How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan (2024 Guide)

Steve Bennett
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Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan

If you would like to form a corporation in Michigan, you should also consider starting a nonprofit corporation since it plays a crucial role in our society, addressing a wide range of community needs and positively impacting countless lives. Starting a nonprofit corporation in Michigan can be rewarding, but it requires careful planning, dedication, and a thorough understanding of the various legal and financial requirements.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through Starting a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan, from initial planning to ongoing compliance, so that you can make a meaningful difference in your community.

If you want to know more about nonprofit corporations, you may read the whole article until the end, which the Webinarcare Editorial Team had thorough research. Before starting a nonprofit corporation in Michigan, you must cross-check all the factors and be guided by the steps.

What is a Nonprofit Corporation?

A nonprofit corporation is a legal entity formed under a given state’s specific laws and regulations in the United States. It is created to serve a public or mutual benefit rather than generating profits for its owners or shareholders. Nonprofit corporations typically operate in education, healthcare, social services, arts and culture, and environmental conservation.

In a nonprofit corporation, any surplus income the organization generates is reinvested into its programs and services rather than distributed to shareholders or members. This allows nonprofits to focus on fulfilling their mission and addressing community needs without the pressure to maximize profits.

An example of a nonprofit corporation in Michigan is Gleaners Community Food Bank – Fights hunger by providing millions of pounds of donated and purchased food to people in need..

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Steps on How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan

To start a nonprofit corporation in Michigan, you must follow the below steps that, include research and planning, choosing a corporate name, appointing directors, filing for Articles of Incorporation, creating corporate bylaws, holding the initial board of directors, issuing stock, obtaining required licenses and permits, registering with state tax agencies, Annual reporting and ongoing compliance. All these steps are basic ones. It can be changed depending on the type of corporation you form and the nature of your business.

Step 1: Research and Planning

Before starting your nonprofit corporation in Michigan, you must research and plan. This stage is critical to the success of your nonprofit, as it will help you refine your mission, identify potential supporters, and avoid pitfalls. By conducting thorough research and developing a well-informed plan, you can establish a nonprofit corporation that makes a real difference in the lives of those you serve.

Step 2: Choose a Name for the Nonprofit

Once you have a clear vision for your Michigan nonprofit corporation, it’s time to choose a name. Your organization’s name should be unique, memorable, and reflective of your mission and purpose. Follow these steps to choose and register your nonprofit’s name in Michigan:

Consider the Mission and Purpose when Choosing the Name

Your nonprofit’s name should be closely tied to its mission and purpose, making it clear to potential supporters what your organization is about. Choose a name that is meaningful and easy to remember, as this will help with marketing and fundraising efforts.

Check for Name Availability with the Michigan Secretary of State

Before registering your nonprofit’s name, you must ensure another organization still needs to use it in Michigan. You can do this by checking the Michigan Secretary of State ‘s online database or contacting their office directly.

Register the Name

Depending on your Michigan ‘s requirements, you may need to register your nonprofit’s name with the Secretary of State. This typically involves completing a name reservation of 6 months or registration form and paying an online reservation fee of Not available, and mail reservation fee of $10. Be sure to follow your state’s specific guidelines and procedures for name registration.

To check the availability of your desired corporate name, you can search the Michigan Secretary of State’s business name database and Michigan Business Name Search.

If your nonprofit corporation plans to operate under a name other than its legal name, you may also need to register a fictitious or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

The DBA filing can be done by three methods, online, by mail, and in person filing., which costs around $25 for LLCs and $10 for LPs. In addition, the DBA’s validity in Michigan is five years, which you can file in Michigan Secretary of State.

You can check out How to File a DBA in Michigan for clearer understanding.

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Step 3: Hire a Resident Agent

Hiring a Resident Agent is essential in starting a nonprofit corporation. Resident Agent is a person or company responsible for receiving important legal documents, tax notices, and other correspondence for your nonprofit corporation. They ensure that your nonprofit corporation remains compliant with state regulations and requirements. There are Michigan Resident Agent Services to check in forming Michigan Nonprofit Corporation.

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Step 4: Establish Governance and Bylaws

With your nonprofit’s name in place, it’s time to establish your organization’s governance structure and create bylaws. These important documents will outline how your nonprofit will be run, including the roles and responsibilities of board members, the decision-making process, and the procedures for managing finances and record-keeping.

