How to Start a Nonprofit in Maine

Steve Goldstein
Steve Goldstein
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Start a Nonprofit in Maine

Are you looking to start a nonprofit in Maine? You’ve come to the right place. Known for its vibrant community and rich culture, Maine (often referred to as The Pine Tree State) is an ideal location for establishing a nonprofit organization. Unlike for-profit businesses, nonprofits focus on addressing pressing social issues and require a strong foundation, thorough research, and a clear mission targeting a specific community problem.

Embarking on the journey of creating a nonprofit entails various crucial steps, such as obtaining 501(c)(3) status. A 501(c)(3) organization is designed for charitable, religious, educational purposes, and more, qualifying it for federal and state tax exemptions.

In the spirit of Maine’s motto, “I lead (Dirigo),” thousands of nonprofits are founded within the state each year. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to starting your own nonprofit corporation in Maine. Keep in mind that the steps discussed here are general guidelines, and modifications may be necessary depending on your specific circumstances. To gain a deep understanding of how to start a nonprofit in Maine, we encourage you to read this article in its entirety.

What is a Nonprofit in Maine?

Nonprofit organizations are legal entities that operate to serve public benefits and address community issues. Unlike for-profit organizations, nonprofits do not aim to generate any profit. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally exempts nonprofit organizations from tax. However, based on the business entity structure, you will receive tax exemptions as a nonprofit.

In Maine, ensure you have a community issue to address before you start forming your nonprofit. It can generally be education, religion, charity, social service, or other social issues. Nonprofits do not pay taxes on the money they receive through fundraising programs, donations, or any charitable funding.

Types of Nonprofits in Maine

The first thing one has to decide is what type of nonprofit structure one wants. There are several types of nonprofits one can start. Here is a list of nonprofit types one can choose from-

  1. Nonprofit LLC
  2. Nonprofit Corporation
  3. Unincorporated Nonprofit

Forming an LLC in Maine for your nonprofit can be a smooth option. However, having a corporation is less complex than having a nonprofit LLC. Hence, it is wise to start a nonprofit corporation instead of an unincorporated nonprofit or nonprofit LLC.

LLCBuddy Editorial Team.

Technically, starting a corporation for your nonprofit protects your personal assets but also is eligible for Federal and State tax exemptions. When you form an LLC for your nonprofit, it only protects your personal assets but does not give you any tax exemptions. On the other hand, a nonprofit Corporation has both corporation and limited liability company benefits. You can also have an unincorporated structure where you don’t have to register it. Unincorporated nonprofits in Maine might be eligible for tax exemptions (check with Maine Revenue Services), but this type of organization does not get to enjoy limited liability and personal asset protection.

How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Maine

Setting up a nonprofit corporation requires a few things to consider. Name of the nonprofit, initial directors, drafting bylaws, get a Resident Agent, obtain tax IDs, insurance, and a bank account – these are important steps you must follow. The steps mentioned here are general business formation steps. State-wise, some steps can be different. Getting an expert consultation before you start your nonprofit corporation formation is recommended. Here are the steps explained below-

Step 1: Get a Suitable Name for Your Maine Nonprofit Corp

The first step is to name your nonprofit corporation. You must be sure that the name is available and that no other organization is using this name. You can check the Maine LLC name search to find the best suitable name for your organization. You must follow those rules to avoid any legal issues later. You can reserve the name for 120 days for any domestic entity (such as a nonprofit LLC) if you’re not forming the nonprofit immediately.

Step 2: Appoint the Initial Board of Directors

The next step is to get your nonprofit’s initial board of directors. It is very important when you are setting up a nonprofit corporation. You need at least Three unrelated directors to start the organization. If you don’t choose a minimum of Three directors, it will automatically become a member-managed corporation.

Step 3: Appoint Your Maine Resident Agent

The third step is to get a Maine Resident Agent for your nonprofit corporation. The Resident Agent is a person who receives all the legal documents on your behalf. It is necessary to get a registered agent. He/she must be above 18 years old and have a physical address in Maine.

Step 4: Write Maine Nonprofit Bylaws

The next important step is to write the company bylaws. The directors and board members must decide how the meetings, elections, voting, and other corporate activities will be held. These bylaws must comply with the Maine state law. It is similar to an LLC operating agreement in Maine for the LLC owners.

Step 5: File the Maine Articles of Incorporation

This is the most important step. File your Articles of Incorporation with the Maine Secretary of State. You can do it through two ways, by mail and in person drop off. All the formation forms, such as the Maine LLC Certificate of Formation form, the Maine Articles of Incorporation form for corporations, forms for LLPs, and all others can be found on the Maine SOS official website. Submit the details of your nonprofit corporation, like the name of the nonprofit, address, name and address of the registered agent, operation dates, directors’ details, and more information related to your company. You can send the form (for offline filing) and the filing fee of $145 for filing in person and by mail to the Secretary of State, Division of Corporations, UCC and Commissions, 101 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0101 or upload it online (if available).

