How To Start A Nonprofit In New Hampshire
To start a nonprofit corporation in New Hampshire, you must file Articles of Agreement of a New Hampshire Nonprofit Corporation (Form NP-1) with the New Hampshire Secretary of State. You can submit your nonprofit's articles online or by mail. The articles of agreement cost $25 to file. Once filed with the state, your articles of agreement officially create your New Hampshire nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.
Starting a New Hampshire Nonprofit Guide:
- Choose your NH nonprofit filing option
- File the NH nonprofit articles of agreement
- Get a Federal EIN from the IRS
- Adopt your NH nonprofit's bylaws
- Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
- Apply for any required state licenses
- Open a bank account for your NH nonprofit
- Submit the NH business report every 5 years
New Hampshire Nonprofit Filing Options
Free PDF Download
Download the New Hampshire Nonprofit Articles of Agreement. Fill out the form and submit to the state.
Do It Yourself Online
Our free account and tools will walk you through starting and maintaining a New Hampshire nonprofit. All for free.
2 Day NH Nonprofit
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NH Nonprofit Articles of Agreement Requirements
To incorporate a New Hampshire nonprofit, you must complete and file the Articles of Agreement of a New Hampshire Nonprofit Corporation with the NH Secretary of State. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Your nonprofit’s name can’t state or suggest a purpose other than those allowed by New Hampshire law or identified in your nonprofit’s Articles of Agreement. The name must also be distinguishable from other business entities on record with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
New Hampshire requires a description of your nonprofit’s purpose, and the online form includes adding an NAICS Code (a code that identifies your nonprofit’s purpose from a list of business purposes) as part of the application. Keep in mind, however, that if your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, your article’s statement of purpose should include the specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS.
If your nonprofit will have members, provide a description of its provisions for establishing membership and participating in your nonprofit corporation.
Describe how your nonprofit will distribute its assets if and when it shuts down (or “dissolves”). If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, your dissolution of assets provision should include the tax-exempt language required by the IRS permanently dedicating your nonprofit’s income and assets to one or more exempt purposes.
Include a New Hampshire street address (and mailing address if different) for your nonprofit’s principal place of business. When you hire Northwest, you can list the address of our New Hampshire office in place of yours.
If your New Hampshire nonprofit will issue stock, shares, or membership certificates, indicate this in your articles, and include your nonprofit’s provisions for retiring, re-acquiring, or redeeming those shares or certificates. (Note that 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities will not issue stock, shares, or membership certificates.)
If your nonprofit intends to limit or eliminate the personal liabilities of officers and directors to your nonprofit corporation, explain the details of that provision here.
If you’re filing online, you can upload additional documents or add attachments if filing by mail. Nonprofits seeking 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status should make sure to include each of the 501(c)(3) provisions required by the IRS.
Include the signature and post office address of each person associating together to form your nonprofit (a minimum of five individuals age 18 or older).
How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate a New Hampshire Nonprofit?
New Hampshire charges a $25 fee to file nonprofit Articles of Agreement. Hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, and the total cost, which includes a full year of registered agent service, is $250 for 2-day online filing.
How Long Does It Take to Start a New Hampshire Nonprofit?
New Hampshire’s processing time for mailed articles is somewhere between 1-3 weeks, but the processing time for online filings is around 1-2 business days. When you hire Northwest to incorporate your nonprofit, you can expect a response within two business days.
Is A New Hampshire Registered Agent Required?
Yes, New Hampshire requires nonprofits to get a New Hampshire registered agent. You can do the job yourself, but just keep in mind that a registered agent must maintain a publicly-listed location in New Hampshire and be available at that location to receive services of process (legal notices) during normal business hours. If you can’t trust yourself or someone you know to keep that commitment, and if you’d rather not deal with the fallout of listing your own residential or office address on a public form, it’s likely better to hire a registered agent service like Northwest.
Get a Federal EIN from the IRS
Your nonprofit’s federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN) is a lot like an individual’s social security number. Without one, it’s hard to establish your nonprofit’s legitimacy in the eyes of banks, vendors, and donors, not to mention that you’ll need an EIN to apply for federal tax-exempt status with the IRS.
After the New Hampshire State Department processes your Articles of Agreement, you can apply for an EIN on the IRS website, by fax, or by phone. Or you can sign up for our EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.
Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws
New Hampshire requires a nonprofit’s board of directors to adopt bylaws at its organizational meeting. This is your nonprofit’s first official meeting where you adopt your bylaws, elect directors and officers, and settle any other business necessary to complete the process of forming your nonprofit. You won’t need to file your bylaws with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, but the Attorney General’s office will expect to see your bylaws if you register as a New Hampshire charity, and the IRS will likewise expect your nonprofit to adopt its bylaws in advance of seeking 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status.
It isn’t easy to craft effective bylaws that actually anticipate the issues and problems your nonprofit will face down the road, but Northwest can help. When you hire Northwest, you’ll gain access to our adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as our other free nonprofit forms, to help get your nonprofit started on the path to success.
Apply for Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions
Nonprofit corporations are not automatically tax-exempt, but if you formed your organization in the right way and for the right reasons (where “right” gets defined by the IRS!), and if you’re willing to endure a lengthy, expensive application process, seeking federal tax-exempt status could benefit your nonprofit’s future success.
To apply, you’ll need to submit an Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS (either Form 1023-EZ, 1023, or 1024). Most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for public charities and private foundations. If your nonprofit intends to go this route, it’s important to plan in advance. Your Articles of Agreement should include a statement of purpose and dissolution of assets provision that use specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS.
If your nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, it will be exempt from the New Hampshire corporate income tax (also called the “business profits tax” in New Hampshire). Currently, New Hampshire doesn’t have a state sales tax. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to New Hampshire tax exemptions.
Obtain NH State Licenses
Does A New Hampshire Nonprofit Need A Business License?
New Hampshire doesn’t issue a general, statewide business license, but some cities and counties have licensing requirements and permits of their own. Contact your local city clerk’s office to find out which (if any) of your nonprofit’s activities require a license.
Should My New Hampshire Nonprofit Register As A Charity?
If your nonprofit has or will apply for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, or if it will solicit or distribute charitable funds in New Hampshire (basically, if it functions at all like a charity), it will need to register as a New Hampshire charity with the Office of the Attorney General. To register, submit an Application for Registration (form NHCT-1) to the Attorney General’s Charitable Trusts Unit.
There is a $25 fee to register, and you’ll need to pay $25 to file an annual report with the Charitable Trusts Unit each year.
Open a Bank Account For Your NH Nonprofit
To open a bank account for your New Hampshire nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items with you to the bank:
- A copy of your New Hampshire articles of agreement
- A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
- Your New Hampshire nonprofit’s EIN
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. If your nonprofit has several directors and/or officers, you may also want to bring a resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by management open the account in the name of your nonprofit.
Submit the NH Business Report Every 5 Years
New Hampshire doesn’t require nonprofits to submit annual reports. Rather, you’ll submit a compliance report to the NH Secretary of State every five years that updates or confirms your nonprofit’s information with the state.
The report comes with a $25 fee, and you can submit online yourself at New Hampshire’s QuickStart portal. Or you can add our convenient New Hampshire Business Compliance service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.