Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in North Carolina

Here are the steps to form a nonprofit corporation in North Carolina. 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 55A of the North Carolina General Statutes (abbreviated here as "N.C. Gen. Stat."), and with the North Carolina Secretary of State's Corporations Division. The division has a helpful publication: Incorporating Your Non-Profit in North Carolina, which you can download by scrolling to the section headed "Guidelines to Incorporating" and selecting the "Nonprofit Corporation".

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).
  • The name must contain either " corporation," "incorporated," "company," "limited," or their abbreviations. Search for a Corporation by Name to determine name availability.

2. Recruit and/or appoint directors

  • You must have at least one director for your nonprofit corporation.
  • Directors do not have to reside within the state of North Carolina, nor to they have to be of a certain age.

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
  • You must file your articles of incorporation with the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State Corporations Division by mail or in-person delivery.
  • The filing fee is $60.
  • Click here for a sample articles of incorporation.
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 Department 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.

4. Get your Employer Identification Number

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

a. Federal
  • Request an Employer Identification Number ("EIN") from the IRS. This can be done via an online application.
  • The IRS details all of the necessary steps to complete, including verifying work eligibility and withholding allowances certificates, in Hiring Employees.
b. State

5. Register with state offices

a. N.C. Department of the Secretary of State Solicitation Licensing Section
  • However, if you receive less than $25,000/year in contributions, and you do not pay officers, directors, incorporators, fundraisers, or lawyers for their services, you need not apply for the license. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 131F-3 for more information.
  • The license must be renewed annually.
b. Department of Revenue

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


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