The Ohio Attorney General reports more than 42,000 registered nonprofit organizations in Ohio. How do you add your great idea to the list?
The first decision you must make is what type of nonprofit organization to form. Probably the most common is the nonprofit corporation, because it enables the founder(s) to limit liability. Under Ohio law governing nonprofit corporations, the founder must file articles of incorporation with the Ohio Secretary of State. In addition to an initial filing fee of $125, you will need, among other things, a distinctive name and a well-defined purpose for the organization.
Once your nonprofit corporation is formed, you must still meet additional requirements to continue operating. Ohio law requires you to regularly make filings. For example, every five years nonprofits must file a statement of continued existence. Additionally, the Ohio Attorney General requires an annual charitable registration filing.
In order for your organization to be tax-exempt, you must apply for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, not the state of Ohio. The IRS lists a variety of different tax-exempt organizations – each with slightly different rules – so it may be helpful to consult an attorney to ensure that your corporation meets the correct guidelines. Annually, you will have to file Form 990 with the IRS; if you do not, your tax-exempt status could be revoked.
More helpful nonprofit resources are available from the Ohio Secretary of State or the Ohio Attorney General.