This article is written with the assumption that you have already prayed, fasted and asked God for direction. At this point, you are ready to form your church or ministry as a Non-Profit Corporation. Some information to get you started can be found here. Your Secretary of State’s Office will have specific requirements for your particular state.
- Choose or Reserve an Available Name. Your state office will have instructions on incorporating your church or ministry and how to conduct a name search.
- File your Articles of Incorporation and pay the filing fee. Once you file the Articles of Incorporation, your name will be registered. Some states call this Articles of Organization, Certificate of Incorporation, Certificate of Formation or a Charter. Make sure your articles conform with your state’s non-profit laws.
- Apply for your Federal 501 (c)(3) Tax Exemption. After the state returns copy of your Articles of Incorporation, you can submit your 501 (c)(3) tax exempt application to the IRS. You will need IRS Form 8718. Complete instructions are in IRS Publication 557. After the IRS has reviewed your application they will either approve it or request additional information. If your application is denied, you might want to seek the help of an attorney that specializes in non-profit organizations.
- Create Corporate Bylaws. Bylaws can be written with a self-help document, from a model set of bylaws or with the assistance of an attorney. Your bylaws set the standard by which your corporation will be governed.
- Appoint your Board of Directors. All non-profits are required to have a board of directors. The board is responsible for running the corporation and making major decisions. Most states require at least three directors, some states will allow only one.
- Hold your first board meeting. Adopt your bylaws and elect officers.
For your convenience, a list of Secretary of State Offices can be found on our Resource Page.