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Oklahoma Nonprofit Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Nonprofit in Oklahoma

To incorporate a nonprofit in Oklahoma, file the nonprofit certificate of incorporation with the Oklahoma Secretary of State. This filing officially creates your nonprofit, but it is really just one step toward pursuing your organization’s goals. The main steps to starting an Oklahoma nonprofit are as follows:

  1. Name your nonprofit
  2. File the nonprofit certificate of incorporation
  3. Get a federal EIN tax ID from the IRS
  4. Hold your organizational meeting and adopt bylaws
  5. Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
  6. Register as a charity
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Oklahoma nonprofit Certificate 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 the Oklahoma Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation

To form an Oklahoma nonprofit, file the certificate of incorporation using the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your nonprofit
Step 2 Decide if you will hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 3 Decide how long you’d like your nonprofit to exist
Step 4 Describe your nonprofit’s purpose
Step 5 Choose your nonprofit’s directors (at least one)
Step 6 Appoint at least three incorporators to complete, sign, and submit your certificate of incorporation
Step 7 File online and pay with a credit card; mail your certificate to the Oklahoma Secretary of State at 421 NW 13th, Suite 210, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73103 and pay with a check or money order; or hand deliver your certificate to the same address and pay with check, money order, or credit card

How Long Does it Take to Start an Oklahoma Nonprofit?

1

Fastest

File in person, pay a $25 expedite fee, and get your certificate of incorporation processed that day.

3

Fast

File online, and the state will process your certificate in around three days. Or you can hire Northwest to form your nonprofit online, answer a few questions in your online account, and leave the rest to our expert Corporate Guides.

7+

Routine

Mail in your certificate of incorporation, and the state should respond in a week or two.

How Much Does It Cost To Incorporate An Oklahoma Nonprofit?

Oklahoma’s Office of the Secretary of State charges $25 to file a nonprofit certificate of incorporation. If you file online, you’ll pay a 4% credit card processing fee. Hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, and your total, which includes a full year of our registered agent service, is $255 for three-day filing.

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How Much Does An Oklahoma Nonprofit Cost Each Year?

If your nonprofit is a charity, it will pay a variable annual fee (between $15 and $65, depending on contributions) to the Oklahoma Office of the Secretary of State.

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Will My Oklahoma Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?

Not automatically. To qualify for tax-exempt status at the federal level, your nonprofit must submit an Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS, pay the required filing fee, and wait while the IRS examines your nonprofit’s certificate of incorporation, bylaws, history, and finances. Currently, the IRS recognizes more than two dozen types of exempt organizations (all under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code), but public charities and private foundations, which account for most nonprofits, usually seek 501(c)(3) status. If your nonprofit intends to go this route, make sure your certificate of incorporation includes the specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS. Your nonprofit must organize itself in a way that permanently dedicates its activities, income, and assets to the pursuit of one or more exempt purposes recognized by the IRS.

If your nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, it will also be exempt from paying the Oklahoma state franchise tax, but your organization will still need to file Form 512-E (the Oklahoma Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) annually within 4 1/2 months of the end of its fiscal year. To get a sales tax exemption, if your organization qualifies, you’ll submit Form 13-16-A to the Oklahoma State Tax Commission. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to Oklahoma state tax exemptions.

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Is An Oklahoma Registered Agent Required?

Yes, your nonprofit must appoint an individual or corporate entity as its Oklahoma registered agent. A registered agent provides a reliable channel between your organization and the state, which ensures that official state documents (including lawsuits) always go to the same place and to the same individual. You can appoint a member of your organization (such as yourself or an associate) or hire a commercial registered agent service like Northwest. Either way, your registered agent must list an Oklahoma street address on your nonprofit’s certificate of incorporation, which goes onto the public record, and the agent must actually be at that address during normal business hours.

We don’t recommend doing the job yourself, and not merely for selfish reasons. On the surface, listing a street address and just being there during business hours seems simple enough, but it comes with a bunch of unexpected hassles. Since whatever address you list is public, listing your own residential or office address means you can expect a mailbox full of junk mail and salespeople showing up unexpectedly at your door. You’ll also be tied to your desk during normal business hours instead of holding long meetings and traveling to talk with potential donors. That’s a hard commitment to make when you’re trying to manage and grow a new nonprofit.

A better solution? Hire Northwest, leave the endless waiting to us, and protect your privacy by listing our Oklahoma street address on your nonprofit’s certificate of incorporation. If your nonprofit ever gets served, we’ll scan the document and send it to you on the day we receive it.

