How To Start A Nonprofit In Nebraska
To start a nonprofit corporation in Nebraska, begin by filing nonprofit articles of incorporation with the Nebraska Secretary of State. You can file your nonprofit's articles by mail or online. The articles of incorporation cost $30 to file using a paper form and $27 to file online ($25 plus a $2 statutory filing fee). Once filed with the state, the articles of incorporation officially create your nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.
Starting a Nebraska Nonprofit Guide:
- Choose your NE nonprofit filing option
- File the NE nonprofit articles of incorporation
- Get a Federal EIN from the IRS
- Adopt your nonprofit's bylaws
- Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
- Apply for any required state licenses
- Open a bank account for your NE nonprofit
- Submit your NE nonprofit's biennial report
Nebraska Nonprofit Filing Options
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Instructions for Nebraska Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation. When you complete your articles, submit them to the state.
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NE Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To incorporate a Nebraska nonprofit, you must file the Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Nebraska Secretary of State. Unfortunately, Nebraska doesn’t provide a form for your articles of incorporation, so you’ll need to prepare the document yourself, print it and mail it, or upload the file to the state’s Corporate Document eDelivery system. Click on any number below to see what information is required by the state.
Your nonprofit’s name needs to be clearly distinguishable from the names of other corporations or business entities lawfully registered, filed, or reserved with the Nebraska Secretary of State. The name can’t state or imply that your nonprofit exists for purposes different from those allowed by Nebraska law or indicated by your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation.
Identify if your nonprofit is a mutual benefit, public benefit, or religious corporation.
Include the name and Nebraska street address of your nonprofit’s registered agent (you can include a PO Box only in addition to a street address, not in place of one). When you hire Northwest, our name and Nebraska street address go here.
Include the name and street address of at least one incorporator. An incorporator signs and submits your Articles and doesn’t have to belong to your organization. When you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, we’ll be your incorporator.
Nebraska doesn’t require nonprofits to have members, but your Articles of Incorporation should indicate whether it will or not. A member is usually an individual or business entity with the right to vote in the election of your nonprofit’s directors.
Include a clause describing how your nonprofit will distribute its assets if it ever shuts down. If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS, your articles should include a dissolution of assets clause using the specific language required by the IRS.
Nebraska doesn’t require a nonprofit to describe its purpose in its Articles of Incorporation, but if you intend to apply for 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, you should include a detailed statement of purpose using the specific language provided by the IRS.
You have the option to include additional information and provisions governing your nonprofit, so long as each addition is consistent with federal and state laws. You might, for example, include the names and addresses of your nonprofit’s initial directors; information also included in your bylaws about membership rights, classes of members, and so on; and regulations limiting the powers of your nonprofit’s board of directors.
Any incorporator and director mentioned in your articles of incorporation must sign the document.
How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate a Nebraska Nonprofit?
Nebraska charges $30 to file with a paper form. If you file online, it’ll cost you $25 plus a $2 statutory filing fee, for a total of $27.
How Long Does It Take to Start a Nebraska Nonprofit?
Standard processing in Nebraska takes about 12 business days once your documents have been received by the state.
What are the publishing requirements for a Nebraska nonprofit?
Your Nebraska nonprofit will have to publish a notice of incorporation in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks after you submit your Articles of Incorporation, per NE Code §21-19,173. Nonprofit corporations need to list the following: name; whether they’re public benefit,mutual benefit or religious; registered agent and office, name and address of incorporator and whether or not the corporation will have members.
For details, see our guide on How to Publish Your Notice of Incorporation in Nebraska.
Is A Nebraska Nonprofit Registered Agent Required?
Yes, the State of Nebraska requires nonprofit corporations to appoint a registered agent to receive services of process (legal notices) and other official state mail on their behalf. You can appoint yourself or an associate, but we recommend going with a registered agent service like Northwest, and not simply for selfish reasons. A registered agent has to be available at a Nebraska street address, during normal business hours, in order to keep a reliable channel open with the state, so if you do the job yourself you’ll need to list your own residential or office address on your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation. When you do that, you can expect three things: excessive junk mail, getting targeted by data-sellers, and dealing with salespeople showing up at your door. And you’ll also be stuck in your office all day waiting for a service of process that may never come.
