However, it may seem complicated, but it’s a fairly straightforward process with easy-to-follow steps. This guide shows you how to form a nonprofit corporation in Oklahoma. In it, you’ll find the most important information you need to get your organization up and running.
Steps to Form an Oklahoma Nonprofit Corporation
- Select initial directors
- Choose a name
- Choose an Oklahoma registered agent
- File Certificate of Incorporation with Oklahoma
- Create corporate bylaws
- Hold an organizational meeting for the board of directors
- Get tax ID numbers
- Apply for Oklahoma licenses and permits
- Apply for tax-exempt status
- Register as a charity with the state
- Acquire insurance for your nonprofit
- Open a bank account
Step 1: Select initial directors
To register as a nonprofit corporation in Oklahoma, you’ll need to provide at least three incorporators to the secretary of state’s office. Incorporators may be individuals, other corporations, partnerships, or associations, and they can reside or be located in any state. You’ll need at least one initial director on your board to file for incorporation with the state.
Step 2: Choose a name
There are certain naming restrictions you must follow to qualify for tax-exempt status. The name needs to be distinguishable from any other corporation or business entity that’s on record at the time of filing. It must also contain one of the following words:
A name’s availability can be checked online via the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s website. Oklahoma allows you to reserve a name for 60 days so that no one else can take it during the incorporation filing process. You can reserve a name yourself or have ZenBusiness’s name reservation service do it on your behalf.
You should also consider choosing a domain name for the Oklahoma nonprofit corporation’s website. Availability for your name may be checked at any domain registrar. ZenBusiness’s domain registration service can handle all the details for you. This lets you focus on the next steps of getting your nonprofit up and running.
Step 3: Choose an Oklahoma registered agent
It’s a requirement for an Oklahoma nonprofit corporation to have a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or business that receives legal notices and other documents from the secretary of state on behalf of your nonprofit. If your corporation is sued, the registered agent will be the one who receives this documentation and sends it to you. Your registered agent must have a physical address in Oklahoma and be available for contact during business hours.
It’s possible to appoint yourself as the registered agent for your own nonprofit, but there are several disadvantages to doing so. Some reasons for having a third-party registered agent include:
Availability during business hours. As a registered agent, you’ll need to be available to receive important documents and notifications during regular business hours. This can be a problem if you’re unable to stay in the office all day.
Discretion. If your business address and the registered agent address are the same, you could be served papers for a lawsuit at your place of business…in front of customers. That could be bad for your company’s reputation.
Convenience. If your business address and registered agent address are the same, you’ll definitely have to notify the state as soon as possible if the business moves. Using a registered agent service means that your registered agent address can stay the same even if you move, giving you one less thing to worry about.
ZenBusiness’s registered agent service can eliminate many of these annoyances by receiving legal notices and correspondence from the secretary of state on your behalf.
Step 4: File Certificate of Incorporation with Oklahoma
Your Certificate of Incorporation is filed with the secretary of state and must include:
- The nonprofit’s name
- Name and address of the registered agent
- Names and addresses of incorporators
- The nonprofit’s purpose and duration
Step 5: Create corporate bylaws
Your nonprofit’s bylaws define the size of its board, roles of directors and officers, rules for meetings, and guidelines for conflicts of interest. They also address how funds are distributed and how property will be disposed of if the organization disbands.
Step 6: Hold an organizational meeting for the board of directors
At the first meeting of your board of directors, the board should approve bylaws, appoint officers, and set an accounting period and tax year. This is also a good time to set up a corporate record binder. Records should be stored in a secure location, such as the cloud.
Step 7: Get tax ID numbers
Your nonprofit will need to apply for a federal employer identification number (EIN). ZenBusiness’s EIN service can take care of this for you. You’ll also need to apply for a state tax ID number with the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Step 8: Apply for Oklahoma licenses and permits
It’s your responsibility to obtain all necessary licenses and permits for your nonprofit corporation. There is no central location to check what licenses you’ll need, as licensing can vary on the local, state, and federal level. Required licenses can also vary depending on industry. ZenBusiness offers a business license report service that determines what licenses your nonprofit needs.
Step 9: Apply for tax-exempt status
To obtain tax-exempt status, you’ll need to complete and file Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ with the IRS. A 1023 is for larger businesses applying for tax-exempt status and has a $600 filing fee. The 1023-EZ form is for smaller businesses. It’s much shorter (3 pages) and has a lower filing fee of $275. Once the IRS grants you this status, you’ll be automatically exempt from Oklahoma income tax, as well.
Step 10: Register as a charity with the state
You’re required to register as a charity in Oklahoma if your nonprofit collects donations of any kind. To do so, complete the Registration Statement of Charitable Organization and file it with the secretary of state. Also include:
- Names and addresses of each officer, director, and salaried employee
- Professional fundraiser information form, if applicable
- The organization’s most recent tax filing or IRS letter of determination
Step 11: Acquire insurance for your nonprofit
You’ll need to obtain property insurance to protect items of value from damage or theft. General liability insurance can help protect you from accident claims filed against your nonprofit. Insurance requirements vary widely depending on the type of corporation and other factors. It’s best to consult a qualified insurance agent to determine the coverage you need.
Step 12: Open a bank account
You can open a bank account for your nonprofit using your EIN. Benefits may include low opening balance requirements, free checks, money orders, and no monthly maintenance fees.
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, 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.
Oklahoma Nonprofit FAQ
- Can the founder of a nonprofit receive a salary?
A nonprofit’s founder can pay themselves a fair and reasonable salary for the work they do. This salary is paid from the organization’s gross revenues and considered part of its operating costs.
- How much does it cost to start a nonprofit corporation in Oklahoma?
As of this writing, there is a $25 fee to file a Certificate of Incorporation and a $600 fee to file for federal tax-exempt status. Alternatively, you may file Form 1023-EZ, which costs $275 to file. Form 1023-EZ is an abbreviated version of the exemption application and available to certain small organizations only. There is also a fee to register as a charitable organization in Oklahoma. The fee is $65 if anticipated contributions exceed $10,000 or $15 for contributions below that amount. Check with the state of Oklahoma for a current fee schedule.
- What happens if a nonprofit makes money?
A nonprofit is allowed to earn money in order to fund its activities and operations. These profits aren’t usually taxed. If the money was earned via unrelated business activities, however, it’s typically subject to an unrelated business income tax.
- What kinds of businesses can be a nonprofit?
A corporation can be considered a nonprofit if its work is educational, religious, charitable, or scientific. It may also be a nonprofit if it’s another type of work that benefits the public. This includes businesses such as licensed non-residential daycare centers, food banks, and low-income housing organizations.
- Can nonprofits sell products?
Nonprofits are allowed to sell goods and services in order to raise money for the organization. These sales are tax-exempt as long as they’re related to the fundraising goals or mission of the corporation and you have your IRS 501(c)(3) status. No matter what your nonprofit’s goals are, proper planning in the startup phase is the key to lasting success. These include planning the structure, getting the right people in the right place, and applying for the right permits, licenses, and certificates. If you’ve followed the steps in this guide, you’ve built a foundation for your Oklahoma nonprofit corporation that will serve you well for years to come.
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