How to Start a Nonprofit in Wisconsin


Steve Goldstein
Steve Goldstein
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Start a Nonprofit in Wisconsin

Are you looking to start a nonprofit in Wisconsin? You’ve come to the right place. Known for its vibrant community and rich culture, Wisconsin (often referred to as The Badger 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 Wisconsin’s motto, “Forward,” thousands of nonprofits are founded within the state each year. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to starting your own nonprofit corporation in Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin, we encourage you to read this article in its entirety.

What is a Nonprofit in Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin might be eligible for tax exemptions (check with Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin Registered Agent

The third step is to get a Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.

Step 4: Write Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin state law. It is similar to an LLC operating agreement in Wisconsin for the LLC owners.

Step 5: File the Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation

This is the most important step. File your Articles of Incorporation with the Wisconsin Secretary of State. You can do it through two methods, online and by mail. All the formation forms, such as the Wisconsin LLC Articles of Organization form, the Wisconsin Articles of Incorporation form for corporations, forms for LLPs, and all others can be found on the Wisconsin 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 $100 for online and by mail filing to the State of WI – Dept. of Financial Institutions, P.O. Box 93348, Milwaukee, WI 53293 or upload it online (if available).

Step 6: Obtain Tax ID for Your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin

The next step is to get the business licenses you need to run your nonprofit organization in Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin, you must apply for the tax exemption to Wisconsin 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 Tax Exemption Certificate to apply for the state tax exemption. Read Wisconsin classification of taxes to learn more about the Wisconsin tax structure.

Step 10: Get Insurance for Your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance for more information.

After Forming Your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin

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

  • Fellow Mortals Inc.
  • Pit Bull Advocates of America Inc.
  • Starfish Foundation Inc.
  • Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners of the Americas
  • Inc.
  • Innovative Schools Network
  • Freedom From Religion Inc
  • International Institute for Global Leadership Inc
  • Reece’s Rainbow | Special Needs Adoption Support.

FAQs

What are the steps for starting a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
The steps for starting a nonprofit in Wisconsin include developing your mission and purpose, forming your nonprofit’s governing board, obtaining a federal tax ID number, registering with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, drafting organizational documents, applying for tax-exempt status, and filing the necessary paperwork with the state of Wisconsin.
What type of entity do I need to form a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, the entity that you need to form a nonprofit is a nonprofit corporation.
Is there a filing fee to register a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
Yes, the filing fee to register a nonprofit in Wisconsin is $30.
What documents do I need to register a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
The documents you need to register a nonprofit in Wisconsin include Articles of Incorporation, Nonprofit Corporation Formation Application, and Nonprofit Corporation Reservation of Name.
How do I obtain a federal tax ID number for a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
You can obtain a federal tax ID number for a nonprofit in Wisconsin by filing Form SS-4 with the Internal Revenue Service.
Do I need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions?
Yes, you need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions in order to operate as a nonprofit in Wisconsin.
What documents do I need to file with the state of Wisconsin?
The documents you need to file with the state of Wisconsin include the Articles of Incorporation, Application for Registration of Foreign Corporation, and Charitable Organization Registration Statement.
Is there a fee to apply for tax-exempt status in Wisconsin?
Yes, there is a fee to apply for tax-exempt status in Wisconsin. The fee depends on the size of your organization and other factors.
What is the process for obtaining tax-exempt status in Wisconsin?
The process for obtaining tax-exempt status in Wisconsin involves filing an application with the Internal Revenue Service, submitting the required documents to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and filing Form 990-N (e-Postcard) annually.
Is there a Wisconsin state sales tax exemption for nonprofits in Wisconsin?
Yes, there is a Wisconsin state sales tax exemption for nonprofits in Wisconsin. The exemption is available for qualified nonprofit organizations that meet the state’s criteria.
Do I need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development?
Yes, you need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development in order to hire employees in Wisconsin.
How do I register with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development?
You can register with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development by filing Form DWD-581 with the department.
Do I need to register for payroll taxes in Wisconsin?
Yes, you need to register for payroll taxes in Wisconsin in order to pay your employees.
What forms do I need to register for payroll taxes in Wisconsin?
The forms you need to register for payroll taxes in Wisconsin include Form WT-7 and Form WT-5.
Do I need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue?
Yes, you need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to collect and remit state income and sales taxes.
How do I register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue?
You can register with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue by filing Form S-103 with the department.
Do I need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection?
Yes, you need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection if you are selling goods or services in the state.
How do I register with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection?
You can register with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by filing Form DATCP-101 with the department.
Do I need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services?
Yes, you need to register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services if you are providing professional services in the state.
How do I register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services?
You can register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services by filing the appropriate forms with the department.
How do I obtain liability insurance for a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
You can obtain liability insurance for a nonprofit in Wisconsin by contacting an insurance agent or broker licensed to do business in the state.
Is there a licensing requirement for nonprofits in Wisconsin?
Yes, there is a licensing requirement for nonprofits in Wisconsin. Depending on the type of services you provide, you may need to obtain a state license.
Are there any special regulations for nonprofits in Wisconsin?
Yes, there are special regulations for nonprofits in Wisconsin. Please consult with an attorney to determine which regulations apply to your organization.
Are there any grants available for nonprofits in Wisconsin?
Yes, there are grants available for nonprofits in Wisconsin. Please contact your local nonprofit organizations to learn more about available grants.
Are there any resources available to help me start a nonprofit in Wisconsin?
Yes, there are resources available to help you start a nonprofit in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions offers a free online guide for starting a nonprofit in the state.
What type of banking services does a nonprofit in Wisconsin need?
A nonprofit in Wisconsin needs a checking account, savings account, and merchant services account.
Is there a website for nonprofits in Wisconsin?
Yes, there is a website for nonprofits in Wisconsin. The website is www.wisconsinnonprofits.org.
Are there any events for nonprofits in Wisconsin?
Yes, there are events for nonprofits in Wisconsin. Please contact your local nonprofit organizations to learn about upcoming events.
Are there any rules for fundraising in Wisconsin?
Yes, there are rules for fundraising in Wisconsin. Please consult with an attorney to ensure that you are in compliance with state laws.
Can a nonprofit in Wisconsin solicit donations?
Yes, a nonprofit in Wisconsin can solicit donations. There are certain rules and regulations that must be followed when soliciting donations.
Are there any restrictions on how a nonprofit in Wisconsin can use its funds?
Yes, there are restrictions on how a nonprofit in Wisconsin can use its funds. Please consult with an attorney to ensure that you are in compliance with state laws.

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Why Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation is So Important

One of the primary reasons why the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation is so important is its ability to fill gaps in services and address social issues that might otherwise be overlooked. Nonprofit organizations often cater to underserved populations or tackle problems that aren’t adequately addressed by the government or the private sector. In Wisconsin, the Nonprofit Corporation provides support and assistance to a wide range of causes, ranging from education and healthcare to poverty alleviation and environmental conservation.

Furthermore, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation serves as a manifestation of the community’s collective goodwill and desire for positive change. Its existence highlights the capacity for people to come together, take action, and make a difference in the lives of others. Through a combination of advocacy, volunteer work, fundraising, and service provision, the citizens of Wisconsin demonstrate their commitment to building a better, more inclusive society.

Another reason why the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation is so important is its emphasis on collaboration and partnerships. Nonprofit organizations often work in collaboration with other entities, including government agencies, businesses, and community groups, to leverage resources, increase efficiency, and maximize impact. By fostering collaborations with various stakeholders, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation can engage diverse perspectives, pool resources, and coordinate efforts to address complex social issues effectively.

Moreover, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation plays a vital role in fostering a sense of community and belonging among its members and supporters. Nonprofit organizations provide opportunities for individuals to connect with like-minded people, engage in meaningful activities, and contribute to causes they care about. By fostering a sense of belonging and purpose, the Nonprofit Corporation helps strengthen social ties, promote civic engagement, and build a sense of collective responsibility for the well-being of the community.

In addition to addressing immediate needs and social issues, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation also plays a crucial role in fostering long-term social change. Nonprofit organizations often engage in advocacy, policy research, and community organizing to address root causes of social problems and advocate for systemic change. Through sustained efforts to address underlying issues, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation can help create a more just, equitable, and sustainable society for all residents.

In conclusion, the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation serves as a vital force for social good, addressing unmet needs, fostering collaboration, building community, and advocating for change. Its contributions to the state are invaluable, enriching the lives of residents, strengthening social ties, and advancing the common good. The important work of the Wisconsin Nonprofit Corporation underscores the importance of nonprofit organizations in empowering communities, promoting social justice, and creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

Conclusion

Starting a nonprofit corporation in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin, you must follow the steps mentioned above in the article.

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