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How to Start a Nonprofit in Wisconsin

We’re Just Not Annoying®

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FORMING A NONPROFIT IN WISCONSIN

NAME IT

Make sure that the name of your nonprofit complies with Wisconsin laws. The name of your WI nonprofit cannot include the word “insurance” because it is considered prohibited unless the rest of the name makes clear that it is not an insurance company. Also, you cannot use words that suggest your nonprofit involves architecture, professional engineering, or design. The word “cooperative” can only be used in the name of an actual cooperative association. The name needs to contain “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited” or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.” or “ltd.” or comparable words.

GET ORGANIZED

Your WI nonprofit is required to have at least three initial directors, and at least one or more incorporators. Only one incorporator is required to sign the articles of incorporation. Make sure you have a dedicated, like-minded group in place in order to successfully run your nonprofit.

MAKE LAWS

Create bylaws for your nonprofit. These will help guide and direct your nonprofit, and are also required by the IRs in order to obtain tax-exempt status.

INCORPORATE

You will need to submit one original and a copy of the nonprofit Articles of Incorporation and file them along with the $35 filing fee with the Department of Financial Institutions. Make checks payable to “Department of Financial Institutions.”

Send to:
Department of Financial Institutions
Division of Corporate & Consumer Services
P.O. Box 7846
Madison, WI 53707-7846

HOLD A MEETING

After filing the articles of incorporation, hold your WI nonprofit’s first official meeting to appoint officers and directors and to vote on adopting your nonprofit corporation’s bylaws.

TALK TO THE MAN

Your nonprofit will need to obtain an EIN from the IRS. You will want to obtain federal 501(c)3 tax exempt status from the IRS as well. Once you have federal exempt status, your nonprofit qualifies for Wisconsin tax exemption.

RAISE FUNDS

In order to solicit contributions in Wisconsin a nonprofit must register with the Department of Regulation and Licensing. You will need to submit a Wisconsin Charitable Organization Registration Statement.

FILE REPORTS

You are required to file an annual report with the Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Corporate and Consumer Services. File the annual report by the end of the filing anniversary quarter. Quarterly filing due dates are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. It is suggested that you do this online. Your nonprofit must also register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services and renew their registration by July 31 each year. There are no initial report requirements.

How much does it cost to start a WI nonprofit?

There is a $35 filing fee for the Articles of Incorporation, as well as a $10 annual report fee. There is also a $15 charity registration fee and a $54 charitable organization renewal each year.

How long does it take to form a nonprofit in Wisconsin?

It will take 4-7 days to process your articles.

How many directors and incorporators are required for my nonprofit?

Wisconsin requires that your nonprofit organization have at least three initial directors, and one or more incorporators.

Do I need a registered agent?

Yes, you will need a Wisconsin registered agent with a Wisconsin street address. Northwest Registered agent can provide this service for your nonprofit for only $125 per year!

Do I need to register my WI nonprofit as a charity?

Before your Wisconsin nonprofit solicits contributions in the state, you must register as a Wisconsin charity with the Department of Regulation and Licensing. You will need to submit a Charitable Organization Registration Statement.

Is my Wisconsin nonprofit tax exempt?

You can register for federal tax exemption as well as Wisconsin tax exemption.

Can a foreign nonprofit operate in Wisconsin?

Yes. If you want to register as a foreign nonprofit in Wisconsin, you will need to fill out a Foreign Nonstock Corporation “Certificate of Authority Application” form. File it along with a copy of the Application, a Certificate of Status (also referred to as a Certificate of Existence) that is no more than 60 days old, and $45 fee to:

Department of Financial Institutions
P.O. Box 7846
Madison, WI 53707-7846

What are the annual requirements for my Wisconsin nonprofit?

Your WI nonprofit is required to file an annual report with the Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Corporate and Consumer Services. File the annual report by the end of the filing anniversary quarter. Quarterly filing due dates are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. It is recommended that you do this online. Your nonprofit must also register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services and renew their registration by July 31 each year. There are no initial report requirements.

Where do I send my Articles of Incorporation?

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Division of Corporate & Consumer Services
P.O. Box 7846
Madison, WI 53707-7846

To deliver in person:

345 W. Washington Ave – 3rd Floor
Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing

P.O. Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708
Phone: (608) 266-2112

Wisconsin annual report online filing:

www.wdfi.org/apps/corpar/

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®