In this guide, we’ll tell you what you need to know about forming a North Dakota nonprofit corporation, and how to apply for tax-exempt status.
To start, choose three or more directors for your corporation’s board. These individuals will oversee your nonprofit’s activities and ensure that its funds are used to fulfill its purpose. In North Dakota, directors can serve terms from one to 10 years. They can be residents of other states but can’t be related.
Your nonprofit’s name can’t be the same as, or similar to, that of an existing business. To find out if your preferred name is available, search the Secretary of State’s business records online at sos.nd.gov. If your name is available, make sure it doesn’t include the words “limited liability company,” or “limited partnership.” You can put a hold on a name for up to 120 days.
Once you’ve settled on a name, see if it’s available as a domain name for your nonprofit’s website. ZenBusiness can help you register your domain name so you can start getting the word out about your nonprofit.
Next, you need to select a registered agent to accept legal notices and service of process for your nonprofit corporation. Your agent must have a physical street address in North Dakota and keep regular business hours.
Although you can be your nonprofit’s registered agent, this means you must be available at the address you list during business hours. Rather than risk missing an important legal notice or being tied to one place all the time, most people choose a company to act as their registered agent. Keep your nonprofit compliant with ZenBusiness’s registered agent service. The registered agent will accept documents on behalf of your nonprofit and upload them to your ZenBusiness dashboard.
Now, it’s time to file the Articles of Incorporation. You can use the Nonprofit Corporation Articles of Incorporation form on the Secretary of State’s website, though you’ll need to create an account. Alternatively, you can create your own, using theirs as a guide. In either case, you must include:
Once the Articles are accepted, your nonprofit corporation is official.
Your nonprofit is considered a foreign corporation if it was incorporated in another state. To do business in North Dakota, your foreign nonprofit will need a Certificate of Authority. You can apply for one by filling out a Foreign Nonprofit Corporation Certificate of Authority Application at the Secretary of State’s office. Include a copy of your nonprofit’s Certificate of Good Standing or Certificate of Existence dated within the past 90 days.
Draft the laws that describe how you’ll manage your nonprofit corporation. You aren’t required to file these bylaws with the state, but you must have and use them. Topics include:
During your first organizational meeting, you’ll appoint directors, name officers, and adopt bylaws.
Maintain an accurate record of all meetings and keep copies of all business documents in a safe location. You can do this in a binder or electronically.
Next, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. You can get one through the IRS or take advantage of ZenBusiness’s affordable EIN service and save yourself the time. We’ll handle the application process for you, then upload your EIN documentation to your personalized online dashboard.
At the state level, you don’t need a general business registration, but you should register for any applicable state tax accounts. Learn more at the North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner’s website.
Licensing and permit requirements vary depending on your nonprofit’s location, industry, and activities. For example, if your nonprofit wants to hold a raffle or other charitable game, you need a permit from the North Dakota Attorney General. There’s no easy tool available to look up all local, state, and federal requirements. Our business license report takes out the guesswork and helps you know which licenses and permits you need to legally operate. Get your report today.
To apply for federal tax-exempt status, also known as 501(c)(3) status, you’ll need to fill out IRS Form 1023 and submit it online. There’s a long form and a short one. Read the instructions to see which form applies to your corporation.
There’s no need to apply separately for a state corporate income tax exemption. After the IRS recognizes your tax-exempt status, North Dakota will follow suit. Keep in mind that your nonprofit may be responsible for other kinds of taxes. For more information, visit North Dakota’s Tax Agency website.
Your nonprofit will need to register with the Secretary of State to raise funds.
Even the most carefully run nonprofit has risk. It’s smart to get general liability insurance. Those with employees need unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. Because every nonprofit corporation’s insurance needs differ, it’s best to consult a qualified insurance agent to minimize your nonprofit’s risks.
Now you can open a bank account. This will keep your nonprofit’s assets separate from your personal ones.
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.
Yes. Nonprofit founders that work as employees can receive a fair salary in exchange for their work.
Extra earnings are reinvested into the nonprofit.
Many businesses can be nonprofits as long as they serve charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes. Contact the North Dakota Secretary of State for more information if you’re unsure about your business qualifying as a nonprofit.
Yes, but in North Dakota, most nonprofits need to collect sales taxes and remit them to the state.
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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