7 Steps to Starting Your Nonprofit Business in North Carolina

Starting a nonprofit in North Carolina takes more than your passion and finding individuals who support your cause. Follow these steps and take advantage of free counseling for a smooth launch.

STEP 1:  Incorporate

Visit the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State website (www.sosnc.gov/corporations/) to complete your Articles of Incorporation. These legal documents you will file, along with a $60 fee, will officially incorporate your nonprofit organization. To learn more download a helpful guide at: www.sosnc.gov/corporations/pdf/NonprofitCorporation.pdf

STEP 2: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to business entities operating in the United States for the purposes of identification. It is also commonly referred to as a tax ID number and can be setup online at: https://sa.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp or you may download a paper Form SS-4 which can be mailed to the IRS. The paper form can be downloaded at: https://sa.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/help/keyword.jsp?keyword=Form%20SS-4

STEP 3: Open a Bank Account

Go to the bank and request to setup up a separate account for the newly formed nonprofit organization. You’ll need to bring the approved copy of the Articles of Incorporation along with the letter from the Internal Revenue Service with the Employer Identification Number (EIN) that has been assigned to your nonprofit.

STEP 4: Develop a Board of Directors and Establish Bylaws

The board of directors governs your nonprofit and has oversight of all the activities. They help set and carry out the mission, strategies and goals of the organization. The IRS does not have guidelines to determine who is certified to be on a board, but select members who are passionate about the vision and bring expertise to help achieve goals. Establish bylaws as a formal written document detailing the rules and processes the organization and its members will follow. To discuss setting up a board or creating bylaws, you may schedule an appointment with a nonprofit counselor at the CPCC Small Business Center by calling 704-330-6736 or visiting: www.cpcc.edu/sbc/businesscounseling

STEP 5: Apply for 501(C)3 status

Apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) through the completion of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form 1023. This will include submission of your bylaws, other supporting documentation, and the filing fee. (Fee is based on your operating budget).

STEP 6: Charitable Solicitation License

To solicit charitable contributions, you must apply for and obtain a Charitable Solicitation License from the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State. This license is required by most, however there are a few exemptions from this licensure requirement which are listed in the Incorporating Your Nonprofit in North Carolina Guide available at: www.sosnc.gov/corporations/pdf/NonprofitCorporation.pdf

STEP 7: Develop a Fundraising Plan

Now that the nonprofit organization has been granted legal life to operate and solicit funds, you’ll want to plan your fundraising. Common ways are seeking grants, soliciting pledges online or in-person, and/or earning income from services. Keep in mind, a best practice is to use a mix of ways to generate income, rather than rely on grants alone for example. To increase your chances of success with grants, CPCC’s Small Business Center offers a course titled “From Grant Seeking to Grant Writing.” Learn more by calling 704-330-6736.