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How To Start A Nonprofit In Alaska

To start a nonprofit corporation in Alaska, begin by filing the nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. You can submit your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation by mail or online. The articles of incorporation cost $50 to file. Once filed with the state, your articles of incorporation officially create your Alaska nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.


Alaska Nonprofit Filing Options

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Download the Alaska nonprofit articles of incorporation. Fill out the form and submit to the state.

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AK Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation Requirements

To incorporate an Alaska nonprofit, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation for a Domestic Nonprofit Corporation with the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.

1. Name of Corporation

Your nonprofit’s name must contain “corporation,” “company,” “incorporation,” or “limited” (or the corresponding abbreviations). The name also can’t suggest that your nonprofit is part of the government, can’t be misleading regarding your nonprofit’s purpose, can’t use words reserved for identifying goods and services, and can’t include words used to identify an internet address. You can do a name search at the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s website.

2. Disclosure of Corporate Purposes

Alaska doesn’t require a detailed description of your nonprofit’s purpose, and you could get away with writing a general statement of purpose like “engage in any lawful activity for which a nonprofit corporation may be organized in Alaska.” But if your nonprofit is a charitable organization, and if you’re planning to apply to the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, you need to attach a lengthier statement of purpose that includes the special language recommended by the IRS.

3. NAICS Code

The application also asks for an NAICS code, which is just a numerical code that identifies the purpose of your organization’s activities. You can search for the code that most closely matches your nonprofit’s activities on the NAICS website.

4. Registered Agent

You can list the name and address of an individual resident of Alaska (yourself, for example, or a willing friend), or you can hire and list the name and Alaska address of a registered agent service like Northwest.

5. Directors

Alaska requires your Articles to list the names and addresses of at least three initial directors (include an attachment if you’ll have more than three).

6. Optional Provisions and Additional Articles

If you have special provisions and/or articles you’d like to apply to your Alaska nonprofit, so long as those provisions are consistent with Alaska law, attach them to your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation and indicate if any of these provisions are continuations of existing articles on the form. For instance, if you’re planning to apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS, you will need to attach an expanded statement of purpose using the language recommended by the IRS, and the IRS will also want to see explanations for how your nonprofit’s income and assets will be permanently dedicated to pursuing a tax-exempt purpose.

7. Signatures of the Incorporators

Alaska requires at least three incorporators, all natural persons 19 years of age or older, to sign and date your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation. Add an attachment if your nonprofit will have more than three incorporators.

How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate an Alaska Nonprofit?

Nonprofits pay a $50 state fee to file articles of incorporation with the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing (the fee is the same for articles filed online or on paper).

How Long Does It Take to Start an Alaska Nonprofit?

Alaska will process your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation in about 12 business days. The state does not offer expedited service, but filing your articles online can speed up the process just a little.

Does an Alaska Nonprofit Need a Registered Agent?

Yes, you’re required to appoint an Alaska registered agent for your nonprofit. Your registered agent can be an individual (such as yourself or a willing friend), or you can hire an organization that provides a registered agent service.

Doing the job yourself will save a little money, of course, but it also comes with a lot of headaches. You’ll have to list a physical address to receive legal notices, which becomes part of the public record, and you’ll have to be available at that address during normal business hours. Furthermore, your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation and other maintenance documents (such as your biennial reports) will list your address publicly, so unwanted solicitors might come knocking at your door.

Northwest’s registered agent service can help. If you hire Northwest, our name and address will appear on your articles of incorporation, so we’ll be the ones tied to our desks, not you. You’ll have more privacy, receive less junk mail, and have the freedom to manage and grow your nonprofit on your own terms.


Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Your nonprofit will need an Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN) if you want to apply for federal and state tax exemptions, but you’ll also need an EIN simply to manage your nonprofit’s finances (even to open a bank account in your nonprofit’s name). Once you register your nonprofit with the State of Alaska, you can apply for an EIN through the IRS website. Or you can skip this step and add our convenient EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.


Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws

Even though you won’t publish your Alaska nonprofit’s bylaws and don’t have to submit them to the state, they remain your nonprofit’s most important internal document. Your bylaws define how your nonprofit operates, including how directors get appointed (and how long they stay in office), who has power over what, and how your nonprofit will maintain its records and ensure its ongoing compliance with state and federal laws. You should adopt your nonprofit’s bylaws at its organizational meeting—its first official meeting—at the same time that you appoint directors, elect officers, and ratify your articles of incorporation. You can hold this meeting before or shortly after filing your Articles of Incorporation, but you should definitely do so before applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Hire Northwest, and we’ll provide a free template for writing nonprofit bylaws that you can easily adapt to your nonprofit’s circumstances and purpose. We also provide Alaska nonprofit bylaws, as well as other free nonprofit forms to help guide your nonprofit as it develops and grows.


Apply for Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions

To obtain federal tax-exempt status, you’ll need to apply to the IRS, and that means forming your nonprofit in the right way and for the right reasons (where “right” means “right in the eyes of the IRS”!). Currently the IRS recognizes more than two dozen types of exempt nonprofits, each described in section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, but most nonprofits apply for 501(c)(3) status for public and private charities. If your nonprofit intends to become a 501(c)(3) organization, your Articles need to include specific language required by the IRS limiting your nonprofit’s activities to the exclusive pursuit of one or more recognized exempt purposes. Learn more at Northwest’s detailed Guide to 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status.

If you qualify for federal tax-exempt status, Alaska will then exempt your nonprofit from paying the state income tax. Additionally, if your nonprofit’s property gets used exclusively for religious, charitable, cemetery, hospital, or educational purposes, you will qualify for the Alaska property tax exemption. Alaska already has no state sales tax. Visit our Alaska tax exemption page to learn more.


Register for State Tax Accounts, Licenses, or Permits

Does an Alaska nonprofit need a business license?

Yes, your nonprofit will need to obtain a business license from the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. You can get your license online at the Alaska Division of Corporations website. There is a $50 fee.

Should my Alaska nonprofit register as a charity?

If you intend to solicit and collect donations in Alaska, you’ll need to register as a charity with the Alaska Attorney General’s Office (the Department of Law). Do so before raising funds. The registration fee and the annual renewal fee are each $40, with a September 1 renewal deadline each year.


Open a Bank Account for Your Alaska Nonprofit

To open a bank account for your Alaska nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items with you to the bank:

  • A copy of your Alaska nonprofit articles of incorporation
  • A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
  • Your Alaska 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 Alaska Nonprofit Biennial Report

What is the Alaska Nonprofit Initial Report?

Your initial report provides your nonprofit’s contact and membership information to the State of Alaska, and it’s due no later than 6 months after the state approves your articles of incorporation. You can submit the form online at the Alaska Division of Corporations website, and there is no filing fee. Or, you can hire Northwest Registered Agent to form your Alaska nonprofit, and we’ll file your initial report on your nonprofit’s behalf.

What is the Alaska Nonprofit Biennial Report?

You’ll submit your Alaska biennial report every two years to update your contact and organizational information with the state. You can mail the report to the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, or you can submit online at the division’s website. The filing fee is $25, and the report is due by July 2nd on either odd years (if you registered your nonprofit in an odd year) or even years (if you registered in an even year). Northwest also offers a convenient Alaska Biennial Report Service for $200.

How much does a nonprofit in Alaska cost each year?

The costs of maintaining your Alaska nonprofit will vary year by year, and the costs may be higher or lower depending on your nonprofit’s activities. All nonprofits that solicit and collect charitable donations, for instance, must pay $40 each year to maintain their status as charities, but of course not all nonprofits are charities.

Additionally, instead of filing annual reports, as in most states, you’ll pay $25 to file the Alaska biennial report by July 2nd every other year. You’ll also need to pay $50 to get an Alaska Business License in your first year of operation, and you can select to renew that license annually or biennially.