How Can a Nonprofit Change Its Name?

By Joe Runge, Esq.

How Can a Nonprofit Change Its Name?

By Joe Runge, Esq.

If you've decided your nonprofit needs a name change, you may be concerned about how to notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or how the process works. But you have no need to worry—with a little guidance, you can change your nonprofit's name in two easy but important steps.

1. Know Your Nonprofit and Take Action

First you need to know what kind of nonprofit you have.

  • If it's incorporated, you'll need a copy of the modified articles of incorporation or organization.
  • If it's a trust, you'll need a copy of the amended trust instrument signed by the appropriate trustee.
  • If it's a government entity, you'll need written authorization from the appropriate governmental official.
  • If it's a charitable association, you'll need a copy of the amended organizing document signed by an officer of the organization or other authorized person.

The nature of the entity matters because the nonprofit must take formal legal action to change its name before the IRS will recognize the name change. There is no universal form for a nonprofit name change or template for a board resolution to change a nonprofit's name. Each nonprofit entity must vote, authorize, or otherwise decide to change its name consistent with its own rules. Corporations must allow a shareholder vote. Trusts must be authorized by trustees.

So whatever type of nonprofit you have, be sure the action you take to change its name is in the form of a written instrument or authorized record.

2. File the Appropriate Paperwork

Once your nonprofit has acted to change its name in accordance with its own internal rules, most of the work is behind you. Now's the time to file with the IRS.

You'll need the prior and new names of your nonprofit as well as your employer identification number (EIN). Submit those to the IRS—along with your nonprofit's internal action documentation and the appropriate 990 form signed by an authorized officer of the nonprofit—through e-file, fax, or mail. If your forms are complete and correct, your name change should be official.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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