The Process of a Nonprofit Incorporation in Pennsylvania

by Elizabeth Rayne
You must file articles of incorporation to form a Pennsylvania nonprofit.

You must file articles of incorporation to form a Pennsylvania nonprofit.

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Knowing the process for incorporating a non-profit can help incorporators get an organization off the ground without time consuming delays. Paying close attention to the rules will ensure that an organization can promote its mission and solicit donations. In Pennsylvania, certain formalities and age requirements must be observed as well as documents drafted and filed, including articles of incorporation, with Pennsylvania's Department of State.

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Name Availability

In order to form a nonprofit in Pennsylvania, you must select an available business name. You may not use a name that is already in use by another registered business in the state. You may search for available names by calling the Pennsylvania Department of State's Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations, submitting a written request or utilizing the online database. Once you decide on an available name, you may reserve the name with the Bureau to ensure no one else takes the name before you submit your nonprofit formation paperwork.

Board of Directors

Pennsylvania law requires all nonprofit organizations to have a board of directors, composed of at least one director who is over 18 years old. The directors are not required to live in Pennsylvania. The board of directors is generally responsible for the overall management of the nonprofit and ensure the nonprofit is on track with its mission.

Articles of Incorporation

In order to officially form your nonprofit in the state of Pennsylvania, you must file articles of incorporation with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. The Bureau's website includes a fill-in form for new nonprofits to use. In your articles, you must include the name of the nonprofit, its purpose, names and addresses of the incorporators, and a statement that the organization was not created for the purpose of generating profit. Additionally, you must state that the nonprofit complies with the provisions of the Nonprofit Corporation Law of 1988. The form must be signed by the incorporators and submitted to the state with the appropriate fee. Additionally, new nonprofits must advertise in two newspapers, including one legal publication, stating that you are incorporating a nonprofit organization.

Start-Up Formalities

After the articles of incorporation are filed, Pennsylvania nonprofits must hold an initial organization meeting. The meeting should be held by the board of directors or, if there are no directors, the incorporators. At this time, the nonprofit will draft its bylaws, which set the internal rules for how the nonprofit will run. For example, bylaws may describe how often the board meets or the procedure for adding new members.

Fundraising and Employment

If your nonprofit plans to solicit more than $25,000 in donations, you must file a Charitable Organization Registration Statement with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. Your application must include a copy of the nonprofit's IRS 990 Return and financial statements for the most recent fiscal year. Additionally, if you hire employees for your nonprofit, you must register with both the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the Commonwealth Workforce Development System.