Note: Due to the bureaucracy and complicated nature of forming a nonprofit corporation in the state of New York, Northwest does not offer incorporation services for NY nonprofits. We do, however, provide helpful information to help you form a NY nonprofit yourself, and we are happy to provide trustworthy, gimmick-free registered agent service for your non-profit.

How to start a New York non profit organization:

  • The name of your non profit must be clearly different for other corporate names in New York. New York recommends that you file an Application for Reservation of Name. However, you can save time and money by just searching the business entity database to see if there are any corporations with a similar name.
  • Read the Not-for-Profit Incorporation Guide carefully to figure out your non profit “Type” classification before you complete your formation document. Download the PDF below or find it in your online account if you hire “Northwest” as your NY registered agent.
  • Pick your initial directors ahead of time also, as their names and addresses must be in the Certificate of Incorporation.
  • New York restricts the use of certain words in the corporate name. You can follow the links to the below on New York Word Approval to check the list and see the agency to contact for consent to use the restricted word in your corporate name:
    New York restricted words
    New York prohibited words
  • In addition, Non profits formed for certain purposes require the approval of other NYS governmental agencies. This written consent has to be attached to the Certificate of Incorporation when it is submitted to the NY Department of State for filing.
  • You file the completed Certificate of Incorporation with the NY Department of State with needed attachments and fee.  You get an EIN number with the IRS.  If you want to be a New York tax exempt organization, you apply for tax exemption first with the IRS, and then at the state level with the New York State Tax Department. Then, you’ll want to fundraise so register with the NY Attorney General, Charities Bureau, to obtain your charity registration.
  • After you file your New York certificate of incorporation, you hold an organizational meeting when you must vote to approve your bylaws.
  • Forming a successful NY non profit takes an intensive team effort. Be sure to decide who will serve as the initial directors.  Decide who will be responsible for the initial formation fees and expenses and if and when the NY nonprofit will pay people back.  Appoint one person to deal with the NY Department of State.

How much does it cost to start a New York non profit organization?

The filing fee for NY Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation is $75. The NY Division of Corporations accepts check, money order or credit card. If faxing, use the Credit Card Authorization form. New York will expedite 24-hour processing for an additional $25.
NY Charities registration:  $25
NY tax exemption application fee:  $0

How long does it take to form a New York nonprofit organization?

Certificate of Incorporation:  Two weeks normal processing, one day expedited.
IRS tax exemption:  At least three months.
New York tax exemption:  Approximately three months.
New York charity registration: Three weeks.

What do I need to include on my Certificate of Incorporation?

You will need to list at least three initial directors. You need one or more incorporators. You don’t need to furnish a principle or mailing address of the non profit, just for the agent for service of process. The registered agent does not need to sign.

Will I have to describe the purpose of the New York nonprofit?

Yes, New York requires the ‘Purpose’ paragraph of the Certificate of Incorporation to contain an explanation of why the nonprofit has been formed, what it plans to achieve and how it will accomplish its purpose.

What are the annual fees to keep my New York nonprofit organization active?

New York Department of State: No NY Annual Reports for Nonprofits.
NY Charities Bureau: File a renewal each year by May 15th. The fee varies depending on your annual revenue raised. From $25 to $1500.
NY Dept. of Taxation: File an annual return-no fee.

What do I need to do to fundraise in New York?

You will need to register with the Charities Bureau of the New York Attorney General. You submit a Registration Statement with attachments and a filing fee to register as a NY charity.

Is there anything weird about incorporating in New York State?

If your non profit has a charitable purpose other than religious, you will need a written consent attached to your certificate of incorporation from another NY agency; such as non profits helping neglected children need approval from NY Office of Children & Family Services. See our NY Nonprofit Agency Approval Contact page for details.

New York Non Profit Formation Agency:

New York Department of State
Division of Corporations
One Commerce Plaza,
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Ph:  (518) 473-2492
Fax:  (518) 474-1418

Download Files:

Adobe PDF Not-for-Profit Incorporation Guide