How to Start a Nonprofit in Georgia

Trying to figure out how to start a nonprofit organization in Georgia can be an easy task when you break it down into the following small steps. 

Board of Directors

One of your first tasks will be to determine who will serve on the Board of Directors for your nonprofit organization.  In the State of Georgia, you must have at least one director on the board.  However, you’ll want to determine what if there are advantages to having more board members to help spread out the work.  In addition, the mix of skillsets each board member will bring to your nonprofit is important in building the foundation of your new organization. 

Additionally, Georgia requires the directors be:

  • A natural person whose age is 18 years or older
  • Have a term of 1 year and must be elected by the majority of the incorporators.

Georgia officer requirements: 

  • Defined in articles or bylaws
  • One officer prepares minutes of the meetings and authenticates the records of the organization
  • The same individual may hold two or more offices.

Appoint a Registered Agent

Your organization must appoint a registered agent who is physically located in the state of Georgia and maintains an office that is open during regular business hours. The registered agent is responsible for receiving any legal notices on behalf of the organization.

Choose a Name

The name of your nonprofit organization should symbolize what the organization will focus on. Before you settle on a name, remember that the name cannot be the same as any other nonprofit organization on file with the Georgia Secretary of State. You can search Georgia’s database of organization names to make sure you don’t duplicate names. The organization’s name should end with a corporate designator such Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.), or Limited (Ltd.).

Prepare and File your Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

All nonprofit organizations must submit their Articles of Incorporation to the Georgia Secretary of State.  These articles of incorporation need to include the following information about the corporation: name of the organization, mission statement of the organization, basic company information, information required for state and federal tax-exempt purposes, and the name and address of the registered agent.

Publish a Notice of Intent to Incorporate

Georgia requires a new nonprofit organization must publish a notice of incorporation a day after filing articles of incorporation. This notice must be in the county where the registered office of the nonprofit is located.  The Notice of Intent has to be published in a newspaper where at least 60% of the subscriptions are paid for. The applicant should follow the publishing format provided by the state of Georgia for this notice.

Prepare Bylaws 

Company by-laws must comply with Georgia law and contains policies and procedures the organization will use as an outline for holding meetings, electing officers, and taking care of other corporate requirements that state requires.

File for Federal Tax Exemption

To apply for federal tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, your nonprofit must submit Form 1023, the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This form will require you to provide detailed information about the organization, including the finances, history of the organization, the organization structure and board of directors, governance policies and procedures, and your operational activities.

Small nonprofits whose total assets of less than $250,000 and has projected annual gross receipts of less than $50,000 and are able to use the shorter and easier 1023-EZ application. 

Obtain Georgia state tax exemption

Once your nonprofit has a federal tax exemption, you can apply for a Georgia state tax exemption by completing an application of exemption to the state tax agency.  Depending on your agency, your approved application may include exemptions from property, sales, income and other state taxes.

Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

A unique nine-digit number EIN is assigned by the IRS to each nonprofit organization. All nonprofits must have an EIN, not only those that have employees. Your organization will use their EIN to open bank accounts, apply for 501c3 status, and submit tax returns to the IRS.

Cost to Form a Nonprofit

You will incur the following fees when starting a nonprofit organization:

  • $100 to file Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit in the State
  • $40 for publication of the Notice of Intent to Incorporate
  • IRS filing fee of $850 (if your organization’s annual revenues are below $10,000 the filing fee is $400)

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