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

If your nonprofit intends to solicit contributions in Oklahoma, it will likely need to register as an Oklahoma charity. To register, submit Form 101-01/13 (the Registration Statement of Charitable Organization) to the Oklahoma Secretary of State. There is a $15 filing fee for charities that receive (or expect to receive) $10,000 or less in annual contributions. Charities that receive more than $10,000 in annual contributions pay $65 instead.

The deadline to renew your registration depends on when you registered in the first place. Your registration is valid for a full year, so the renewal deadline is always the anniversary of the previous year’s registration (yes, that means your renewal deadline may be different each year!). The renewal fee is also either $15 or $65 depending on annual contributions received.

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Do I Need A Tax ID Number (EIN) For An Oklahoma nonprofit?

A corporation’s federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN) is a lot like an individual’s social security number. You might be able to get by without one in certain circumstances, but establishing your organization’s legitimacy will be nearly impossible without one. You’ll need an EIN for most banks to open an account in your nonprofit’s name, to apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions, and to establish good relationships with vendors and donors.

You can get an EIN at the IRS website, or you can simply sign up for our EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.

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Does An Oklahoma Nonprofit Need A Business License?

Oklahoma doesn’t issue a single, general business license, but various state departments, counties, and cities have licensing requirements of their own. Visit the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s website to learn which (if any) licenses and permits apply to your nonprofit’s activities.

Can I Register An Out Of State Nonprofit In Oklahoma?

Yes. If your out-of-state nonprofit wishes to expand to Oklahoma, you can submit a Certificate of Authority to the Office of the Secretary of State. Learn more about the registration process, forms, and fees at Northwest’s guide to Oklahoma foreign nonprofits.

Does An Oklahoma Nonprofit Need Bylaws?

Yes, your Oklahoma nonprofit is required to adopt bylaws at the first official meeting of its board of directors (often called the “organizational meeting”). This is the meeting where your nonprofit votes on new board members and officers, adopts bylaws, and settles other business necessary to truly complete the incorporation process. If your nonprofit intends to seek federal tax-exempt status, make sure to ratify your bylaws before submitting the Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS.

Corporate bylaws differ from nonprofit to nonprofit because they address the specific needs of the organization, but they normally address issues like the terms of office for directors and officers, procedures for removing a director, voting rights, procedures for amending the bylaws, and so on. The idea is to write bylaws that anticipate the issues your nonprofit is likely to face without overly-restricting the organization’s ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances.

Writing effective bylaws isn’t easy, but Northwest can serve as a guide. When you hire Northwest, you can use our adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as our other free nonprofit forms, to ensure that your nonprofit starts out successfully and stays successful.

Oklahoma Nonprofit Certificate Of Incorporation Requirements

Name of the Corporation

Your nonprofit’s name should contain one of the following: “association,” “company,” “corporation,” “club,” “foundation,” “fund,” “incorporated,” “institute,” “society,” “union,” “syndicate,” or “limited,” and the name must be distinguishable from other business entities on record with the Office of the Secretary of State. You can do a name availability search at the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s website.

Registered Agent and Registered Office

Include the name and Oklahoma street address of your nonprofit’s registered agent. When you hire Northwest, our name and Oklahoma street address go here.

Location of Church

If your nonprofit is a church, include its Oklahoma street address here. Otherwise, leave this section blank.

Duration

Leave this section blank if your nonprofit will exist perpetually (with no particularly end in sight). If your organization will only exist for a limited time, however, include an end date here.

Nature of the Business or Purpose

Describe your nonprofit’s purpose. Oklahoma only requires a general statement of purpose (and even “engage in any lawful act or activity” allowed by the state will satisfy this requirement), but the IRS is a different story. If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, its certificate of incorporation should include a statement of purpose and dissolution of assets provision using the specific language provided by the IRS.

Capital Stock

If you’re preparing your own certificate of incorporation (instead of using the state’s form), include the following article word-for-word: “This corporation does not have authority to issue capital stock.” These words already appear on the form provided by the state.

Not For Profit

As with the previous section, your certificate of incorporation must contain the following (which already appears on the state’s form): “This corporation is not for profit, and as such the corporation does not afford pecuniary gain, incidentally or otherwise, to its members.”

Number of Trustees/Directors

Indicate how many trustees or directors your nonprofit will elect at its organizational meeting after incorporating. Your organization must elect at least one trustee or director.

Trustees/Directors

Include the names and mailing addresses of each individual who will serve as a trustee or director for your nonprofit. You must include information here for at least one director.

Incorporators

Oklahoma requires at least three incorporators to sign your nonprofit’s certificate of formation. Your incorporators don’t have to be directors, officers, or members of your nonprofit. When you hire Northwest, we’ll incorporate your nonprofit.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®