Our Step By Step Guide

How to form a nonprofit corporation in New Hampshire

Forming a nonprofit corporation provides liability protection for any type of business, and should be among the first steps you take as a new business owner. Starting a nonprofit corporation can help you protect your personal assets while adding legitimacy to your company. Follow our step by step guide or let us handle the paperwork on your behalf, ensuring your business is filed quickly and accurately.

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Why start your business in New Hampshire?

The nonprofit corporation sector is vital to the communities of New Hampshire. In 2019, it was reported that the economic impact of the nonprofit sector in New Hampshire is $11 billion in revenue. Nonprofits throughout New Hampshire may deliver services to those in need, employ unique strategies, leverage volunteer power, and mobilize grassroots relationships. Setting up a New Hampshire nonprofit corporation may be the next, best step for your business. Let's look at the steps necessary to get started.

Two Ways to Register Your Business

MyCorporation® can help you file all of the necessary documents to form your nonprofit corporation in New Hampshire.

File and submit the formation paperwork yourself

Our free guide provides you with all of the information you'll need to form your nonprofit corporation in New Hampshire. Bookmark this page as a reference so you can return easily as you complete each step of the process.

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Are you looking for another entity type? We offer several other guides for the state of New Hampshire.

A nonprofit corporation is a business formed with the purpose of furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a specific point of view. Rather than earning a profit, a nonprofit corporation reinvests its revenue to achieve its objective instead of distributing that income to its shareholders.

Nonprofit corporations, at their core, are a variation of a traditional C corporation formed to provide public benefit. While much of the structure and set-up process is similar between the two entities, setting up a nonprofit properly has a few additional caveats to be aware of including applying for federal and state tax exemptions.

Nonprofits are most popularly known for being tax exempt. This means they do not pay income tax on the money they receive on their income. If your business plans to operate only for scientific, research, educational, religious, or charitable reasons, a nonprofit would be your best entity fit.

The Benefits of a Non Profit Corporation

  • Protect your Personal Assets
    Starting a nonprofit corporation designates your business as a separate legal entity, preventing you from being personally responsible for any debts accrued by your business.
  • Build Credibility
    Establishing a professional identity for your nonprofit demonstrates the charitable intentions of your business to the community, providing additional credibility and trust.
  • Tax Advantages
    Non profit corporation owners can apply for tax exemption under certain circumstances, allowing more money to go towards the charitable cause your business was created for.

Compare the main entity types below

Entity Type
Liability
Taxation
Maintenance
Limited Liability Company Combines limited liability protection with a pass-through tax structure. IRS rules allow LLCs to choose between being taxed as partnership or corporation. The easiest entity to maintain with the least amount of formal annual requirements.
Corporation Owners / shareholders have limited personal liability for business related debts. Separate taxable entity, corporate profits among owners and corporation. Meetings are required to maintain corporate status. Stock may be sold to raise capital.
Non-Profit Corporation A corporation formed for a charitable, educational, religious, literary, or scientific purpose. Contributions to charitable corporation are tax deductible. Can get tax exempt status with the IRS. Annual reports, minutes, meetings are required to maintain nonprofit / tax exempt status.
Tip: Try our free entity choice tool. Answer a few simple multiple choice questions about your business, and our tool can recommend the entity type that best fits the needs of your business.

Now that you have decided to start a nonprofit, you need to determine the charitable mission and purpose for the business. To comply with IRS regulations, it's important that your business is organized for an exempt purpose. Your business may not engage in political activities and must not overcompensate its members.

The next step is to decide on a name for your business. For nonprofits, it's important that you choose a name that clearly represents the mission of your organization. Be sure that the name you choose is easy to pronounce and memorable. Once you've decided on a name for your business, you should conduct a quick trademark search. This can help you find out if the name you want has already been taken and reduce the possibility of rejection. It's also best come up with one or two alternatives, in case the name you want to register is not available.

There are a few rules that New Hampshire Corporations must follow in order to register a name.

