How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in South Dakota (2024 Guide)

Start a Nonprofit Corporation in South Dakota

If you would like to form a corporation in South Dakota, 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota, 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 South Dakota, 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 South Dakota is Feeding South Dakota – A non-profit organization that fights hunger by providing food to those in need..

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Steps on How to Start a Nonprofit Corporation in South Dakota

To start a nonprofit corporation in South Dakota, 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 South Dakota, 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota:

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 South Dakota Secretary of State

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

Register the Name

Depending on your South Dakota ‘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 Not available, and mail reservation fee of $25. 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 South Dakota Secretary of State’s business name database and South Dakota 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 two methods, by mail and in person., which costs around $10. In addition, the DBA’s validity in South Dakota is five years, which you can file in South Dakota Secretary of State.

You can check out How to File a DBA in South Dakota 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 South Dakota Registered Agent Services to check in forming South Dakota 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 South Dakota, 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 South Dakota nonprofit corporation is to formally incorporate your organization with the South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota may be done with two methods, online and by mail. The Articles of Incorporation fee may vary from different state. However, in South Dakota, it costs $150 for online filing, and $165 for filing by mail..

  • 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 Office, 500 E Capitol Ave, Pierre, SD 57501

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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota for this reporting system is best.

Step 11: Launch and Promote the Nonprofit

With your South Dakota 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 South Dakota

In forming a nonprofit corporation in South Dakota, the filing and Annual fees must be paid. Without it, your nonprofit corporation won’t operate. In South Dakota, the nonprofit costs $150 for online filing, and $165 for filing by mail., and should file an Annual Report. You should ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your South Dakota nonprofit corporation will run successfully and smoothly.

Is Forming a Nonprofit Corporation in South Dakota Worth It?

Forming a nonprofit corporation in South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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 South Dakota?
A Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota is an organization or corporation that operates exclusively for social causes or betterment without making a profit.
Who is responsible for registering a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
The South Dakota Secretary of State’s office is responsible for registering a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota.
How can I check the availability of a Non-Profit Corporation name in South Dakota?
You can check the South Dakota Secretary of State website to see if the chosen Non-Profit Corporation name is available.
How much does it cost to start a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
The fee to register a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota is \$10.
What is included in the registration fee for a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
The registration fee includes a copies of Articles of Incorporation and a Statement of Officers.
How long does it take to register a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
It usually takes 5-7 business days to register a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota.
Do we need to get a business license in South Dakota to register a Non-Profit Corporation?
No, Non-Profit Corporations are exempt from business licensing in South Dakota.
Is it necessary to obtain a 501(c)(3) status in South Dakota to run a Non-Profit Corporation?
No, it’s not mandatory to obtain a 501(c)(3) status, but it can help with getting more donations, tax exemptions, and credibility.
How Can I apply for the 501(c)(3) status in South Dakota?
To apply for the 501(c)(3) status in South Dakota, you need to submit Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ to the IRS.
What information should be included for forming a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
You will need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State’s office, choose a name, name your Directors and Officers, and prepare the By-Laws.
What is the mandatory learning process for Non-Profit board members in South Dakota?
There are no mandatory learning processes for Non-Profit board members in South Dakota.
Who can sit on the Board of Directors for a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
Anyone with the legal right to perform the aforementioned board responsibilities can sit on the Board of Directors.
Does a Non-Profit Corporation need to pay income taxes in South Dakota?
No, a Non-Profit Corporation is exempt from paying state income taxes if they meet specific criteria under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Service.
What is the tax-exempt status of South Dakota Non-Profit Corporations, and how does it work?
Non-Profit Coroporations in South Dakota can receive federal tax-exempt status for specific activities as per Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c) to become what’s known as 501(c)(3). Donations made by individuals to a tax-exempt Non-Profit are tax-deductible.
Can I also register for a sales tax exemption as a Non-Profit Corporation in South Dakota?
These exemptions are available from the Director of Revenue via application and approval.
Are there rules governing fundraising by Non-Profit Corporations in South Dakota?
Yes, if the Non-Profit project uses a gambling game or solicitation of funds from the general public, for instance, the State of South Dakota has regulations, laws, and strict reporting procedures on such.
What professionals in South Dakota can help me set up/register my Non-Profit Corporation?
You can find nonprofit centers, professional desk spaces, operational support firms, and consultants specialized in Non-Profit registration in South Dakota.
Does South Dakota require payment of additional state fees annually for Non-Profit companies besides the initial fee?
No, only the initial registration fee is required under South Dakota law.
What counts as a qualifying charitable function in South Dakota for a Non-Profit group?
Qualifying public benefit activities
What disclosure approvals are required to file for the Non-Profit registration process in South Dakota?
You must give out basic information covering how the organization will operate and disclose the details of your Non-Profit Corporations’ principles online related to the available tax or registration facilities granted by the state.
Is there a general activity reported obligation under South Dakota State Law reporting requirements?
Yes, Non-Profit Corporations need to submit the annual report that outlines a summary of their charitable programs and achieve depend largely on different locales, regulations, and detailing responsibilities uploaded to the IRS.
What exactly, according to South Dakota law, does a registered Non-Profit Corporation give us in terms of legal limitations on policies and operations?
The main supreme limit along these lines, in addition to reports, ethical guidelines, and overseeing, have primarily to do with laws regarding fraud, both in state and national government ofcourse.
Can individuals who invest in a not-public Non-Profit Corporation experience any leniency regarding taxation policies?
Usually no, some towns might impose scrutiny and repayment of earnings if investors yearly down payments exceed certain boundaries under law, Therefore always make Sure to check tax advice attorney.
Are required replacement meetings necessitated by South Dakota legislation for Non-Profit Corporations?
While replacing meetings don’t happen all too often, meeting in case of delegated privilege contingencies can help makes staff transitions happen more smoothly.
What types of Operating Revenue considerations does the state of South Dakota look at when approving Non-Profit Corporations membership status ad verification for their practices Compliance?
Member salaries or major Operating Revenues for exec compensation usually fall under hardship court evaluations only when specifically deferred. The transparency reports and even questionnaires acted by interview during your registration process).
How do we appeal a possible denial of Non-Profit incorporation in South Dakota?
The state of resident conference goes through reviewing appellate standards held for most DRS refusals of incorporation presence estimations in the state, so filing those papers might take long, so if you are eager to incorporate your nonprofit agency into a nationwide or regional one-lobby with focused supervisors ad support also work as an attraction.
Based on South Dakota laws, are there fundraising, redistribution or 501(c)(iii) an income limit for Non-Profit Corporations?
No, funding is wholly unrestricted based on criteria available for the yearly renewal revenue expenses and the expenditures for the goals declared beforehand.
What deductions on Joint Filings do South Dakota Non-Profit Corporation members have that Limited Liability Corporation filings as a for-benefit industry generally might not have access to?
Charitable donations and Service-related fare.
In South Dakota, can churches and faith organizations file for Non-Profit Incorporation recognition as well for free?
Faith-based and church-based entities from South Dakota may file eligibility exemptions applying “religious, faith-bent, alliance-primitive aim or expanded-spec social tolerance.”
How does Bylaw Customization Adaptation Deferral late Suspension Practices work for establishments or organizations wanting to become certified Non-Profit agencies for classification specific claims assessments?
Bylaw research generally benefits Non-Profit corporations, provided you update organizers on substantial updates right away (as soon as no more public indemnification stipulations have reached) and even the working deadlines met about, and gain qualifications while verifying payment settings beforehand.

