How to Start a Non-Profit in Florida

How to Start a Non-Profit in Florida

If you’re looking to start a non-profit in Florida, you’re lucky. Florida is home to some of the most non-profit friendly laws in the country, and starting a non-profit here is relatively simple.

 In this post, we’ll outline the process for starting a non-profit in Florida, from registering with the state to getting your 501(c)(3) status. 

So if you’re ready to make your mark on the world and help others while doing it, keep reading!

Steps to start a non-profit org in Florida

Below is the drop-down of all the important steps for starting a non-profit organization in Florida. So, let’s get started.

1. Name Your Organization

Naming your non-profit organization is an important task. You want to choose a name that will accurately reflect your mission and goals while complying with state laws. In Florida, your non-profit’s name must include “corporation,” “incorporated,” or an abbreviation thereof. 

Additionally, the name cannot be too similar to another existing business or non-profit. Cooperative organizations may also use the word “cooperative” or “co-op” in their name, as long as it is still distinguishable from other businesses.

2. Recruit Incorporators Directors

To incorporate your non-profit in Florida, you will need at least three initial directors. These individuals will oversee the incorporation process and help determine the Articles of Incorporation filed with the state. 

Once the Articles are approved, the directors will become your non-profit’s first Board of Directors. In addition to the initial directors, you will also need to recruit incorporators.

 These individuals can be anyone over the age of 18 and do not have to be part of the Board of Directors. However, they will need to sign the Articles of Incorporation.

3. Appoint an Agent

Every Florida business, for-profit or non-profit, must have a registered agent. A registered agent agrees to receive official correspondence on behalf of the business. This correspondence can include service of process (if your non-profit is ever sued) and tax documents. 

The registered agent must have a physical address in Florida and be available during normal business hours. While you can act as your registered agent, it is often a good idea to appoint someone else, like a professional service, to avoid having important documents go unopened or undelivered.

4. File the Articles of Incorporation

The next step in starting your non-profit is to prepare the Articles of Incorporation. The Articles are a formal document that includes basic information about your non-profit, such as the organization’s name, registered agent, and purpose. 

Once you have prepared the Articles, they must be signed by the incorporators and filed with the Florida Division of Corporations. The filing fee is $35.

5. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

After your non-profit has been incorporated, you will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This is a nine-digit number used to identify your business for tax purposes. You can apply for an EIN online, by mail, or fax. The process is relatively simple and can be completed in minutes.

6. Establish Governing Documents and Policies

Now that your non-profit is running, it’s time to establish some initial governing documents and policies. These documents will outline how your non-profit will be run on a day-to-day basis and will help to ensure that it remains in compliance with state and federal laws. 

Some of the key documents you’ll need to create include bylaws, a conflict of interest policy, and a donor policy.

7. Obtain Florida State Tax Identification Numbers

Your non-profit will need to obtain a few different state tax identification numbers to do business in Florida. These include a sales tax number, unemployment compensation account number, and professional license number (if applicable). 

You can apply for these numbers online or by mail/fax. Once you have the numbers, you will need to open up accounts with the state for each one.

8. Apply for Tax-Exempt Status

One of the main benefits of starting a non-profit is that your organization may be eligible for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. This designation allows your non-profit to be exempt from federal income tax and allows donors to deduct their contributions on their income taxes. 

To apply for 501(c)(3) status, you must apply with the IRS. The process can be complex, so it is often a good idea to seek the help of a professional service or tax attorney.

9. Apply for State Tax Exemptions

In addition to federal tax exemption, your non-profit may also be eligible for state tax exemption. This will vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check with the Florida Department of Revenue to see what exemptions are available. 

The application process is similar to the one for 501(c)(3) status, and you may again want to seek the help of a professional service or tax attorney.

10. Register for Charitable Solicitation 

If your non-profit plans on soliciting donations from the public (aka fundraising), then you will need to register with the state of Florida. This can be done online or by mail/fax. The registration process is fairly simple and requires you to provide some basic information about your non-profit and fundraising activities.

11. Get Other Business Licenses & Permits

Depending on the nature of your non-profit’s activities, you may need to obtain other licenses and permits before starting operating. For example, if you plan on selling merchandise, you will need to obtain a sales tax license. 

If you’re hiring employees, you’ll need to obtain an unemployment compensation account number. And if your non-profit is going to be providing professional services, you’ll need to obtain a professional license. 

Check with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to see what licenses and permits are required for your business.

Conclusion:

You’ve now officially started your non-profit organization in Florida. While the process may seem daunting at first, you can be up and running in no time by following these simple steps. And remember, if you need help along the way, there are plenty of resources available to assist you.

 

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