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Pennsylvania Nonprofit Organization

We’re Just Not Annoying®

HOW TO START A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

NAME IT

The name of your nonprofit cannot be recognizable as similar to any other PA corporate names on record. You can file a name reservation, but we recommend that you call the Department of State or search your desired name on the Business Entity database. Pennsylvania Nonprofit Corporation Code does not require the name to contain a corporate designator or ending.

GET ORGANIZED

Pennsylvania does not require your initial directors to be listed on the articles of incorporation, but it is best to have them in place ahead of time and have the organization well-planned before you file. Successful nonprofits take a team effort and attention to the details.

MAKE LAWS

Your bylaws will be a vital internal document for your nonprofit as they will guide your organization’s day-to-day activities.

INCORPORATE!

You submit the Articles of Incorporation-Nonprofit and a Docketing Statement to the PA Department of State, Bureau of Corporations, and Charitable Organizations. Deliver it in person or by mail along with a check for the filing fee made out to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The form that the bureau furnishes is not very good and PA does not allow custom drafted articles. You actually have to cross out articles that do not apply to you. Attach another page for the more detailed explanation of your purpose if you wish to include the IRS tax-exempt language.

HAVE A MEETING

After you file your articles of incorporation, hold an organizational meeting to officially elect officers and directors and ratify your corporate bylaws.

PUBLISH

Pennsylvania Code requires all corporations (including nonprofits) to publish their intention to incorporate or advertise that they have formed a corporation in one newspaper of general circulation and one local legal journal. However, the Bureau will not accept an affidavit of publication if you try to file it.

TALK TO THE MAN

Get an EIN from the IRS and then apply for tax exemption from the same Federal Agency if you are eligible. Pennsylvania nonprofits will not be able to escape paying the state’s corporate tax on their revenue, but they can apply for sales tax exemptions in Pennsylvania for purchases limited to the organization’s charitable purpose. This application goes to the PA Department of Revenue as well as the Exemption Unit, and the form will be in your account when “Northwest” is your CROP.

RAISE FUNDS

Once your nonprofit reaches $25,000 in total gross contribution, it must register with the PA Department of State’s Bureau of Charitable Organizations. See our Charity Registration page.

How much does it cost to start a Pennsylvania nonprofit organization?

The filing fee for PA Articles of Incorporation-Nonprofit is $125. The PA Department of State accepts check or money order.

The registration and renewal fee for PA Charities is $15 minimum and $250 maximum depending on the total revenue collected for the fiscal year.

How long does it take to form a Pennsylvania nonprofit organization?

Pennsylvania takes about two weeks to process your nonprofit articles of incorporation.

How many directors are required in Pennsylvania?

None need to be listed in the initial articles.

How many incorporators are required in Pennsylvania?

One or more incorporators are required to incorporate a Pennsylvania Nonprofit. An incorporator can be another corporation or a natural person.

Do I have to be specific about the purpose of the Pennsylvania nonprofit?

Pennsylvania requires a nonprofit to describe its objectives. If you are going for federal 501c3 tax exemption, there are specific language requirements for the purpose clause.

After you qualify for federal tax exemption, you can also apply for Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation state tax exemption.

Does my registered agent have to sign my PA certificate?

No.

Do I need to register as a Pennsylvania Charity?

If your organization plans to solicit in the Commonwealth, you must register as a Pennsylvania charity and submit financial information to the Department of State, Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.

Can I register a foreign nonprofit in Pennsylvania?

Yes. You can register your out of state foreign nonprofit in Pennsylvania by filing with the Department of State.

What do I need to do to fundraise in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania requires organizations soliciting charitable contributions from residents of the Commonwealth that have received $25,000 in contributions to register as a PA charity and renew annually with the Bureau by filing a Charitable Organization Registration Statement. You can find the form in your online account if you hire “Northwest” as your PA commercial registered office provider.

Are there annual fees to keep my Pennsylvania nonprofit organization active?

If the organization has had any changes to its corporate officers in the past calendar year, file a free Annual Statement-Nonprofit Corporation. These statements are filed by April 30th each year that there has been an officer change. If and when your Pennsylvania decennial report is due, the fee is $70.

PA Charities refile the Charitable Organization Registration Statement each year by the 315th day after the end of an organization’s fiscal year. The annual fees vary from $15 minimum to $250 maximum depending on total revenue for the year.

Pennsylvania Nonprofit Resources:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
Phone: (717) 787-1057
Email: RA-Corps@pa.gov

Bureau of Charitable Organizations
207 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: (717) 783-1720
Fax: (717) 783-6014
Email: ST-Charity@pa.gov

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®