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Starting A Nonprofit

Starting A Nonprofit Steps

Consider that accomplishing all the steps to starting a nonprofit generally takes from six to nine months or more. Status depends on how long the IRS takes to review your application for tax exemption. The cost is $575-1025 or more in filing fees, not including any professional fees for an attorney or accountant.

1. Read the free booklet.

This document was developed by University of Richmond School of Law students in 2005. It takes you step-by-step through the Virginia incorporation and the IRS filings. This resource answers many of your general questions about the process of starting a nonprofit organization.

Please note, “Starting a nonprofit…” was written prior to the introduction of the IRS Form 1023-EZ and includes a legal disclaimer that should be reviewed prior to reading the free resource.

2. Attend seminars and training with The Community Foundation

  • Building Blocks for Nonprofit Board Members: This course covers the legal duties of nonprofit board members and provides an overview of best practices in nonprofit governance.
  • ConnectVA Learning Center: Check out our course offerings!
  • Starting a Nonprofit Workshop: Contact the Richmond Public Library to learn when they will offer this free course.

4. Register with the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission as a non stock corporation

    • Virginia State Corporation Commission
      Office of the Clerk, P.O. Box 1197
      Richmond, VA 23218
      Phone: 804-371-9733 or 1-866-722-2551 (toll free in Virginia) or 804-371-9206 (TDD)
      E-mail: sccinfo@scc.virginia.gov
    • Forms and Fees related to Virginia Nonstock Corporations
    • Step by Step Guide to Incorporation from NOLO Law

For an overview of laws in Virginia applicable to tax exempt organizations, including filing requirements, see:

5. Prepare bylaws for your non stock corporation

You also need to prepare bylaws for your nonprofit that conform to Virginia law concerning non stock corporations. The bylaws outline the procedures used for holding meetings, electing Officers and Directors, lengths of terms, appointing committees, and taking care of other corporate business. The bylaws do not have to be filed with the State, but will be needed to hold the organizational meeting of the Board and for requesting tax exempt status from the IRS.

6. Request EIN (employer identification number)

To apply to the IRS for exempt status, 501c3, you’ll need to first incorporate and request an employer identification number (EIN), even if you do not have any employees.

See Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number, and its related instructions to learn how to obtain an EIN. You may also obtain an EIN via telephone, by calling 1-800-829-4933, or by applying online.

7. Register with the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Every charitable organization which intends to solicit contributions in the State of Virginia must be registered with the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Registration should take place prior to beginning any fundraising efforts.

For an overview of the registration process:

To see the Form 102, Registration Statement for a Charitable Organization:

8. Apply to the IRS for tax exempt status

The IRS also has a customer service department for nonprofit organizations—pick up Form 1023 at your local IRS office or reach their Tax Exempt specialists by calling (877) 829-5500.

See Application Process for a step-by-step review of what an organization needs to know and to do in order to apply for recognition by the IRS of tax-exempt status. Frequently asked questions about applying for exemption generally, and Form 1023 and Form 1023-EZ specifically, are also available.

User Fees
Organizations whose gross receipts average less than $10,000 per year will pay $400. Others pay $850. Read more about user fees.