  1. The name you choose must be unique and not "confusingly similar" to the name of any other New Hampshire business. This is to prevent fraud or misrepresentation and is a common rule in all 50 states. You can find out whether a name is available in New Hampshire by searching the New Hampshire QuickStart search tool for possible conflicts, but be sure to check variations or alternate spellings as well, otherwise your filing may be rejected. In New Hampshire, you may also conduct an advanced name search with the NHQS tool. This allows you to search for business names that start with specific words, are an exact match, contain key words, or have all of the words in your startup's name. You can also use our business name search service, and we will do a more thorough search on your behalf and report back our findings. MyCorporation also include a business search for free when we complete your LLC filings for you.
  2. Your business name must include the words "Corporation" or its abbreviations "Corp." or "Inc."
  3. In New Hampshire, you may also conduct an advanced name search with the NHQS tool Opens in a new window. This allows you to search for business names that start with specific words, are an exact match, contain key words, or have all of the words in your startup’s name.
Tip: A business name check is included with every one of our business formation packages. We check with the state to determine the availability of your business name automatically. You can also conduct a nationwide business name search here.

Most states require that you designate a registered agent for your business, and New Hampshire is no exception. A registered agent acts as the state’s means to communicate with a business and is responsible for receiving legal and official documents related to the business.

In the state of New Hampshire, it is required that all business entities filed in the state maintain a registered agent. This registered agent may be anyone you wish, as long as they have a physical address and reside in New Hampshire. A P.O. Box is not accepted as a registered agent address. A member of the nonprofit corporation can act as the registered agent if desired, or you may also use a third-party registered agent service like MyCorporation.

Why designate a third party to act as my registered agent?

Registered agent information is publicly available. This may cause privacy concerns for business owners who do not wish to list their personal contact information for everyone to see. It is also common for the registered agent to become a target of spam or robocalls since this private information is relatively easy to obtain. Registered agents are highly valued for their discretion. For example, if you did not have a registered agent and your business was served with lawsuit paperwork the documents would be delivered directly to your business address. This could be incredibly embarrassing for the business owner, especially if this happened in front of customers. An RA will accept the documents privately to ensure additional privacy, organize the materials, and then deliver them to the business owner. This is why many business owners opt for a third-party registered agent service like MyCorporation to act as a registered agent on behalf of their business.

Tip: Our Deluxe and Premium formation packages include a full year of registered agent services for your business. We also offer standalone registered agent services which you can add to your business later.

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The state of New Hampshire requires you to file Articles of Agreement in order to create a nonprofit. This document includes basic information about the New Hampshire nonprofit corporation such as:

  1. Name of the corporation
  2. Object/purpose for which this corporation is established
  3. Provisions for establishing membership and participation in the corporation
  4. Provisions for disposition of the corporate assets in the event of dissolution
  5. New Hampshire principal address of the nonprofit corporation
  6. Amount of capital stock and/or number of shares or membership certificates
  7. Provision eliminating or limiting personal liability of a director or officer
  8. Signatures and post office address of each person(s) associating to form the corporation

A filing fee of $25 is also required when submitting the Articles of Agreement. Make check or money order payable to the State of New Hampshire.

Bylaws are the detailed set of rules agreed upon and adopted by the board of directors of the nonprofit. Think of these as an instruction manual to run the business. They include rules and procedures related to meetings you will hold, and notes on the ways you will elect officers and directors of the business. While bylaws are not required for nonprofit corporations in the state of New Hampshire, it is recommended that nonprofit corporations still maintain and keep a record handy.

If you are not sure how to create corporate bylaws, purchase MyCorporation’s customized Minutes and Bylaws package. Inside our package you will find internal documents required to fulfill your corporate formalities and properly operate your business after it has been incorporated.

The first board meeting for your business is often referred to as the organizational meeting of the board. During this meeting, the initial directors of the business will adopt the corporate bylaws, set the fiscal year, and appoint corporate officers.

This meeting and all future meetings of the board of directors must be recorded in corporate minutes. Minutes are documents that detail what was discussed and any decisions the business makes during meetings. They are kept with the corporate records.

Corporate minutes must be prepared for all New Hampshire nonprofit corporations. Falling behind on this critical task can cause your business to fall out of good standing, and even jeopardize its tax-exempt status. It is important to maintain a corporate minute book. Inside you may keep originals or copies of all the signed and approved minutes or Actions by Unanimous Consent from any special or annual meetings of the corporation's shareholders and directors.