  • Choose the Initial Board of Directors: Your nonprofit’s board of directors will guide your organization’s activities and ensure its long-term success. Choose individuals passionate about your mission, bring diverse skills and expertise to the table, and are willing to commit the time and effort needed to fulfill their responsibilities as board members. In Michigan, you need to have at least Three directors for you to operate a nonprofit corporation.
  • Create Bylaws: Your bylaws are the governing document for your nonprofit, outlining the roles and responsibilities of board members, the decision-making process, and the procedures for managing finances and record-keeping. Be sure to cover board meetings, voting, committees, officer positions, conflicts of interest, and amendment procedures. Your bylaws should be tailored to your organization’s needs and requirements and developed in consultation with an attorney experienced in nonprofit law.
  • Hold the First Board Meeting: Once your bylaws have been drafted, hold your first board meeting to review and approve them. This meeting should also include the election of officers, such as the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Be sure to document the meeting’s discussions and decisions in meeting minutes, as these records will be important for maintaining your nonprofit’s legal compliance.

Step 5: Incorporate the Nonprofit

The next step in starting your Michigan nonprofit corporation is to formally incorporate your organization with the Michigan Secretary of State. Incorporation establishes your nonprofit as a separate legal entity and provides limited liability protection for its board members and officers. To incorporate your nonprofit, follow these steps:

Prepare the Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation is the legal document formally establishing your nonprofit corporation. This document should include your organization’s name, purpose, Resident Agent, and principal office address. Be sure to follow your state’s specific requirements for the content and format of the Articles of Incorporation.

File the Articles of Incorporation

Once your Articles of Incorporation is complete, please submit them to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, along with any required filing fees. The filing process may vary depending on your state, but it typically involves mailing or submitting the documents online. Keep a copy of the filed Articles of Incorporation for your records.

Filing Articles of Incorporation in Michigan may be done with three ways, online, by mail and in-person. The Articles of Incorporation fee may vary from different state. However, in Michigan, it costs $60 for filing online, in person, and by mail.

  • Online Filing: Get the online form from Secretary of State, fill it up, and submit. Don’t refresh the page during the process. It will erase everything.
  • Offline filing: Send the form by mail to Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau — Corporations Division, P.O. Box 30054, Lansing, MI 48909. Drop it off in person at 2501 Woodlake Circle, Okemos, MI

Step 6: Apply for State and Federal Tax Exemptions

Your organization may be eligible for state and federal tax exemptions as a nonprofit corporation. Obtaining tax-exempt status can save your nonprofit money and make it more attractive to potential donors. To apply for tax exemptions, follow these steps:

Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN in Michigan is a unique number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to your organization. You’ll need this number to apply for tax-exempt status and open a bank account for your nonprofit. You can obtain an EIN by completing the online application on the IRS website or submitting Form SS-4 by mail or fax.

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Apply for Federal Tax-Exempt Status (501(c)(3))

To apply for federal tax-exempt status, you’ll need to complete and submit Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ, depending on the size and complexity of your organization. This application requires detailed information about your nonprofit’s finances, governance, and programs. Be prepared to provide supporting documentation, including your bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and financial projections. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee, which varies depending on the size of your organization and the form you submit.

Apply for Michigan Tax-Exempt Status

In addition to federal tax-exempt status, your nonprofit may be eligible for state tax exemptions. The process for applying for state tax-exempt status varies by state, so research your specific state’s requirements and procedures. This may involve submitting additional forms, documentation, and fees to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Step 7: Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Depending on your nonprofit’s activities and location, you may need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate legally—research local, state, and federal requirements and apply for any necessary licenses and permits. Be sure to maintain compliance by renewing licenses and permits as needed and staying up-to-date on any regulation changes.

Step 8: Develop a Fundraising Plan and Strategy

Fundraising is critical to the success of your Michigan nonprofit corporation, providing the financial resources needed to carry out your mission and programs. Develop a comprehensive fundraising plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and timelines for raising funds. This plan should include various funding sources, such as grants, donations, and special events. Create marketing materials and strategies to promote your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts and engage potential supporters.

Step 9: Open a Bank Account for the Nonprofit

With your legal and financial foundations in place, it’s time to open a bank account for your nonprofit corporation. Choose a bank that offers services tailored to nonprofits and provides the features and support your organization needs. To open an account, you’ll typically need to provide your EIN, Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, and a resolution authorizing the account opening. Establish proper financial controls and procedures to ensure responsible management of the organization’s funds.

You can check out the Michigan Best Banks to know which bank will suit your nonprofit corporation.

Step 10: Establish Record-Keeping Systems

Effective record-keeping and reporting are essential for maintaining your nonprofit’s legal and financial compliance and demonstrating transparency and accountability to your supporters. Set up systems for tracking financial transactions, maintaining records of your organization’s activities, and reporting to the IRS, state, and other relevant agencies. Stay up-to-date on reporting requirements and deadlines to ensure your nonprofit remains in good standing. Hiring a CPA in Michigan for this reporting system is best.

