Starting a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania requires a few simple steps. Incorporation is initiated by filing with the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (“Department of State”) and payment of fees.
A non-profit organization is an organization that is formed for either a charitable, educational, religious, scientific or literary purpose. Most non-profits are formed for tax purposes and are commonly referred to as 501(c)(3) organizations because they seek to have tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
By pursuing certain steps and maintaining some formalities, a non-profit organization can begin operations and enjoy tax-exempt status. To form a non-profit organization, prepare for the following:
Choose a name for your organization. The non-profit should identify itself by a name that is distinguishable from all other names of corporations, business entities and non-profit associations already registered. The Department of State can be contacted to determine if the proposed name of the organization already exists.
Choose at least one director. The non-profit should choose at least one director to be on the board of the organization. Directors are responsible for the governance of the corporation. Though only one director is required to register the non-profit with the Department of State, in order to obtain tax exempt status, the non-profit will need at least three directors. Directors should also be at least 18 years old.
Registered Agent. The director must find and name an individual who will be appointed as the registered agent for the organization. This individual is responsible for receiving legal notices on behalf of the organization. This person must be a resident of Pennsylvania and should maintain an office during normal business hours.
Articles of Incorporation. The non-profit organization will need to draft articles of incorporation and file with the Department of State. It also provides an online form that can be used to create the articles. The articles should provide the following:
Filing and payment of fees. Once the articles are drafted, they must be filed with the Department of State along with a filing fee.
Docketing Statement. Along with the articles and payment of a filing fee, a Docketing Statement must be filed. This statement is a form provided by the Department of State requiring certain information about the organization.
Publication of the Articles of Incorporation. Incorporators of the organization must publish the Articles of Incorporation in at least two newspapers. The organization must keep a copy of these publications in its records.
Bylaws. The non-profit organization must also prepare bylaws by which the organization plans to operate. The bylaws must also comply with Pennsylvania laws. These bylaws must be kept with the organization and utilized in conducting meetings, electing officers and define duties and responsibilities of directors and officers of the organization.
Employer Identification Number. The organization needs to apply for an Employer Identification Number with the IRS. This number can be used to open bank accounts, and file tax returns and obtain tax exempt status with IRS.
The Chester County business lawyers at MacMain Leinhauser have facilitated the formation of several non-profit organizations for our clients throughout Pennsylvania. Schedule a consultation by contacting us online or call our office at 484-318-7106. Our office is located in West Chester, Pennsylvania. We serve clients in Philadelphia, Chester County and throughout the state.