Hire Northwest, and these problems disappear. To begin with, we’ll be the ones doing the waiting, so you’re free to hold lengthy meetings, travel, meet with potential donors, and otherwise focus your energy on managing and growing your new nonprofit. Your articles of incorporation can also list our Nebraska street address in place of yours, which helps protect your privacy and cuts down on the junk mail and other annoyances discussed above. And if we ever do receive a service of process for your nonprofit, we’ll scan it and send it to you on the day we receive it.
Get a Federal EIN from the IRS
Your nonprofit will need a federal employer identification number (EIN) to effectively navigate its finances, open a bank account, and apply for federal or state tax exemptions. After the Nebraska Secretary of State approves your Articles of Incorporation, you can apply for an EIN on the IRS website. Or you can save time by adding our EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest to form your Nebraska nonprofit.
Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws
Nebraska requires a nonprofit corporation’s board of directors to adopt bylaws. Most nonprofits will do this at an organizational meeting—the first official meeting at which you elect directors and officers, adopt bylaws, and complete whatever other business is necessary to truly form your nonprofit. Make sure your nonprofit adopts its bylaws before applying for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, since the IRS only wants to deal a fully-formed organization.
It’s tough to write effective bylaws, but Northwest is here to help. We have a lot of experience working with nonprofit corporations, so we know the sorts of obstacles, issues, and problems a new nonprofit is likely to face down the road. When you hire Northwest, you can use our adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as our other free nonprofit forms, to help you get started.
Apply for Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions
Will My Nebraska Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?
Unfortunately, forming as a nonprofit doesn’t automatically qualify your organization for tax-exempt status. First, you need to submit an Application for Recognition of Exemption (Form 1023, 1023-EZ, or 1024) to the IRS, pay a $275 or $600 filing fee depending on the size and nature of your nonprofit, and endure a 3-6 month or longer application process that involves the IRS examining your organization’s structure, formation documents, purpose, and finances. The IRS recognizes more than two dozen types of exempt organizations, but most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for public charities and private foundations. If your organization intends to go this route, it’s best to plan well in advance. Your nonprofit’s articles should include a statement of purpose and dissolution of assets provision using specific language required by the IRS. The basic idea is that your nonprofit must dedicate its income and assets to the pursuit of an exempt purpose recognized by the IRS (religious, charitable, educational, etc.) and structure your organization such that it will always serve public (not private) ends.
What About Nebraska State Tax Exemptions?
If your nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) status, your organization will automatically qualify for an exemption from the Nebraska state income tax (and you don’t even need to apply!). However, you’ll need to apply to the Department of Revenue for a sales and use tax exemption, and not all nonprofit corporations qualify. Visit Northwest’s guide to Nebraska state tax exemptions if you’d like to learn more.
Obtain Nebraska State Accounts & Licenses
Does a Nebraska Nonprofit Need a Business License?
Nebraska doesn’t issue a statewide business license, so whether or not you’ll need a business license (or licenses) depends on your nonprofit’s activities and location. Contact your city clerk’s office to find out which (if any) licenses and permits apply to your nonprofit.
Should My Nebraska Nonprofit Register For State Tax Accounts?
That depends on your nonprofit’s structure and activities. If your nonprofit will have employees, for instance, you will likely need to register with the Nebraska Department of Revenue to pay withholding taxes. To get a Nebraska State Identification Number, you can register online or complete the Nebraska Tax Application (Form 20). Both the online registration option and the printable forms are available through the Department of Revenue’s website. There are filing fees only for specific programs (see section 15 of the form).
Do I Have To Register My Nonprofit as a Charity in Nebraska?
No. Nebraska no longer requires charities to register with the Attorney General’s office.
Open a Bank Account For Your NE Nonprofit
To open a bank account for your Nebraska nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items to the bank:
- A copy of your Nebraska nonprofit’s articles of incorporation
- A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
- Your Nebraska nonprofit’s EIN
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time to determine their requirements. If your nonprofit has several directors and/or officers, you may even need to bring a resolution authorizing you to open the account in the name of your nonprofit.
Submit Your NE Nonprofit's Biennial Report
Nebraska requires nonprofits to submit a biennial report by April 1st of each odd numbered year. The report updates your nonprofit’s information with the state (for instance, your registered agent’s name and address and the names and addresses of each officer and director). There is a $20 filing fee for nonprofit corporations.
If you’d rather not keep up with this report or its deadline, however, you can sign up for our convenient Nebraska Biennial Report Service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.