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Why You Should Start South Dakota Nonprofit

One of the main reasons to start a nonprofit in South Dakota is the opportunity to address pressing social issues or fill gaps in services that exist in your community. Nonprofits have the unique ability to create innovative solutions to problems that affect individuals and families in need. By starting a nonprofit, you can be at the forefront of creating positive change and making a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Furthermore, starting a nonprofit allows you to pursue your passions and interests in a meaningful way. Whether you are dedicated to helping animals, advocating for social justice, or providing educational opportunities, a nonprofit organization can be the perfect platform to channel your energy and skills towards a cause that is close to your heart. By starting a nonprofit, you can create a lasting legacy and impact that goes beyond your individual efforts.

In addition to making a difference in your community and pursuing your passions, starting a South Dakota nonprofit can also open up opportunities for personal and professional growth. Running a nonprofit requires a diverse set of skills, including leadership, creativity, and communication. By taking on the challenge of starting a nonprofit, you can develop and enhance these skills, leading to personal growth and development.

Moreover, starting a nonprofit can provide you with the opportunity to build strong relationships and networks within your community. Nonprofits rely on the support of volunteers, donors, and partners to achieve their goals and make an impact. By starting your own nonprofit, you can connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for creating positive change. Building these relationships can not only enhance the success of your nonprofit but also provide you with a sense of belonging and support as you work towards your mission.

Lastly, starting a nonprofit in South Dakota can allow you to leave a lasting impact on future generations. By creating a sustainable nonprofit organization, you can ensure that your work and efforts continue to make a difference long after you’re gone. Nonprofits have the ability to create long-lasting change and improvements in communities, and by starting your own nonprofit, you can contribute to that legacy of impact and service.

In conclusion, starting a nonprofit in South Dakota can be a rewarding and transformative experience. Whether you are driven by a desire to create change, pursue your passions, or grow personally and professionally, starting a nonprofit can provide you with the platform to make a difference and leave a lasting impact on your community. So what are you waiting for? Take the next step and start your South Dakota nonprofit today.


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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