Step 11: Launch and Promote the Nonprofit

With your Michigan nonprofit corporation officially established and your financial and legal foundations in place, it’s time to launch your organization and begin making a difference in your community. Develop a marketing plan to promote your nonprofit’s mission and services, including creating a website, social media presence, and other marketing materials. Network with other nonprofits, community organizations, and stakeholders to build partnerships and collaborations to strengthen your organization’s impact.

Step 12: Ongoing Compliance and Management

Starting a nonprofit corporation is just the beginning – maintaining your organization’s legal and financial compliance is an ongoing responsibility. Stay informed about changes in nonprofit laws and regulations, file required Annual Reports and financial statements, and regularly review and update your bylaws, policies, and procedures as needed. Foster positive relationships with board members, volunteers, and supporters to ensure your nonprofit’s continued success.

Cost of Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan

In forming a nonprofit corporation in Michigan, the filing and Annual fees must be paid. Without it, your nonprofit corporation won’t operate. In Michigan, the nonprofit costs $60 for filing online, in person, and by mail, and should file an Annual Report. You should ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your Michigan nonprofit corporation will run successfully and smoothly.

Is Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in Michigan Worth It?

Forming a nonprofit corporation in Michigan can be worth it if you are dedicated to a specific cause and prepared to meet the challenges and responsibilities of running a nonprofit organization. It is essential to carefully consider your goals and resources and consult with a Business Attorney in Michigan or other professionals experienced in nonprofit formation and management to ensure that you are making the best decision for your situation.


What is a non-profit corporation in Michigan?
A non-profit corporation in Michigan is an organization operated for a public or charitable purpose, that is tax-exempt under IRS laws.
How do I start a non-profit corporation in Michigan?
To start a non-profit corporation in Michigan, you need to follow the steps to create a non-profit corporation in compliance with Michigan state law.
What are the advantages of incorporating a non-profit in Michigan?
Incorporating a non-profit in Michigan will provide your organization credibility with customers, avoid personal liability, and potential tax advantages.
Do I need to have a lawyer to create a non-profit corporation in Michigan?
It is not required to have a lawyer when incorporating a non-profit corporation in Michigan, but you may consider hiring one to assist with understanding compliance with tax laws, etc.
Can I operate a non-profit business if I don’t file to become a non-profit corporation in Michigan?
You can operate a non-profit business in Michigan but if exceeding the threshold, you will have to file under Michigan state laws and apply for 501(c) tax-exempt status.
What is needed to form a Michigan non-profit?
To form a Michigan non-profit, you must file articles of incorporation with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
Does Michigan require bylaws to incorporate a non-profit?
Yes, you are required to write bylaws to incorporate your non-profit in Michigan.
Is there a filing fee to incorporate a non-profit in Michigan?
Yes, the Michigan filing fee to incorporate a non-profit is $25 in person.
How long should I expect to wait to receive approval from MI for my application to start a non-profit?
Under normal circumstances, you can expect it to take several weeks for MI approval of your application to start a non-profit corporation in Michigan.
How will I know if my non-profit has been registered in Michigan?
You will receive documentation from the Michigan state of non-profit registration.
What happens after I incorporate my non-profit corporation in Michigan?
After you incorporate, you must apply for tax-exempt status and register for taxation with MI Department of Treasury to file exemption of Michigan sales and use taxes.
How do Articles of Incorporation differ in Michigan from other states?
The Articles of Incorporation in Michigan are different from the incorporation requirements in other states because they require a specific set of language for an organization’s legal existence.
What types of organizations can be non-profit corporations in Michigan?
Organizations that benefit communities, sports, wellness, arts & culture, animals and etc. can be registered as non-profit corporations in Michigan.
How many board members I should elect for a Michigan non-profit?
For a Michigan non-profit corporation, a minimum of one incorporator is required and a minimum of four directors required while continued effective operation of an organization should have at least three board members.
Can a director of a Michigan non-profit have a conflict of interest?
Michigan laws allows conflicts of interests to exist between the roles of Directors and Officers with his or outside business and relationships if sufficiently detail Information must disclose accordingly.
I’m not sure if my organization qualifies for tax-exempt status in Michigan—is there someone who could review the articles of incorporation and provide advice?
Answer:Yes, there are various organizations that can examine your organization’s articles of incorporation to see if it qualifies for tax-exemption in either unique facts exemption or using the IRS 501(c) tax exemption.
Is annual visitor gratuity by an alternative coding exempt for the gross receipts tax for non-profit conference grounds in Michigan?
No, the MI Single Business Tax exemption does not count annual visitor gratuity as an exclusion from the calculations for the gross receipts tax for non-profit conference grounds in Michigan.
What elements are required under Michigan law for a non-profit corporation’s articles of incorporation?
A Michigan non-profit lead with most crucial requirements; the corporation must have a name that is distinguishable from other businesses.
Are there specific laws that govern the management of a Michigan non-profit?
Yes, various laws govern the management of non-profit corporations in Michigan with an elaborated & executive required layer of documentation based on compliance requirements.
Can a Michigan non-profit pay its employees?
Yes, a Michigan non-profit corporation can pay its employees, but defined registration with federal and state tax laws & regulation must be maintained.
Must Michigan non-profits have a registered agent?
Yes, Michigan laws necessitate non-profit corporations have a registered agent in Michigan for any compliance requirements or legal notices received on its doorstep
How should my Michigan non-profit take up donations?
Depending on the type of donation, fundraising activities with detail organizing plan under compliance with Michigan regulations required.
What impact does drafting bylaws for a Michigan non-profit corporation have on the incorporation process?
Drafting bylaws functions as a guidebook on how your corporation’s run. It helps the Michigan non-profit make critical decisions affecting the successful implementation of the corporation’s goal mission.
How long does Michigan state’s approval process for non-profit corporation grants take?
The Michigan state’s approval process for non-profit corporation grants takes about a few weeks to mere months as perfecting the correct filing is critically crucial in its state’s approval procedure.
Can I handle my administration personally after filing for incorporation process in Michigan?
If your Michigan non-profit corporation generates no income, it doesn’t necessarily get registered until the internal activities become within minimal compliance or all things got spend.
How do Michigan state’s requirements compare with federal non-profit regulations under an ABS meaning?
ABS meaning refers to that if the funder does any unrelated possible trade, an application under IRS is not needed. Both require licenses to qualify for exemptions, growth elements and often expire or file additional one-time transactions agreements.
Does Michigan reimburse mileage or other expenses for employees, such as when attending out-of-town conferences?
MI state, nor its clients, administer already selected additional compensation requirements for non-profit as this incurs additional expenses the non-profit corporation must manage.
How to conduct board elections for a Michigan non-profit?
The voting architecture for elections is outlined play-by-play with typifying demographic requirements and executive board input in detailed record, outlining principles of governing operations.
Can an NPO be Based in Michigan as a physical reality and still function internationally?
Yes, Michigan based non-profit Corporations can still function internationally after completing an IRS 501(c)(3) foreign planning disclosure unrelated business income which receives scrutiny with Independent Verification and criteria judge if all compliance critically followed consequently.
Are MI single business taxes filed similarly by all Michigan creating non-profit incorporated organizations?
Filing for MI single business taxes aren’t handled the same by all MI creating non-profit incorporated organizations since there are four classes of income taxation ranging from foreign corporation lower receiving endorsements for high-tier revenue participating.

