How Do I Start A Nonprofit In Washington State?

You have a great idea to support your community and you are ready to take action! Setting up a nonprofit organization is a common next step. But, running a nonprofit is different than running a typical for profit entity and its a good idea to think through what this means before you get started. The Washington State Secretary of State’s office has a helpful guide that walks through what it means to be a nonprofit organization and the decisions you should consider before moving forward.

If you’ve done all your planning and you’re ready to get started, this quick list will give you an idea of what you’ll be doing next. The State and Federal links below provide a lot of information about what is required and your CPA or attorney can guide you through the process. Keep in mind that this is just a quick list. Every organization is different and each of these steps will require work and planning that is dependent on your unique structure.

  • Name initial board directors/officers: Minimum of two officers and four titles: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. President and Secretary must be different people
  • Appoint a registered agent: can be a board member if they have a street address in Washington
  • Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation
  • File initial state report (you will receive instructions when formation is complete)
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS
  • Establish bank accounts and accounting system (approved by board)
  • Create initial By-laws and Conflict of Interest Policy (approved by board)
  • Register with Secretary of State Charitable Solicitations (so you can legally ask for donations)
  • Register with the Department of Revenue
  • If you have employees determine how you will process payroll and register with the appropriate state agencies
  • Apply for IRS tax exempt status (Form 1023, 1023-EZ, or 1024)