How To Start A Nonprofit In New Jersey
To start a nonprofit in New Jersey, you must file a Certificate of Incorporation (also called a Certificate of Formation) with the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Division of Revenue and Enterprise. The state encourages people to file the Certificate of Incorporation online. However, you may file by fax, mail, or in person. The Certificate of Incorporation costs $75 to file (plus a $4 convenience fee if you pay with a credit card). Once filed with the state, your Certificate of Incorporation officially creates your New Jersey nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.
Starting a New Jersey Nonprofit Guide:
- Choose your NJ nonprofit filing option
- Submit the NJ Certificate 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 NJ nonprofit
- Submit the NJ nonprofit annual report
New Jersey Nonprofit Filing Options
Free PDF Download
Download the NJ Certificate of Incorporation. Fill out the form and submit to the state.
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NJ Certificate of Incorporation Requirements
To incorporate a New Jersey nonprofit, you must file a Certificate of Incorporation with the NJ Department of the Treasury. If you choose to submit a paper form, you’ll need to file a Public Records Filing for New Business Entity. The information required on both forms is identical. Click on any number below to see what information is needed.
Your nonprofit’s name should include an appropriate corporate suffix (“Inc.,” “Corporation,” etc.), and the name must be distinguishable from the names of other business entities on file with the New Jersey Secretary of State.
Enter the state’s code identifying your organization as a domestic nonprofit corporation. The proper code for a domestic nonprofit is “NP.”
The state requires a brief description of your nonprofit’s purpose. Keep in mind, though, that if your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status from the IRS, a short description of your purpose won’t work. Instead, you’ll need to attach a detailed statement of purpose using the specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS.
Leave section of the state’s form is for domestic for-profit corporations. Nonprofits should leave it blank.
Leave this section blank, as well, if your organization doesn’t have an end date in mind. However, if you only intend to operate for a specific period, list your nonprofit’s end date here.
Include the name and New Jersey street address of your nonprofit’s registered agent, as well as the address of your nonprofit’s principal office. When you hire Northwest, you can list our New Jersey address for both.
List the names and street addresses of at least three members of your nonprofit’s board of trustees.
Include the name and street address of at least one incorporator. Your nonprofit’s incorporator doesn’t have to be part of your organization. When you hire Northwest to form your New Jersey nonprofit, we’ll be your incorporator.
The second part of the New Jersey form—labeled “Additional Entity-Specific Information” asks questions specific to different types of business entities. You only need to complete the first part (section A for domestic nonprofit corporations), which asks if your organization will have members; if so, what their rights and limitations will be; how trustees will get elected; and how your nonprofit will distribute its assets if it ever shuts down. Most of these questions receive (or should receive) answers in your nonprofit’s bylaws, so you can select “as set forth in the bylaws” for most of them, but pay special attention to the “method of distribution of assets.” If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, the IRS will expect your articles to include a detailed dissolution of assets provision permanently dedicating your nonprofit’s income and assets to one or more recognized exempt purposes.
How Much Does It Cost To Incorporate A New Jersey Nonprofit?
New Jersey charges nonprofits a $75 filing fee to process the Certificate of Incorporation, and you’ll pay an additional $4 credit card convenience fee when filing online. New Jersey also offers quite a few expedited processing options for additional fees.
How Long Does It Take To Start A New Jersey Nonprofit?
New Jersey encourages people to file the Certificate of Incorporation online. However, the state does offer a variety of filing options and processing times:
- Fastest: If you’re willing to fax or hand-deliver your documents to the NJ Department of the Treasury, you can pay a $1,000 expedite fee for 1-hour filing or a $500 expedite fee for 2-hour filing.
- Fast and Safe: If you submit online, you’ll get a response in 1 day, or you can mail or fax your documents and pay extra for 8.5-hour or same-day expedited processing.
- Routine: Mail your filing to the NJ Department of Treasury, skip the expedite fees, and wait a few weeks for someone to eventually file your documents.
Is A New Jersey Nonprofit Registered Agent Required?
New Jersey requires the appointment of a New Jersey registered agent to receive services of process (legal notices) and other official state mail for your nonprofit. It’s possible to take on this job yourself, but keep in mind that a registered agent has to be available at a publicly listed physical address in New Jersey during normal business hours. If you can’t make that commitment, don’t know someone else you can trust with the job, or don’t want your personal or office address listed on your Certificate of Incorporation, it’s best to go with a New Jersey registered agent service like Northwest.
