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Colorado Nonprofit Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Nonprofit in Colorado

To incorporate a nonprofit in Colorado, you’ll file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Colorado Secretary of State. This filing will officially create your corporation, but it is really just one step toward pursuing your nonprofit’s goals. The main steps to starting a Colorado nonprofit are as follows:

  1. File nonprofit Articles of Incorporation
  2. Get a federal EIN from the IRS
  3. Hold your organizational meeting and adopt bylaws
  4. Get a sales tax license from the Colorado Department of Revenue
  5. Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
  6. Register as a charity
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Colorado nonprofit Articles of Incorporation free download. When you’re done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Documents & Forms

How to File CO Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

To form a Colorado nonprofit, file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new nonprofit
Step 2 Describe your nonprofit’s purpose
Step 3 Decide what address you want to list publicly
Step 4 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 5 Decide if your nonprofit will have voting members
Step 6 Decide if you want to delay your nonprofit’s start date (up to 90 days)
Step 7 File online at the Colorado Secretary of State’s website and pay $50 with a credit card

How Long Does it Take to Start a Colorado Nonprofit?


Fast: 1 business day

Colorado requires all applicants to submit articles of incorporation through their online system, and it’s common to get approved on the same day.


Fast and Safe: 1 business day

Hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, and we’ll submit your articles for you. You’ll also get a full year of registered agent service, useful templates and business forms, and the expertise of our Corporate Guides. Let Northwest help you file everything correctly the first time.

How Much Does It Cost To Incorporate a Colorado Nonprofit?

Colorado charges a $50 filing fee to incorporate new nonprofits. If you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, the total cost, which includes a full year of registered agent service, is $275.

How Much Does A Colorado Nonprofit Cost Each Year?

Colorado requires nonprofits to submit a yearly periodic report updating the organization’s public information (current name, address, registered agent, etc.). The deadline gets set by your nonprofit’s periodic report month, which is just the anniversary month of your nonprofit’s formation, and there is a three month filing window. You will file online and pay a $10 filing fee.

If your nonprofit is registered as a charity, you must also renew your charitable solicitation registration each year with the Colorado Secretary of State. There is a $10 renewal fee.

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What Is The Colorado Nonprofit Periodic Report?

Colorado nonprofits must submit a yearly periodic report (equivalent to what most states call an “annual report”) to update the state’s records and keep the organization in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State. The report will state your nonprofit’s name, the name and address of your registered agent, and the address of your principal office.

The filing fee is $10, and you can file online at the Colorado Secretary of State’s website. Your annual filing window starts on the first day of the month in which you originally incorporated your nonprofit and ends on the last day of the month three months later.

Sound complicated? Sign up for Northwest’s Annual Report Filing Service, and we’ll file your periodic report for you—correctly and on time.

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Will My Colorado Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?

Unfortunately, nonprofits don’t automatically qualify for federal tax-exempt status. That requires a separate application to the IRS, a willingness to go through a long and expensive application process, and careful planning on your part. Currently, the IRS recognizes more than two dozen different types of tax-exempt organizations, but most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) status for public charities and private foundations. If your nonprofit intends to become a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, your Articles of Incorporation need to include specific language required by the IRS devoting your nonprofit’s activities exclusively to one or more exempt purposes.

If your nonprofit qualifies for federal tax-exempt status, it’s also exempt from the Colorado state income tax, but you’ll still have to apply separately to the Colorado Department of Revenue for an exemption from the state sales tax. See our Colorado Sales Tax Exemption page for details.

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Is A Colorado Nonprofit Registered Agent Required?

Yes, you’ll need to appoint a Colorado registered agent to receive legal notices for your nonprofit. The registered agent must be an individual Colorado resident or a business authorized to provide registered agent service, and the agent needs to be available at a physical address during normal business hours. You can take on the job yourself, of course, but it isn’t easy to manage and grow a nonprofit if you can’t hold lengthy meetings or travel. Hiring with a registered agent service like Northwest simply makes more sense.

If you hire Northwest, we will list our address on your public documents. This protects your privacy and prevents solicitors from showing up at your office or home address. And when we receive legal notices on behalf of your nonprofit, we will scan and send them to you on the day we receive them.

