How to Form a Nonprofit in Florida

For resource material and guidance from the IRS on forming a nonprofit in Florida, visit these reference links:

Basic steps to form a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation in Florida.

Step 1: Choose the initial directors

Florida law requires that nonprofit corporations have at least three directors, who must not be related.

Step 2: Select a name to represent your non-profit corporation

Your name should not be the same as any other Florida business name. You can find out if the name you choose is already taken by performing a Florida search at the State of Florida Division of Corporations site. Your name must be unique and reflect the activities of your corporation. You must also include the words “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Corp.,” and “Inc.” in your name.

After you have chosen your name, you may reserve it with the Florida Secretary of State.

Step 3: Register a domain to match your corporate name

To get the word out about your non-profit, you will need a domain name. Choose a domain name that is similar to your corporate name.

Step 4: Select a Florida registered agent

Your registered agent needs to have a physical address within Florida. They must also be available during normal business hours. A registered agent’s function is to receive mail from The Secretary of State as well as legal documents such as notices of lawsuits.

A company cannot act as its own registered agent in Florida. Although a director can perform this role, it is often difficult for individuals to comply.

Step 5: Filing the Articles Of Incorporation

You must have the following information before you can file the Articles of Incorporation:

  • Name and address of the corporate entity
  • Name and address of the registered agent
  • The specific purpose of the non-profit
  • Names and addresses of at least three directors (optional).
  • How directors are selected
  • The effective date for incorporation
  • If you are filing online, contact information includes email

Sign the forms with the registered agent and incorporator. The incorporator is the applicant. Online applicants can enter their names in the signature boxes.

You may need to specify your corporate purpose if you plan on applying for tax-exempt status under 501(c). To ensure that your purpose is tax-exempt, check with the IRS.

It may be easier to open a bank account for a nonprofit corporation if you submit an optional list of at least three directors. The annual general meeting elects directors.

The date that the Florida Division of Corporations received your filing is your default effective date of incorporation. You can choose another date between five days prior to the default and 90 days later.

You can submit your filing online or by mail according to the instructions of the Division of Corporations of Florida. The most recent instructions are available.

Step 6: Establish corporate bylaws

Corporate bylaws specify when and how many meetings are held. These bylaws determine who is appointed to which position and how they are removed. They also set the rules for the organization’s governance.

It is important to have a copy of the bylaws in a safe place. Members of the public often support nonprofit corporations, and the appropriate bylaws provide them with confidence that the corporation runs well.

Step 7: Call an organizational meeting for the board of directors

Your board of directors must meet before you can begin operations. The organizational meeting is the first meeting. This is the time when you will approve any bylaws that have been created. The board will also decide the tax year and appoint officers. They can also approve opening a bank account. All of this must be recorded in the minutes.

Step 8: Create the corporate records

Tax-exempt corporations need to have records of nonprofit corporations. They must meet the IRS requirements to maintain their tax-exempt status.

The corporate records can be kept in a binder, or you can have digital copies available online. The records include minutes of board meetings, incorporation documents, and records from the annual general meeting.

Step 9: Get your tax ID number

The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the federal tax ID number. It is required to verify the identity of your corporation, which can be used to open a bank account or hire employees. Open an account at the Florida Department of Revenue to get your Florida tax ID number.

Step 10: Apply to all licenses and permits

Florida’s majority of counties require that you have a business license, also known as a tax receipt. Other local permits, state or federal licenses and permits may also be required.

Step 11: Apply for tax-exempt status, and register as a charity

Federal 501(c(3) tax-exempt status is available to educational, charitable, and religious organizations. The IRS Tax Exempt Status page has all the information you need. To find out the Florida taxes that you will have to pay, you will need to register with Florida Department of Revenue.

Step 12: Get insurance for your non-profit

Unemployment insurance is required if you have employees. You may need additional insurances depending on what type of nonprofit you run. To ensure that your nonprofit is covered, you should consult an insurance agent.

Step 13: Open a Bank Account

Your operations will determine the type of account that you need. You should shop around to find a bank that offers the account you need at a reasonable price. Your board of directors must decide who can sign on behalf of the corporation before you open an account. They also need to determine how many signatures are necessary.

Wrapping Up

Be sure to check these reference links on how to form a nonprofit in Florida.

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