You’ve got a cause you care about — now you just need the legal status that will help your organization raise money and work for that cause. Here are four steps to help you understand the process, but as always, call Wick Law for more details. 

  1. Formation — Create a legal entity for your nonprofit by filing the appropriate documents with the Ohio Secretary of State. In doing so, you will need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State which requires that you list the following:
    1. the purpose of the organization. This is important and you should seek legal counsel to ensure you describe your nonprofit’s purpose in a way that is acceptable to the IRS.
    2. A majority of incorporators must sign the Articles prior to the document being filed. 
    3. You must appoint a statutory agent.
    4. Once the Articles are filed, you will need to take the steps necessary to acquire an EIN or Employee Identification Number.
  1. Governance — Think about how you want to operate your nonprofit and create the governing documents. This document is referred to as the bylaws or code of regulations and it sets forth the manner in which the nonprofit will be operated. For example, this document should state the purpose of the nonprofit, the names of the directors, the duties of the directors, membership, the board, committees, how meetings will be held, permitted activities, and how to dissolve the nonprofit, if necessary. Call Wick Law to for guidance in drafting this important document.
  1. Apply to IRS — Apply to the IRS for tax exempt status. Typically, completing and filing Form 1023 is how most nonprofits apply, but certain types of nonprofits will use Form 1024. This is a big step and best undertaken with the help of a lawyer. Form 1023 and Form 1024 are long and detailed, and both ask for a lot of information about your organization, including history, finances, organizational structure, governance policies, operations, and activities. One of the most important components to gaining tax exempt status is correctly completing the Narrative Description of the nonprofit’s activities.
  1. Maintenance — Maintaining your tax-exempt status is every bit as important to getting it in the first place. To maintain your tax-exempt status, you need to file annual returns, understand employment taxes, public disclosure requirements, and other ongoing compliance issues.

Wick Law, LLC is a small business firm, representing owners, investors, and entrepreneurs in all aspects of commercial, corporate, business law, business succession, contracts and negotiations, and business litigation. For more information: Contact Wick Law Offices, LLC at 614-572-6366, visit or email Melissa Wick at Wick Law Offices, LLC is located in Columbus, Ohio