Step 6: Obtain Tax ID for Your Maine Nonprofit Corporation

The subsequent step involves obtaining a Tax ID for your nonprofit corporation. You will need to acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the official IRS website. To obtain the EIN, submit your application to the IRS office either by mail or through their online platform. There is no associated cost for this process.

Step 7: Get Business Licenses in Maine

The next step is to get the business licenses you need to run your nonprofit organization in Maine. Check with the local government office if any special licenses you need to run your nonprofit. You can file your nonprofit as a charity if you want.

Step 8: Federal Tax Exemption

You must submit Form 1023 to the IRS to file for federal tax exemption. This form, titled “Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,” is required for all nonprofit corporations. Smaller nonprofits have the option to file Form 1023-EZ instead. You will be prompted to provide details about your organization upon obtaining the relevant form. Complete the form with the necessary information and submit it. The filing fees are $600 for Form 1023 and $275 for Form 1023-EZ.

Step 9: State Tax Exemption

Once you get the Federal Tax Exempt, it is time for State Tax Exempt. In Maine, you must apply for the tax exemption to Maine Revenue Services. Get the form, fill it up with the correct details, and send it to the office. You may need to pay a fee along with the form and supportive documents to apply for the State Tax Exemption. You need State Tax Exemption Form to apply for the state tax exemption. Read Maine classification of taxes to learn more about the Maine tax structure.

Step 10: Get Insurance for Your Maine Nonprofit

Once you start your nonprofit, you must get insurance to protect your organization. You must get workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance if you have employees. Based on your nonprofit structure, you might need general liability insurance, property, vehicle, auto insurance, etc. You can contact the insurance providers to learn more about which are required for your organization. Also, you can contact Maine Bureau of Insurance for more information.

After Forming Your Maine Nonprofit Corporation

Once your nonprofit is formed, there are additional steps to complete:

  • Get a Business Bank Account: You must get a business account for all types of business-related transactions in Maine. You may need different documents based on the bank and place of business. Check with the bank for it.
  • File Nonprofit as Charity: This is optional. Your nonprofit is either for charity purposes or any purpose that meets your community’s needs. If your organization is for charity purposes, then you can file your nonprofit as a charity to enjoy tax exemptions.
  • Other Business Compliances: You may need additional compliances based on your nonprofit type. Check with your attorney or local authority for more information.

Names of Nonprofit Corporations in Maine

Following are some of the Nonprofit Organizations in Maine. The contact information of these organizations can be found on Maine SOS official websites.

  • Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake Inc
  • Youth Journalism International
  • Chewonki Foundation Inc
  • Wreaths Across America
  • Give a Dog a Home Rescue
  • Ruths Reusable Resources
  • Maine Cancer Foundation
  • Institute for Humane Education


