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How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in North Carolina

Experienced business attorneys counsel philanthropic entities in Raleigh, New Bern and Morehead City

If you want to start a nonprofit organization for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes, Howard Stallings can provide sound guidance throughout the process. Our attorneys have earned a reputation throughout North Carolina for providing reliable and personalized legal service. Because we know that the law can be complicated and confusing, we clearly explain every detail of forming a nonprofit organization.

Steps involved in starting a nonprofit organization

According to North Carolina business law, directors of nonprofit organizations must be at least 18 years old. The exception would be certain youth activity organizations, whose directors may be 16 years old. The steps you must complete to start your nonprofit organization follow:

Choose a name — The name you select for your nonprofit organization must be different from that of any other company operating in North Carolina. Additionally, you must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company” or “Limited,” or an abbreviation of one of those terms (“Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Co.” or “Ltd.”) in the name.

Prepare and file articles of organization — Your articles of organization must include:

  • The organization’s name
  • A statement that your organization is charitable or is religious
  • The address of the nonprofit’s initial registered office
  • The county where the office is located
  • The name of the initial registered agent at that address
  • The name and address of each incorporator
  • Whether the corporation will have members
  • How assets will be distributed
  • The address of the principal office

Prepare bylaws for your organization — Bylaws set the rules and regulations your corporation follows for elections, meetings and other corporate affairs in North Carolina.

Hold a meeting for the board of directors — Your board must discuss the bylaws, appoint officers and perform other tasks necessary to begin operations.

Set up a corporate records binder — Here is where you preserve important documents, such as articles of incorporation, bylaws and minutes of meetings.

Tax-Exempt Status —  If you wish to obtain tax-exempt status, you must determine whether you qualify for a specific exemption. If you qualify, you would then go through an extensive application process with the IRS.

For nonprofit corporation guidance, choose a business law firm serving North Carolina since 1983

Creating a nonprofit organization from scratch can be daunting. At Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A. we’re committed to helping you realize your vision. Whether you’re a veteran business owner or just starting out, we provide you with excellent legal care at every turn. To find out how our legal team can assist you in starting your nonprofit organization, call 919-821-7700 or contact us online.


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