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Why You Should Start Michigan Nonprofit

One of the main benefits of starting a nonprofit in Michigan is the opportunity to address a specific need or issue that you are passionate about. With so many different causes and areas of concern, there is bound to be a cause that resonates with you and where you can make a real impact. By starting a nonprofit, you can create a platform to advocate for change, raise awareness, and work towards solutions in a systematic and sustainable way.

Additionally, starting a nonprofit allows you to create a sense of community and belonging among like-minded individuals who share your values and goals. By bringing people together around a common cause, you can amplify your impact, leverage resources, and create a network of support that can help sustain your organization for the long term.

Moreover, starting a nonprofit can provide you with the opportunity to develop valuable skills and experience that can benefit you professionally and personally. Whether it’s fundraising, event planning, volunteer management, or communication and marketing, running a nonprofit will challenge you to grow and learn in ways that can translate into other areas of your life.

Furthermore, starting a nonprofit in Michigan can help you give back to your local community and make a real difference in the lives of others. Whether you are addressing a social issue, supporting underserved populations, or advocating for policy change, your nonprofit can be a powerful force for good that can change lives and create a more equitable society for all.

Starting a nonprofit in Michigan can also provide you with a sense of fulfillment and purpose that comes from knowing that you are making a positive impact on the world around you. Knowing that your efforts are helping to make the world a better place can be incredibly motivating and satisfying, fueling your passion and commitment to your cause.

In conclusion, starting a nonprofit in Michigan is a powerful way to make a difference, connect with like-minded individuals, develop valuable skills, give back to your community, and find fulfillment and purpose in your life. If you are passionate about a cause and want to make a positive impact, starting a nonprofit may be the perfect vehicle for you to bring about the change you want to see in the world.


Starting a nonprofit corporation is a rewarding and challenging endeavor that requires careful planning, dedication, and a thorough understanding of the various legal and financial requirements. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating a nonprofit that makes a meaningful difference in your community. As you embark on this journey, remember to stay focused on your mission and your organization’s impact on the lives of those you serve. Never underestimate the power of a passionate, committed team working together to improve the world.

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