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Are you looking to start a nonprofit in Washington? You’ve come to the right place. Known for its vibrant community and rich culture, Washington (often referred to as The Evergreen 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 Washington’s motto, “By and by (Al-ki),” thousands of nonprofits are founded within the state each year. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to starting your own nonprofit corporation in Washington. 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 Washington, we encourage you to read this article in its entirety.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
- What is a Nonprofit in Washington?
- Types of Nonprofits in Washington
- How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Washington
- Step 1: Get a Suitable Name for Your Washington Nonprofit Corp
- Step 2: Appoint the Initial Board of Directors
- Step 3: Appoint Your Washington Registered Agent
- Step 4: Write Washington Nonprofit Bylaws
- Step 5: File the Washington Articles of Incorporation
- Step 6: Obtain Tax ID for Your Washington Nonprofit Corporation
- Step 7: Get Business Licenses in Washington
- Step 8: Federal Tax Exemption
- Step 9: State Tax Exemption
- Step 10: Get Insurance for Your Washington Nonprofit
- After Forming Your Washington Nonprofit Corporation
What is a Nonprofit in Washington?
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 Washington, 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 Washington
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-
- Nonprofit LLC
- Nonprofit Corporation
- Unincorporated Nonprofit
Forming an LLC in Washington 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 Washington might be eligible for tax exemptions (check with Washington State Department of Revenue), but this type of organization does not get to enjoy limited liability and personal asset protection.
How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Washington
Setting up a nonprofit corporation requires a few things to consider. Name of the nonprofit, initial directors, drafting bylaws, get a Registered 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 180 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 One unrelated directors to start the organization. If you don’t choose a minimum of One directors, it will automatically become a member-managed corporation.
Step 3: Appoint Your Washington Registered Agent
The third step is to get a Washington Registered Agent for your nonprofit corporation. The Registered 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 Washington.
Step 4: Write Washington 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 Washington state law. It is similar to an LLC operating agreement in Washington for the LLC owners.
Step 5: File the Washington Articles of Incorporation
This is the most important step. File your Articles of Incorporation with the Washington Secretary of State. You can do it through two methods, online and by mail. All the formation forms, such as the Washington LLC Articles of Organization form, the Washington Articles of Incorporation form for corporations, forms for LLPs, and all others can be found on the Washington 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 $180 for online and by mail filing to the Secretary of State, Corporations Division. P.O. Box 40234 or upload it online (if available).
Step 6: Obtain Tax ID for Your Washington 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 Washington
The next step is to get the business licenses you need to run your nonprofit organization in Washington. 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 Washington, you must apply for the tax exemption to Washington State Department of Revenue. 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 Exemption Application to apply for the state tax exemption. Read Washington classification of taxes to learn more about the Washington tax structure.
Step 10: Get Insurance for Your Washington 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 Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner for more information.
After Forming Your Washington 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 Washington. 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 Washington
Following are some of the Nonprofit Organizations in Washington. The contact information of these organizations can be found on Washington SOS official websites.
- Elliott Advocacy
- Mercer Island Eastside Orphans & Waifs (aka MEOW Cat Rescue)
- International Snow Leopard Trust
- Save A Forgotten Equine
- Pasado’s Safe Haven
- Alliance For International Women’s Rights
- TisBest Philanthropy.
- Start a Nonprofit in Alabama
- Start a Nonprofit in Alaska
- Start a Nonprofit in Arizona
- Start a Nonprofit in Arkansas
- Start a Nonprofit in California
- Start a Nonprofit in Colorado
- Start a Nonprofit in Connecticut
- Start a Nonprofit in DC
- Start a Nonprofit in Delaware
- Start a Nonprofit in Florida
- Start a Nonprofit in Georgia
- Start a Nonprofit in Hawaii
- Start a Nonprofit in Idaho
- Start a Nonprofit in Illinois
- Start a Nonprofit in Indiana
- Start a Nonprofit in Iowa
- Start a Nonprofit in Kansas
- Start a Nonprofit in Kentucky
- Start a Nonprofit in Louisiana
- Start a Nonprofit in Maine
- Start a Nonprofit in Maryland
- Start a Nonprofit in Massachusetts
- Start a Nonprofit in Michigan
- Start a Nonprofit in Minnesota
- Start a Nonprofit in Mississippi
- Start a Nonprofit in Missouri
- Start a Nonprofit in Montana
- Start a Nonprofit in Nebraska
- Start a Nonprofit in Nevada
- Start a Nonprofit in New Hampshire
- Start a Nonprofit in New Jersey
- Start a Nonprofit in New Mexico
- Start a Nonprofit in New York
- Start a Nonprofit in North Carolina
- Start a Nonprofit in North Dakota
- Start a Nonprofit in Ohio
- Start a Nonprofit in Oklahoma
- Start a Nonprofit in Oregon
- Start a Nonprofit in Pennsylvania
- Start a Nonprofit in Rhode Island
- Start a Nonprofit in South Carolina
- Start a Nonprofit in South Dakota
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- Start a Nonprofit in Texas
- Start a Nonprofit in Utah
- Start a Nonprofit in Vermont
- Start a Nonprofit in Virginia
- Start a Nonprofit in Washington
- Start a Nonprofit in West Virginia
- Start a Nonprofit in Wisconsin
- Start a Nonprofit in Wyoming
Starting a nonprofit corporation in Washington 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 Washington, 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 Washington, you must follow the steps mentioned above in the article.