Hiring a registered agent comes with numerous benefits. When you hire Northwest, you’ll have the option to list the address of our New Jersey registered office on your Certificate of Incorporation. As a result, you’re less likely to get targeted by data-sellers, you’ll receive less junk mail, and you won’t have to deal with a bunch of unwanted salespeople showing up at your door. Furthermore, managing and growing a nonprofit corporation usually means leaving your desk, attending meetings, traveling, and maybe soliciting contributions from potential donors. That’s a difficult job if you’re stuck at your desk all day during normal business hours.
Hire Northwest, and we’ll make sure someone is always available to accept services of process on your behalf. And if we ever 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’s federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN) is a lot like an individual’s social security number—without one it’s hard to establish legitimacy in the eyes of other businesses, most banks, vendors, and potential donors. You’ll also need an EIN to apply for federal tax-exempt status with the IRS.
Once the State of New Jersey approves your articles, you can apply for an EIN online at the IRS website. Or you can sign up for Northwest’s convenient EIN service for an additional fee.
Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws
New Jersey requires your nonprofit’s board of directors to adopt bylaws at its first official meeting. Why? Because without bylaws your nonprofit is flying blind. Will your nonprofit have members? If so, do those members have the right to vote in the election of your nonprofit’s directors? What are the distinct responsibilities of your nonprofit’s president and secretary? Will your nonprofit hire paid employees? (And so on!) Without clear answers to questions like these, your nonprofit’s directors and officers can’t steer the organization along a coherent path.
It isn’t easy to write effective bylaws, but Northwest can help. We have years of experience working with nonprofits and the nonprofit sector, we’re aware of the sorts of problems and obstacles most nonprofits face down the road, and we have used this knowledge to craft an adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as numerous other free nonprofit forms, that you can use to make sure your New Jersey nonprofit starts strong and stays strong. Check out our free attorney-drafted nonprofit bylaws template and learn more about New Jersey nonprofit bylaws.
Apply For Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions
Incorporating as a New Jersey nonprofit doesn’t automatically qualify your organization for federal tax-exempt status. For that to happen, you need to file an Application for Recognition of Exemption with the IRS detailing your nonprofit’s history, purpose, and finances. Your object is to show that your nonprofit qualifies as one of the more than two dozen different types of tax-exempt entities recognized by the IRS in Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. Most nonprofits seek recognition under Section 501(c)(3), which applies to public charities and private foundations. If you want 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for your nonprofit, make sure your Certificate of Incorporation features a statement of purpose and dissolution of assets clause that include the specific language required by the IRS for 501(c)(3) organizations.
All registered New Jersey nonprofits are exempt from the state’s corporate business tax, but you’ll need to apply to the NJ Department of the Treasury’s Taxation Division to seek a state sales tax exemption and exemption from the petroleum products gross receipt tax. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to New Jersey state tax exemptions.
Obtain New Jersey State Licenses
Does A New Jersey Nonprofit Need A Business License?
New Jersey doesn’t issue a general, statewide business license, but specific cities and counties may have licensing requirements of their own. It’s best to contact your local city clerk’s office to find out which (if any) of your nonprofit’s activities require a license.
How Does My Nonprofit Register For New Jersey Tax Accounts?
To register for New Jersey state tax accounts (such as an employee withholding tax), submit a Business Registration Application (form NJ-Reg) to the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
Do I Have To Register My Nonprofit As A Charity In New Jersey?
Most New Jersey charities will need to register as a New Jersey charity with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs and renew your registration each year. The registration and renewal fees vary, depending on how much money your nonprofit charity raises or expects to raise, but both sets of fees follow the same pattern:
|Gross Annual Contributions||Fee|
|$0 – $10,000||$30|
|$10,001 – $25,000||$30|
|$25,001 – $100,000||$60|
|$100,001 – $500,000||$150|
|More than $500,000||$250|
If your nonprofit takes in more than $250,000 in gross contributions, you’ll use form CRI-150-I for your initial registration and renewal. The renewal deadline is six months after the end of your nonprofit’s fiscal year, and you can register and renew online at the New Jersey Charities Portal. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to New Jersey charities.
Open a Bank Account For Your NJ Nonprofit
To open a bank account for your New Jersey nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items to the bank:
- A copy of your New Jersey Certificate of Incorporation
- A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
- Your New Jersey 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 the NJ Nonprofit Annual Report
New Jersey requires all businesses, including nonprofits, to submit an annual report to the Department of the Treasury. This is an online filing that updates or confirms your nonprofit’s information with the state (such as your registered agent’s name and New Jersey address), and it is always due on the anniversary of your nonprofit’s incorporation. The report comes with a $30 fee and an additional processing fee for paying with a credit card when you file online.
When you hire Northwest to serve as your registered agent, we’ll send you reminders to file your annual report. Or you can add our convenient New Jersey Annual Report Service for an additional fee and leave the report to us.