nonprofit FAQ

  1. Can the founder of a nonprofit receive a salary?

    Directors of New Jersey nonprofit corporations can be paid a fair salary for the work they do, much as an employee is. However, the IRS states that any wages cannot be excessive, and it regularly audits the salaries of nonprofits to ensure this rule is followed. Paying an excessive wage to anyone may lead to the loss of tax-exempt status.

  2. How much does it cost to start a nonprofit corporation in New Jersey?

    The filing fee for a New Jersey corporation is $75, and you’ll also need to pay charity registration fees. These vary from $30 to $250, depending on how much money the charity makes. There is a filing fee when applying for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. This is $275 for the streamlined form, or $600 for larger nonprofits using the standard form.

  3. What happens if a nonprofit makes money?

    Any money made by a nonprofit must be reinvested into the corporation. The money can be used for operating expenses, furthering the cause of the nonprofit, or saved to pay for these things in the future.

  4. What kinds of businesses can be a nonprofit?

    The Internal Revenue Code states that nonprofit corporations must be formed for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes. However, the way businesses further their cause can differ widely. Nonprofit corporations can include hospitals, colleges, food banks, and community groups.

  5. Can nonprofits sell products?

    Yes, nonprofits can sell donated or new products to raise money for their corporation. Profits must be reinvested into the corporation or go toward furthering their cause. Many nonprofits sell branded items to continue their good works and raise awareness for their cause.