What are the steps to starting a nonprofit in Maine?
The steps to starting a nonprofit in Maine include registering the organization with the Maine Secretary of State, obtaining an employer identification number from the IRS, creating bylaws, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, and filing for tax exempt status with the IRS.
How do I register a nonprofit in Maine?
To register a nonprofit in Maine, you must fill out and submit the Articles of Incorporation to the Department of the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $50.
What forms do I need to start a nonprofit in Maine?
You will need to complete the Articles of Incorporation, an Employer Identification Number (EIN) application, and a Certificate of Formation to start a nonprofit in Maine.
What is required to form a nonprofit in Maine?
To form a nonprofit in Maine, you must first file Articles of Incorporation with the Maine Secretary of State. You must also obtain an EIN, create bylaws, and obtain any necessary licenses or permits.
Do nonprofit organizations in Maine need to register?
Yes, all nonprofit organizations in Maine must register with the Maine Secretary of State.
Are there any special tax exemptions for nonprofits in Maine?
Yes, nonprofits in Maine are exempt from income, sales, and property taxes.
Does a nonprofit in Maine have to have a board of directors?
Yes, all Maine nonprofits are required to have a board of directors.
Is there a fee to register a nonprofit in Maine?
Yes, the filing fee is $50.
Do Maine nonprofits have to file an annual report?
Yes, all Maine nonprofits are required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s office.
How do I apply for tax-exempt status in Maine?
To apply for tax-exempt status in Maine, you must file Form 990 or 990-EZ with the IRS.
How do I get an employer identification number (EIN) for my nonprofit in Maine?
To get an EIN for your nonprofit in Maine, you must apply online through the IRS website.
Does a Maine nonprofit need to file with the IRS?
Yes, all Maine nonprofits must file a Form 990 or 990-EZ with the IRS.
Are there any requirements for creating bylaws for a Maine nonprofit?
Yes, all Maine nonprofits must have bylaws that outline the organization’s mission, purpose, and structure.
What licenses or permits do I need to start a nonprofit in Maine?
Depending on the type of business activities that your nonprofit will be engaged in, you may need to obtain certain licenses or permits.
What are the benefits of starting a nonprofit in Maine?
The benefits of starting a nonprofit in Maine include tax exemptions, the ability to solicit donations and grants, and the ability to provide services to the community.
Does a Maine nonprofit have to have an office?
No, a Maine nonprofit does not have to have an office, but it must have a physical address.
How do I apply for a grant as a nonprofit in Maine?
To apply for a grant as a nonprofit in Maine, you must contact potential grantors to inquire about their grant application processes.
Are there any restrictions for a nonprofit in Maine?
Yes, all Maine nonprofits must abide by the laws of the state and the regulations of the IRS.
Does a Maine nonprofit need to have members?
No, a Maine nonprofit does not need to have members.
How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Maine?
The cost to start a nonprofit in Maine includes the filing fee for the Articles of Incorporation ($50), any fees associated with obtaining an EIN, and any other necessary fees or permits.
What is the difference between a nonprofit and a charity in Maine?
The difference between a nonprofit and a charity in Maine is that a nonprofit is an organization that is exempt from taxes, while a charity is an organization that provides services to the public without a profit motive.
How much time does it take to start a nonprofit in Maine?
It usually takes several weeks to complete the steps necessary to start a nonprofit in Maine.
Is there a minimum size for a nonprofit in Maine?
No, there is no minimum size for a nonprofit in Maine.
How do I find volunteers for my nonprofit in Maine?
To find volunteers for your nonprofit in Maine, you should reach out to local businesses, schools, and churches. You can also post volunteer opportunities on various online platforms.
Can I start a nonprofit in Maine without an attorney?
Yes, you can start a nonprofit in Maine without an attorney, but it is recommended that you seek legal advice to ensure that you are in compliance with all applicable laws.
What do I need to do to get insurance for my nonprofit in Maine?
To get insurance for your nonprofit in Maine, you must contact an insurance broker or agent to discuss your organization’s needs.
Do I need to register my nonprofit in Maine with the IRS?
Yes, all Maine nonprofits must register with the IRS in order to be eligible for tax-exempt status.
What is a 501(c)(3) organization in Maine?
A 501(c)(3) organization in Maine is a nonprofit organization that has been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.
How do I apply for nonprofit status in Maine?
To apply for nonprofit status in Maine, you must file Form 990 or 990-EZ with the IRS.
What is the purpose of a nonprofit in Maine?
The purpose of a nonprofit in Maine is to provide a public benefit, such as providing services to the community or engaging in charitable activities.

Also Read

Why Maine Nonprofit Corporation is So Important

One of the key aspects of Maine Nonprofit Corporation is their ability to fill in the gaps left by government programs and services. Often these organizations serve populations who are vulnerable or marginalized, providing essential services that would otherwise be lacking. They are often the first responders in times of crisis, offering help and support to those affected by emergencies such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or public health crises.

Nonprofit organizations in Maine are also vital in advocating for social change and policy reforms. They often work tirelessly to bring awareness to pressing social issues, mobilize communities, and encourage lawmakers to take action. Through their advocacy efforts, they can drive systemic change and make a lasting impact on society.

Moreover, Maine Nonprofit Corporation plays a significant role in fostering community development and building social cohesion. They bring people together with shared values and interests, creating a sense of belonging and common purpose. They also provide platforms for individuals to contribute their time, talents, and resources towards a common cause, thereby promoting a culture of giving and volunteering.

Nonprofit organizations in Maine are also essential in advancing arts, culture, and heritage preservation in the state. They support local artists, performers, and artisans, creating opportunities for them to showcase their work and talent. They also contribute to the preservation of historical landmarks, traditions, and cultural practices that make Maine unique and diverse.

Furthermore, Maine Nonprofit Corporation contributes to the state’s economic development by creating jobs, fostering entrepreneurship, and stimulating innovation. They often collaborate with businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholders to drive economic growth and build resilient communities. Through their programs and initiatives, they can address economic disparities and promote equitable access to resources and opportunities.

In conclusion, Maine Nonprofit Corporation plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life for individuals and communities across the state. Their work is vital in addressing social issues, advocating for change, fostering community development, preserving arts and culture, and driving economic development. The impact of their efforts reverberates throughout society, making Maine a better place for all its residents. It is essential to recognize and support the vital work of these organizations to ensure a bright and prosperous future for the state.


Starting a nonprofit corporation in Maine is an incredible way to give back to your community and positively impact the causes that matter most to you. By forming a nonprofit, you can provide essential services, promote awareness, and make a lasting difference in the lives of those who need it most. In Maine, a lot of nonprofit organizations are there to cater to people in need. Starting a nonprofit corporation is better than an LLC, as it provides limited liability and tax benefits. It helps you save taxes. If you want to start a nonprofit in Maine, you must follow the steps mentioned above in the article.

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