How to Start a Nonprofit in Washington


Steve Goldstein
Steve Goldstein
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Start a Nonprofit in Washington

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.

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-

  1. Nonprofit LLC
  2. Nonprofit Corporation
  3. 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
  • Free2Luv
  • 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.

FAQs

What types of nonprofits exist in Washington?
In Washington, nonprofits can be organized as a corporation, unincorporated association, charitable trust, or limited liability company.
What is the process for registering a nonprofit in Washington?
In Washington, you must register with the Washington Secretary of State’s office. You must also register with the Washington Department of Revenue and the Department of Social and Health Services Charitable Solicitations.
What information do I need to provide to register my nonprofit in Washington?
You will need to provide a name for your organization, a purpose statement, information about the directors, a copy of the bylaws, and a copy of the Articles of Incorporation.
Are there any other forms I need to file to start a nonprofit in Washington?
Yes. You’ll need to file for tax-exempt status with the IRS, and you may also need to register with the Washington State Office of the Attorney General.
What are the filing fees associated with starting a nonprofit in Washington?
The fee to register a nonprofit in Washington varies based on the type of organization. Generally, it costs $200 for a corporation and $40 for an unincorporated association.
Are there any other costs associated with starting a nonprofit in Washington?
You may also need to pay for a registered agent, attorney fees, and other costs related to filing the necessary forms.
Is there a minimum amount of money that needs to be raised to start a nonprofit in Washington?
No, there is no minimum amount of money that needs to be raised to start a nonprofit in Washington.
What kind of reporting requirements are there for a nonprofit in Washington?
Nonprofits in Washington must file annual reports and other financial reports with the Secretary of State’s office. Additionally, nonprofits must file a report with the Department of Revenue and the Department of Social and Health Services Charitable Solicitations.
Are there any restrictions on how a nonprofit can spend its money in Washington?
Yes. Nonprofits must ensure that all funds are used for charitable purposes and not for personal gain. Additionally, nonprofits must comply with all state, federal, and local laws.
Are there any tax benefits for a nonprofit in Washington?
Yes. Nonprofits in Washington are exempt from state and local taxes, and may also be eligible for federal tax deductions. Additionally, donations to a nonprofit may be tax deductible for the donor.
What legal steps do I need to take to start a nonprofit in Washington?
In order to form a nonprofit in Washington, you will need to register with the Washington Secretary of State, complete and file IRS Form 1023, and register with the state Department of Revenue for tax-exempt status.
How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Washington?
Fees to start a nonprofit in Washington vary, but typically you will need to pay a filing fee to the Secretary of State and a fee to the IRS.
What types of nonprofits can I form in Washington?
The types of nonprofits you can form in Washington include corporations, trusts, unincorporated associations, and charitable organizations.
What paperwork do I need to start a nonprofit in Washington?
You will need to complete and submit Articles of Incorporation to the Secretary of State, as well as IRS Form 1023 and any other paperwork required by the state.
How do I register my nonprofit in Washington?
First, you will need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. Then, you will need to register with the IRS and complete and submit IRS Form 1023. Finally, you will need to register with the state Department of Revenue for tax-exempt status.
Are there any special requirements for starting a nonprofit in Washington?
Yes, nonprofits in Washington are required to obtain a Certificate of Authority from the Secretary of State and must obtain tax-exempt status from the state Department of Revenue.
What is the timeline for starting a nonprofit in Washington?
The timeline for starting a nonprofit in Washington will vary depending on the complexity of your application and the processing times of the necessary government agencies. Generally, it can take anywhere from four to eight weeks to form a nonprofit in Washington.
What is the difference between a nonprofit and a charity?
Nonprofits are organizations that are formed to pursue activities that are beneficial to the public but do not generate a profit. Charities are a type of nonprofit that are formed to provide relief to the poor or to benefit the community in some way.
What is the Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act?
The Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act is a state law that outlines the requirements for forming and maintaining a nonprofit corporation in Washington.
Can I start a nonprofit in Washington without hiring a lawyer?
Yes, you can start a nonprofit in Washington without hiring a lawyer, although it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer to ensure that you are following all of the necessary steps and requirements.
Does a Washington nonprofit need to register with the IRS?
Yes, a Washington nonprofit must register with the IRS and obtain tax-exempt status in order to be recognized as a nonprofit organization.
How long does it take for a Washington nonprofit to receive its tax-exempt status?
The amount of time it takes for a Washington nonprofit to receive its tax-exempt status will depend on the complexity of the application and the processing times of the IRS. Generally, it can take anywhere from six to twelve weeks to receive tax-exempt status.
Are there any special rules for nonprofit fundraising in Washington?
Yes, nonprofits in Washington must register with the state Charities Program and must comply with the state’s rules for fundraising.
How do I maintain my Washington nonprofit?
You must file annual reports with the Secretary of State, maintain records of your activities, and comply with all state and federal laws and regulations.
What is the Washington Charities Program?
The Washington Charities Program is a state program that regulates nonprofit fundraising activities in Washington.
Does my Washington nonprofit need to renew its registration with the Secretary of State?
Yes, all Washington nonprofits must renew their registration with the Secretary of State every year.
Are there any limits on how much money a Washington nonprofit can raise?
No, there are no limits on how much money a Washington nonprofit can raise, however, all nonprofits must comply with state and federal laws and regulations governing nonprofit fundraising.
How do I change the name of my Washington nonprofit?
You can change the name of your Washington nonprofit by filing an amendment to the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.
What is the difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit organization?
Nonprofits are organizations that are formed to pursue activities that are beneficial to the public but do not generate a profit. For-profit organizations are businesses that are formed to generate a profit from their activities.
How do I change the address of my Washington nonprofit?
You can change the address of your Washington nonprofit by filing an amendment to the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.
Are there any special rules for nonprofits operating in multiple states?
Yes, if your nonprofit is operating in multiple states, you may need to register with each state and comply with the laws and regulations of each state in which you are operating.
What is the Washington Nonprofit Code?
The Washington Nonprofit Code is a set of laws that govern the formation and operation of nonprofits in Washington.
Are there any special requirements for running a nonprofit in Washington?
Yes, nonprofits in Washington must register with the state Charities Program, comply with the state’s laws and regulations, and obtain tax-exempt status from the state Department of Revenue.