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Do I Have To Register My Nonprofit As A Charity In Colorado?

If your Colorado nonprofit solicits donations, you will need to register as a charity with the Colorado Secretary of State (and do it before soliciting donations!). To register create an online account with the Charities Division and pay a $10 filing fee. The renewal deadline for most charitable organizations is April 15th each year. See our Colorado charity registration page for details.

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Do I Need A Tax ID Number (EIN) For A Colorado Nonprofit?

Definitely. A federal employer identification number (EIN) is a must for opening a bank account in your nonprofit’s name, collecting donations, registering as a charity, and applying for federal and state tax-exemptions.

You can get an EIN from the IRS, online or by phone, after you’ve registered your Colorado nonprofit. Or save some time by adding our convenient EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit.

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Does A Colorado Corporation Need A Business License?

Colorado nonprofits aren’t required to seek a general, statewide business license, but counties, cities, and towns typically have their own business license requirements. Contact your local officials about the necessary business licenses in those locations where your nonprofit intends to do business.

Can I Register An Out Of State Nonprofit In Colorado?

Yes, you can register an out of state nonprofit (also called a “foreign nonprofit”) by filing the appropriate paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State. Visit our Colorado foreign nonprofit page for more details.

Does A Colorado Nonprofit Need Bylaws?

Yes, your Colorado nonprofit corporation needs bylaws, though you don’t need to file them with the state. Instead, bylaws are internal documents that guide your organization’s operations. They decide, for example, how long directors serve, how they get replaced, how many members are required to vote on a resolution, and who has power over what. Your nonprofit should adopt its bylaws at its first official meeting, either before filing your Colorado nonprofit Articles of Incorporation or shortly thereafter. Ratify your bylaws prior to seeking 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status from the IRS.

It isn’t easy to write bylaws, but Northwest is here to help. When you hire us to form your Colorado nonprofit, you’ll get access to free templates for writing your nonprofit’s bylaws, resolutions, meeting minutes, and more. Why? Because we want to serve as your nonprofit’s registered agent service year after year, and for that your nonprofit needs to start successful and stay successful. Your success is our success.

Colorado Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Your Nonprofit’s Name

You can do a name search at the Colorado Secretary of State’s website to make sure your nonprofit’s name isn’t taken. Colorado doesn’t have strict rules for naming a nonprofit, and it doesn’t require names to have specific endings like “Corporation,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” and so on. Other states do require endings of this kind, however, so you might include one if your nonprofit intends to operate in more than one state.

Principal Office

For your nonprofit’s principal office you must list a street address (along with a mailing address if different). If you hire Northwest, our address will go here.

Registered Agent

You can list a willing individual or hire and list a business, like Northwest, that provides registered agent service.

Registered Agent Address

This is the street address in Colorado where your registered agent is available during normal business hours. If you hire Northwest, you’ll list our address here.

Registered Agent Consent

Colorado requires you tick a box and confirm your registered agent’s consent to perform his or her official duties (so don’t just put a friend’s name down and surprise them later!).

Name and Address of the Incorporator

Your incorporator is just the person or entity forming your nonprofit, and it doesn’t have to be you, a director, an officer, or a member of your nonprofit. Hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, and we will be your incorporator.


Colorado does not require nonprofits to have voting members, but your Colorado Articles of Incorporation must decide this question in advance. Select “yes” or “no” on the form.

Provisions for the Dissolution of Assets

Describe what will happen to your nonprofit’s assets if you decide to shut the organization down. This could involve distributing those assets, for example, to other nonprofits or the government. However, if you intend to apply for federal tax-exempt status, make sure to use the recommended language from the IRS in your dissolution clause. The IRS will want to make sure your nonprofit’s income and assets won’t serve to enrich its members.

Effective Date

Colorado allows you to postpone your nonprofit’s start date up to 90 days from your filing date. If this option isn’t for you, just leave this section blank.

Individual Causing Delivery

“Individual causing delivery” is just a complicated way of identifying the person who clicks “submit” on your online form. In most cases, this is just the person forming your nonprofit. Our name goes here as well when you hire Northwest.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®