Choosing a non profit registered agent and establishing a non profit corporation is very similar to the process of establishing a for-profit organization. However, there are also some fundamental differences.

Articles of Incorporation

Similar to a for-profit corporation, the formation document for a nonprofit corporation is called the Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Incorporation. Although each state may have its own type of the Articles of Incorporation, much of the information required is similar.

Understanding How to Create a Nonprofit Corporation: Choosing a Name

The first step in forming any corporation is the requirement of giving it a name. In the case of a nonprofit organization, many states require an identifier like "Company," "Incorporated," or "Corp." You will need to check the availability of name prior to filling of the documents, as duplication of names is generally not accepted by the state. Most states won't allow you to incorporate with a name that already exists on their list as being the name of other corporation, whether domestic or foreign or any other business entity.

Understanding How to Create a Nonprofit Corporation: Defining Your Business Purpose

Defining the purpose of your organization is another important step and involves clarifying what exactly your nonprofit organization would do. In comparison to a for-profit business, the non-profit organization needs to define its purpose in a more detailed manner. For tax exemptions, the IRS requires a copy of your Articles of Incorporation and will pay more attention to the purpose of your business.

  • A 501(c)(3) Nonprofit is one of the most common types of nonprofit foundations. This type of business is usually incorporated for purposes that are philanthropic in nature and help other people in the fields of public safety, education, sports, cruelty towards animals, children, the elderly, or others.
  • These nonprofits are called 501(c)(3)s because they are incorporated for the purposes outlined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • One can view the IRS Organization Reference Chart for a listing of nonprofit classifications like 501(c)(4) through 501(c)(27) organizations.
  • Trademark and patent information should also be duly noted, in case you plan to trademark your organization.

Understanding How to Create a Nonprofit Corporation: Choosing a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required by all nonprofit organizations. As per the business law in the United States of America, an individual or a business that is notified when an organization is a party to a legal action is called a registered agent. In simple words, if your organization is sued, the lawsuit will be received by the registered agent.

The registered agent may also be called as the following, depending on your state:

  • Clerk
  • Agent for service of process
  • Statutory agent

The registered agent must have a physical address and should be available during usual office hours. In some states, the registered agent's address is the only one on file in the documents, hence its imperative for a registered agent to have an address for public records.

Understanding How to Create a Nonprofit Corporation: Choosing an Incorporator, Directors, and Officers

  • Incorporator. The company or person preparing and filling out the documents for the incorporation of the organization is called the incorporator. The name and signature and address of the incorporator is required by many states when filling the formation documents.
  • Directors. The individuals who are responsible for the overall functioning of the organization are called the board of directors. They direct the affairs of the organization and are also involved in all major decision making. Names and addresses of the directors are also required in a nonprofit's formation documents.
  • Officers. The individuals who are involved in the day to day functioning of the corporation are called officers. Their information may or may not be required for filling the documents, depending on the state. President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer are some of the common officer titles.

Registered Agent in District of Columbia

A D.C. registered agent had to be a resident of the District of Columbia under the previous nonprofit code.

Under the new rules, as long as a commercial entity maintains an office in D.C., they can serve as registered agents for a D.C. nonprofit. The nonprofit may also designate an individual who is a director, an officer, or an employee of the nonprofit, provided they have an operational office in D.C. The most important point here is the availability of that person during business hours.

If you need help with choosing a non profit registered agent, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience.