Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in Ohio

Here are the steps to form a nonprofit corporation in Ohio. You should read this page in conjunction with the general section on forming a nonprofit corporation, which has additional steps listed that are applicable to all states. You should also familiarize yourself with:

Chapter 1702 of the Ohio Revised Code (abbreviated here as "Ohio Rev. Code"), The Ohio Secretary of State's Business Services, and The Legal Information for Nonprofit Corporations created by the Ohio State Bar Foundation and the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

1. Choose a business name and check for availability

  • Your nonprofit corporation's name may not be the same as, or deceptively similar to, other corporate names on file with the Secretary of State (limited exceptions apply).

2. Recruit and/or appoint directors

  • You must have at least three directors for your nonprofit corporation.
  • Directors do not have to reside within Ohio, nor do they have to be of a certain age.
  • The Ohio Attorney General has a Guide for Board Members which explains the duties and responsibilities that directors owe to a nonprofit organization.

3. Incorporate your Nonprofit Organization

You should read the general section on forming a nonprofit corporation in tandem with the steps outlined here.

a. Prepare and file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State

  • The filing fee is $125.
b. Create the bylaws
  • There are no set criteria for the content of bylaws, but they typically set forth internal rules and procedures.
  • You are not required to file bylaws with the Secretary of State, but you must keep a copy at the nonprofit corporation's principal place of business.
c. Hold an organizational meeting
d. Create a Records Book
  • You will need a records book to store important documents concerning your nonprofit corporation. See Ohio Rev. Code § 1702-15 for specific information about record-keeping requirements under Ohio law.

4. Get your Employer Identification Number

Whenever you hire an employee in Ohio, you must inform both the IRS and the state of Ohio.

a. Federal
  • Request an Employer Identification Number ("EIN") from the IRS. This can be done via an online application.
b. State

5. Register with state offices

a. Ohio Attorney General
  • The filing fee depends on the nonprofit corporation's estimated contributions for the coming year.
  • The fee is waived for nonprofit corporations with estimates less than $25,000. The filing fee is $50 those with estimates between $25,000 and $100,000.
b. Department of Revenue
  • You must register for state business taxes. The Ohio Business Gateway has information on your nonprofit corporation's tax responsibilities.

6. Apply for tax exemptions

Once you've incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, you can start applying for tax exemptions.

a. Federal
  • The IRS lists a series of questions to help you determine whether your organization is eligible for federal tax exemption.
b. State
c. Local


Subject Area: