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

Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Oregon

If you would like to form a corporation in Oregon, 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 Oregon 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 Oregon, 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 Oregon, 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 Oregon is Oregon Food Bank – A non-profit organization that collects and distributes food to those in need across the state..

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Steps on How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in Oregon

To start a nonprofit corporation in Oregon, 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 Oregon, 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 Oregon 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 Oregon:

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 Oregon Secretary of State

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

Register the Name

Depending on your Oregon ‘s requirements, you may need to register your nonprofit’s name with the Secretary of State. This typically involves completing a name reservation of 120 days or registration form and paying an online reservation fee of $100, and mail reservation fee of $100. 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 Oregon Secretary of State’s business name database and Oregon 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 $50. In addition, the DBA’s validity in Oregon is two years, which you can file in Oregon Secretary of State.

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

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Step 3: Hire a Registered Agent

Hiring a Registered Agent is essential in starting a nonprofit corporation. Registered 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 Oregon Registered Agent Services to check in forming Oregon 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 Oregon, 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 Oregon nonprofit corporation is to formally incorporate your organization with the Oregon 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, Registered 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 Oregon 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 Oregon may be done with two methods, online and by mail. The Articles of Incorporation fee may vary from different state. However, in Oregon, it costs $100 for online and by mail filing.

  • Online Filing: Create an account/Log in to the SOS site, get the online form, fill it, and submit online
  • Offline filing: Send the form by mail to Secretary of State, Corporation Division, 255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151, Salem, OR 97310

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 Oregon 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 Oregon 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 Oregon Department of Revenue.

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 Oregon 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 Oregon 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 Oregon for this reporting system is best.

Step 11: Launch and Promote the Nonprofit

With your Oregon 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 Oregon

In forming a nonprofit corporation in Oregon, the filing and Annual fees must be paid. Without it, your nonprofit corporation won’t operate. In Oregon, the nonprofit costs $100 for online and by mail filing, and should file an Annual Report. You should ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your Oregon nonprofit corporation will run successfully and smoothly.

Is Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in Oregon Worth It?

Forming a nonprofit corporation in Oregon 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 Oregon 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 Oregon?
A non-profit corporation is an organization that is formed for a specific purpose, such as promoting education, religion, or charitable causes, and does not distribute dividends to its members or shareholders.
How do I start a non-profit in Oregon?
To start a non-profit corporation in Oregon, you need to file articles of incorporation with the Oregon Secretary of State.
Do I need a lawyer to start a non-profit in Oregon?
No, you don’t need a lawyer to start a non-profit in Oregon, but it is recommended to consult with one to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws.
What are the benefits of starting a non-profit in Oregon?
The primary benefits of starting a non-profit in Oregon are tax exemptions, limited liability for directors and officers, and the ability to attract and retain staff and volunteers.
Can I receive a salary if I start a non-profit in Oregon?
Yes, you can receive a salary if you start a non-profit in Oregon, as long as it is in line with non-profit regulations and the organization’s bylaws.
Do I need to have a board of directors to start a non-profit in Oregon?
Yes, you need to have a board of directors to start a non-profit in Oregon, with at least three members who are not related by blood or marriage.
How long does it take to start a non-profit in Oregon?
It can take several weeks to several months to start a non-profit in Oregon, depending on several factors such as complexity of the organization’s structure and how complete the organization’s documentation is when filed.
How much does it cost to start a non-profit in Oregon?
The cost to start a non-profit in Oregon varies, but usually includes a $50 to $100 filing fee, along with other expenses associated with drafting bylaws and other documentation to establish the organization.
How do I get tax-exempt status for my non-profit in Oregon?
You need to file Form 1023 or 1023-EZ with the Internal Revenue Service to get tax-exempt status for your non-profit in Oregon.
What are the ongoing compliance requirements for a non-profit in Oregon?
Ongoing compliance requirements for a non-profit in Oregon include annual reporting to the Oregon Secretary of State, filing tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, and conducting regular board and member meetings.
How do I dissolve a non-profit in Oregon?
To dissolve a non-profit in Oregon, you need to file Articles of Termination with the Oregon Secretary of State and submit a final tax return to all relevant tax collections before the final days of operations.
Can non-profit employees receive unemployment benefits in Oregon?
Yes, non-profit employees are eligible for unemployment benefits in Oregon if they meet certain eligibility requirements.
Does a non-profit in Oregon need to register with the Oregon Attorney General?
Yes, a non-profit in Oregon may need to register with the Oregon Attorney General if they solicit and receive more than $25,000 in charitable contributions in a year.
What is the difference between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4) organization in Oregon?
A 501(c)(3) is a public charity that is tax-exempt and can receive tax-deductible contributions for giving its charitable missions, while a 501(c)(4)are membership organizations which engages in lobbying activity.
Can a non-profit in Oregon pursue political and lobbying activities?
Yes, a non-profit in Oregon can pursue certain types of lobbying activities, tax-exempt organizations need to review how much and where they are conducting lobbying to maintain legal operations.
Can a non-profit in Oregon receive grants from foundations and corporations?
Yes, a non-profit in Oregon can receive grants from foundations and corporations to support their programs and services.
Do non-profits in Oregon need insurance for their operations?
Yes, non-profits in Oregon should consider getting general liability, directors and officers insurance, and mission-based coverage which alighs with their practices to protect their operations further in dealing with an unexpected event.
How do I set up nonprofit banking for my non-profit organization in Oregon?
Answer:Sitting on your bank can offer accounts tailored for non-profits in Oregon, you can also look into online banks, as many of them reduced their fees.
Can a non-profit in Oregon assign intellectual property rights to a for-profit entity?
Yes, A non-profit in Oregon can assign intellectual property rights to a for-profit entity, but want to ensure its in line with their mission and maintain tax exempt status.
Are donations made to a non-profit tax-deductible in Oregon?
Yes, donations and contributions made to a non-profit in Oregon are tax deductible as the organization should have tax-exempt status.
How can I receive funding for my non-profit in Oregon?
Nonprofits in Oregon have a few ways for monetary help, such as through receiving grants, fundraising events, memberships, development of social enterprises, such as advocacy law firms, more localized donations from community members.
Where can I find resources and support to help me start a non-profit in Oregon?
Organizations such as Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Organizations, Voluntary Attorney Services, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Non-Profit Association, Oregon Center for Non- Profits can help in starting and ongoing operations for a non-profit in Oregon.
What is the difference between a public charitable non-profit in Oregon and a private foundation?
A public charity is an organization in Oregon that devotes its resources to serving the public, With at least one-third of its revenues per year By contrast, a private foundation, dedicates support through income producers with its IRS designation status different than that of a public non-profit.
Can a non-profit own properties in Oregon?
Yes, a non-profit corporation from Oregon has a right to buy and own property, receive bequests, and other similar acts.
Can non-profit elections or political activities affect their religious or fundraising operations status?
Yes political activities and election influence the ability to retain religious and tax exemption. In Oregon, non-profits engage on these activities in a measure may compromise their non-profit status.
Can my non-profit in Oregon receive donations of discounted real estate?
Yes, My non-profit in Oregon Can receive donations or purchase capital assets including real estate, however, must review and verify the donation serves the mission before acquiring such assets.
Can a non-profit in Oregon profits rent out their property for parties, weddings, and other similar events?
Yes, a non-profit in Oregon can rent out its property for various events as long it aligns with its charitable mission and ordinary basis adopted actions .
Can non-profit employees in Oregon receive workers’ compensation coverage?
Yes, employees and employers in non-profits in Oregon can get workers’ compensation from insurance programs such as “the Start program,” self-insurance, or commercial policies for serving in their non-profit work.
Is my donation to a non-profit in Oregon limited for the purpose I want to designate?
Generally, no, donors can set specific rules they want their donation to go towards, but non-profits still maintain broad discretion for the use of such donation aligned with their missions.
Do non-profits in Oregon need to list the names of their donors in their tax returns with the IRS public reported?
No, they do not. Non-profits can make the names of their donors confidential if their donors want to be anonymous.

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Why You Should Start Oregon Nonprofit

One of the main reasons why you should start an Oregon nonprofit is the ability to address a specific need or cause that you are passionate about. Whether it’s supporting local schools, protecting the environment, or providing resources to underserved populations, starting a nonprofit allows you to focus on the issues that are most important to you. By creating your own organization, you have the flexibility to tailor your efforts to the exact areas you want to target, providing a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your philanthropic endeavors.

Another key reason to start an Oregon nonprofit is the opportunity to build a strong network of support within your community. Nonprofits rely heavily on the dedication and involvement of volunteers, donors, and supporters, all of whom are essential for the success of the organization. By establishing a nonprofit, you have the chance to engage with like-minded individuals who share your passion for creating positive change, forming valuable connections that can help you achieve your goals and expand your impact.

Moreover, starting a nonprofit in Oregon allows you to tap into resources and funding opportunities that are available specifically for nonprofit organizations. From grants and donations to fundraising events and partnerships with other organizations, there are numerous avenues to secure the financial support you need to sustain your nonprofit efforts. By taking advantage of these resources, you can maximize your impact and reach a wider audience with your mission and objectives.

In addition, starting a nonprofit in Oregon can offer valuable personal and professional growth opportunities. As a nonprofit founder, you have the chance to develop leadership and management skills, gain experience in fundraising and budgeting, and build a strong foundation for future endeavors. Running a nonprofit can be a challenging but rewarding experience that pushes you to grow and learn as you navigate the complexities of service delivery and organizational management.

Ultimately, starting an Oregon nonprofit provides a unique opportunity to create positive change, connect with your community, and make a lasting impact on the causes you care about. By taking the initiative to establish your own organization, you are taking an important step towards building a better and brighter future for those in need. Whether you are driven by a desire to help others, a passion for a specific cause, or a commitment to making a difference, starting a nonprofit in Oregon is a powerful way to channel your energy and resources towards creating a more just and equitable society.


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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