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9 Steps to Starting a Nonprofit in Georgia

Starting a Nonprofit in Georgia in 9 Steps
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated September 5, 2023
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If you’re thinking of starting a nonprofit in Georgia, you’re far from alone. In Georgia, there are over 57,000 nonprofit organizations that employ nearly 500,000 people.In order to start a nonprofit in Georgia, there are requirements at both the state and federal levels that must be met.

What Is a Nonprofit?

A nonprofit is a legal entity that, rather than focusing on generating profits, seeks to serve a community or population with its services.Some examples of nonprofits are those that help physically-abused women, children with diseases, or neglected pets. 

How Do Nonprofits Work?

While a nonprofit may generate revenues through fundraising, donations, and grants, rather than distributing those profits to shareholders and owners, the money is put back into fulfilling the cause of the organization.Nonprofits are, according to the IRS, tax-exempt, though they do need to meet certain requirements to obtain and maintain this status.

Nonprofits vs. Businesses

Both nonprofits and for-profit companies may offer services or products, though only businesses retain the profits from those sales. Nonprofits may offer services at no or low cost in order to serve their audience.If nonprofits do sell goods or services, they don’t keep them, but rather use them to serve their audience. Businesses may reinvest their profits or distribute them among shareholders.Unlike nonprofits, for-profits are taxed on their profits.

Starting a Nonprofit in Georgia in 9 Steps

Starting a nonprofit can be time-consuming and complicated, and the state you’re in may require different steps. Here is how to start a nonprofit in the state of Georgia.

1. Register Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step is to search for the name you want for your nonprofit in Georgia’s business name search. If the name is not already in use, you can then register the name and pay a $25 filing fee.

2. Elect Directors and Officers

Georgia nonprofit filing requirements state that you must have at least one director, though at the federal level, you may be required to have at least three unrelated Board members to qualify for tax exemption.You will also need to elect a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer as well as define the roles and responsibilities for each.

3. Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is authorized to receive correspondence on behalf of the Georgia nonprofit, and must have a physical mailing address in Georgia.If your nonprofit is small, you may elect to be the registered agent yourself, or you can choose a Board member.

4. File Your Articles of Incorporation

Your Articles of Incorporation is your formal application to register your nonprofit with the state of Georgia. You can use the Articles of Incorporation template from the IRS and mail it in or file it online. There is a $110 processing fee for mailing it in and a $100 processing fee if you file it online.This step is not only required by the state, but is also necessary for getting approved for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

5. Publish Your Intent to Incorporate Your Georgia Nonprofit

Within one business day of filing your Articles of Incorporation, your organization is required to publish your Intent to Incorporate in a local newspaper, along with paying a $40 fee.

6. Get Your Employer Identification Number

Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a bit like a Social Security number, but it’s for your business. It’s what you’ll use to file your taxes (you may have to file taxes, even if your nonprofit is exempt from paying them). You can apply for an EIN online at no cost to you.

7. Create Your Bylaws at the First Organizational Meeting

Next up is drafting your nonprofit bylaws Georgia regulations require. Your nonprofit bylaws outline the procedures you will use to operate the organization. By state law, you are required to adopt these bylaws at the first organizational meeting.

8. File Your Initial Report

You can file your initial report with the state of Georgia online, and this must be done within 90 days of filing your Articles of Incorporation. This report will include contact information for the registered agent and nonprofit organization, as well as the name and address of each officer.

9. Open a Nonprofit Bank Account

And finally, you can open a bank account for your new nonprofit organization. This is the account you will use to deposit funds and pay expenses for your organization. Once you set up your accounting software, you will be able to generate financial statements from this account.

Other Federal Steps to Creating a Nonprofit

In order to qualify for tax exemption, you will need to apply to become a 501(c)(3) organization. There are criteria to qualify that you must meet, so make sure your organization is eligible before applying.Once you have been awarded 501(c)(3) status, you will also want to be tax-exempt in Georgia. When you file taxes, include your IRS Determination Letter and Letter of Incorporation.

Funding a Nonprofit

It may feel like you’ve moved mountains to start your nonprofit, but the hard work isn’t over yet. Once everything is set up legally, it’s time to figure out how you will find funding to support operations and help your audience. You have several options to consider.


There are grants offered to nonprofits by local and federal government agencies, as well as corporations. Competition may be fierce, so it’s worth exploring grant writing tips or even hiring a professional grant writer who has experience helping nonprofits secure financing through grants.


The heart of your fundraising may come from donations, from both private individuals and business entities. Consider ways you can raise funds through events, online activities, and community involvement.

Business Loans

There are also loans for nonprofits that may be helpful, particularly in the early days of getting up and running. These loans may have long repayment terms and low interest rates if your organization qualifies.


One final option when it comes to funding a nonprofit is to leverage crowdfunding. Through online crowdfunding platforms, private individuals can donate funds to organizations like yours. This money does not have to be repaid.

Compare Small Business Loan Rates

There are many steps involved when it comes to starting a nonprofit in Georgia. Make sure to complete each step in its entirety or you could lose your ability to qualify for tax exemption at both the federal and state level.If you’re looking to fund your nonprofit with a small business loan, Lantern by SoFi can help. With Lantern, you can receive a small business loan offer from one of our leading lenders by filling out one simple form, all with no obligation to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in GA?
Can an LLC be a nonprofit in Georgia?
Can nonprofit owners in Georgia make money?
Photo credit: iStock/FangXiaNuo

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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