Creating a Georgia non-profit organization involves paperwork, but is not difficult. A business has to be incorporated and provide charitable or community services as its primary purpose to qualify as a non-profit organization. The process in Georgia includes filing for tax exempt status for both federal and state taxes. While it is possible for a registered non-profit corporation to convert to a for-profit corporation, it is not usually possible for a for profit corporation to obtain non-profit status.
Decide on a name for your non-profit corporation. Go to the Georgia Secretary of State website (see Resources) and click on the link to search corporations. Make certain the name you plan on using is not already taken. Names similar to existing Georgia corporations will be rejected -- for example, Boyz Foundation would be considered too close in name to Boys Foundation. Be aware that the following words in a corporation name may require a letter of approval from a federal agency. These words include insurance, assurance, surety, bank, credit union, trust, college, university. Certain other professional terms may have to be approved by the professional licensing board.
Reserve a name. Click on the "corporations" tab at the top and the name reservation link. Type in the name you have chosen. You will be asked to pay $25 by credit card, which is non-refundable if the name you choose is rejected. This process is optional. You do not have to reserve a name if you are certain your name is available and will not be rejected. The name reservation is valid for one month.
Apply for 501(c)3 or other sections of the IRS if you wish to obtain Federal tax exempt status. Obtain a copy of IRS Publication 557 online or by calling the IRS at 1-877-829-5500. Read this publication prior to filing your Georgia corporation filing because certain information regarding this filing may have to be included in your articles of incorporation. If this procedure is not clear to you, consult an accountant or attorney.
File your non-profit Georgia corporation online, using the link provided. The application leads you through the application process and helps you create your articles of incorporation and submit them to the Georgia Secretary of State.
Alternatively you can mail the application to:
Office of the Secretary of State
315 West Tower
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
Atlanta, GA 30334-1530
The articles of incorporation for a non-profit corporation do not need a statement listing the number of shares, but must include the following statement: "The corporation is organized pursuant to the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code." Include Form 3605 to obtain Georgia tax exempt status.
Publish the "notice of intent to incorporate" the next business day after filing the articles. Look online or contact The Clerk of Superior Court for advice on which newspapers qualify for publication of this notice. The notice must run for two consecutive weeks.
Apply for a Federal Identification Number from the IRS once your corporate filing has been approved.