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How to Start a New York Nonprofit Organization

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NOTICE

Currently, Northwest does not provide registered agent services for forming nonprofit corporations in New York, but we still included a step-by-step overview below for how to form one on your own. However, if you want to start a for-profit business in New York,  you can hire us as your New York registered agent, and you’ll instantly have the New York LLC or corporation forms to file along with filing instructions on the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient way to incorporate a New York corporation or form a New York LLC. You’ll get the ongoing support of our online tools, reminders and the support of a professional New York registered agent service.

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HOW TO START A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK

NAME IT

The name of your nonprofit 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.

The name of the NY nonprofit Corporation needs the word “Incorporated” “Corporation” “Limited” “Inc.” “Corp.” or “Ltd.” Religious nonprofits have no word requirements.

There are some additional name restrictions when you are starting a nonprofit in New York:

NY State Restricted Words Nonprofit
NY State Prohibited Words Nonprofit

GET ORGANIZED

Pick your initial directors ahead of time also, as their names and addresses must be in the Certificate of Incorporation. A New York nonprofit must have at least three initial directors.

INCORPORATE

Read the Not-for-Profit Incorporation Guide carefully to figure out your nonprofit “Type” classification before you complete your formation document. You may download the PDF file at the bottom of this page.

GET APPROVED

Nonprofits 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.

TALK TO THE MAN

File the completed Certificate of Incorporation with the NY Department of State with needed attachments and fee.  You’ll get an EIN number with the IRS.  If you want to be a New York tax exempt organization, 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.

HAVE A MEETING

After you file your New York certificate of incorporation, hold an organizational meeting when you must vote to approve your bylaws.

RAISE THOSE FUNDS

Forming a successful NY nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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.

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 nonprofit 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 nonprofits helping neglected children need approval from NY Office of Children & Family Services. See our NY Nonprofit Agency Approval Contact page for details.

New York Nonprofit 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

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®