Also Read

Why Washington Nonprofit Corporation is So Important

One key reason why Washington nonprofit corporations are so important is their ability to address a multitude of issues that impact our society. Nonprofit organizations span across a vast array of sectors, including healthcare, education, social services, environmental conservation, arts and culture, and more. This diversity enables these organizations to make a significant impact on a range of issues that affect us all.

Additionally, nonprofit corporations in Washington often fill gaps that government agencies and for-profit businesses are unable or unwilling to address. For example, many nonprofits focus on serving marginalized populations, such as low-income individuals, refugees, or people experiencing homelessness. By providing these underserved communities with the resources and support they need, nonprofit corporations help to create a more equitable and inclusive society for all.

Moreover, Washington nonprofit corporations play a crucial role in fostering social innovation and positive change. These organizations are often at the forefront of tackling pressing social and environmental challenges, developing new solutions, and advocating for policies that benefit the greater good. Through their advocacy efforts, nonprofit corporations can bring about meaningful change and help shape the future of our communities.

Another reason why nonprofit corporations are so crucial is their ability to engage volunteers and donors in their efforts. By mobilizing community members to support their cause through donations of time, money, or resources, nonprofit organizations are able to amplify their impact and reach. This spirit of collective action not only strengthens communities but also fosters a sense of belonging and purpose among those who contribute to these organizations.

Additionally, Washington nonprofit corporations play a vital role in promoting civic engagement and democratic values. By empowering individuals to get involved in issues they care about, nonprofit organizations help to build a more informed and active citizenry. This engagement is essential for the health of our democracy, ensuring that all voices are heard and that decisions are made in the best interest of the community as a whole.

In conclusion, Washington nonprofit corporations are an essential part of our social fabric and play a vital role in addressing a wide range of issues that impact our communities. These organizations fill critical gaps, foster social innovation, engage volunteers and donors, and promote civic engagement. By supporting nonprofit corporations, we can help build a stronger, more equitable, and more vibrant society for all.

Conclusion

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.

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