An EIN (also referred to as a Federal Tax ID) is a nine-digit number that is issued by the IRS and used to uniquely identify your business for tax purposes. Think of it as a Social Security Number (SSN) for your business, except an EIN is less sensitive. Like an SSN, an EIN allows you to:

  • Open business checking, savings, or investment accounts
  • File taxes for the business
  • Complete payroll for employees if applicable
  • Obtain lines of credit and credit cards, and build credit for your business
  • Apply for applicable business licenses when required
  • File for tax exempt status

You will only need a few pieces of information to file, including your mailing address and legal business name. You can apply online Opens in a new tab with the IRS by downloading IRS Form SS-4 (PDF)(116 KB), or work alongside a third party organization like MyCorporation to complete an EIN application.

Your nonprofit corporation is not automatically tax exempt. In order to become tax exempt, you will need to take certain steps to obtain this status. First, you will need to file for exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service using either Form 1023 (PDF)(866 KB) or Form 1024 (PDF)(360 KB), depending on the classification of your organization. In some cases, you may be eligible to file Form 1023-EZ Opens in a new window, a streamlined version of the application for recognition of tax exemption. You can avoid a $25 fee if you file for federal tax exemption before filing with the state.

Even if you have obtained federal exemption for your organization, you still need to submit an Exempt Application form (FTB 3500 Opens in a new tab) to the Franchise Tax Board to obtain state level exemption. Although most of California's laws dealing with tax exemption are like those found in the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining state exemption is a separate process from obtaining federal exemption.

You can learn more about the process directly from Publication 557 from the IRS (PDF) (2.1 MB).

Within 90 days of filing the Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State, a nonprofit corporation must also file an initial Statement of Information (Form SI-100) along with a $20 fee.

Your statement of information must include:
  • The name of the nonprofit and the California Secretary of State file number
  • The registered agent's name and address
  • The address of the principal office of the business
  • The mailing address of the business (if different from the principal office)
  • The names and addresses of the directors

Once completed, this statement is submitted by mail. In most cases, it is processed within five business days from its receipt.

A Statement of Information is filed every two years after that for the life of the business, calculated from your incorporation date. This ensures that the California Secretary of States maintains current information about all nonprofits operating within the state.

All businesses are required to file for a general business license (sometimes referred to as a business tax certificate) in the state of California. If you plan on operating your nonprofit in multiple cities, you will need to apply for a business license in each location. Additional permits may be required along with a general business license and are to be filed with the county or state. You can find out about the specific licenses applicable to your business by checking with the city offices where you will conduct business, or by using MyCorporation's business license compliance package. Our team of skilled professionals will identify the licenses required by your nonprofit and provide you with all the information you need to file.

nonprofit corporation Formation Packages

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BASICS
$99
  • Articles of
  • Name Availability Search
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STANDARD
$124
  • Articles of
  • Name Availability Search
  • Annual Report service
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DELUXE
$224
  • Articles of
  • Name Availability Search
  • Annual Report service
  • Registered Agent services
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Frequently asked questions

According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State, nonprofit corporation processing times run typically 2-3 business days if you file online. You may also file by mail which takes up to one to three weeks processing time. All orders are processed in the order they are received.

In order to keep your nonprofit in good standing, there are reoccurring requirements that must be met.

  • All nonprofits must file a Statement of Information with the Secretary of State every two years.
  • All nonprofits must hold an annual meeting of the directors logged in their corporate minutes.
  • All nonprofits (except schools, hospitals, and religious organizations) need to file the annual registration renewal fee report. The fee for the report may vary, so check in with the New Hampshire Secretary of State for further guidelines.

In order to form a corporation in New Hampshire, you will be required to pay various fees and taxes. The breakdown of the required fees is as follows:

  • Nonprofit corporation filing application fee - $25
  • Annual Report fee - $100 ($50 late fee penalty)
  • Nonprofit Articles of Amendment/Change of Agent/Office - $25
  • Registered agent service - $120 per year (optional)

In total, expect to set aside $150 to set up a nonprofit in New Hampshire.

According to the New Hampshire Secretary of State, foreign entities that wish to transact business in New Hampshire must first obtain a certificate of authority. The SoS provides links to these applications on its website and the filing fee is $100. Remember that when filing a certificate of authority, you must also include an original certificate of existence/good standing that is dated no more than 60 days prior to filing in New Hampshire.