How to Start a Nonprofit in Florida


Florida is one of the most popular places for retirees to live. That’s great news for nonprofits helping aging adults, but the state also has a thriving creative and tech sector that’s ripe for innovation. Whether you’re gearing your nonprofit toward seniors or toward millennials, it’s important to know how to start a nonprofit in Florida.

Learn State Laws

The first step in starting a nonprofit in Florida is learning about the state laws governing these organizations. The laws are different for each type of nonprofit. You can learn more about Florida’s nonprofit laws on the state’s website.

You should also do research on how to form your specific type of organization, including how much money it will take to get your non-profit off the ground and what paperwork you need to submit.

Choose your Name

A Florida nonprofit will need a specific name that includes an appropriate legal ending, like “corporation” or “foundation.” Names cannot be the same as any other registered Florida nonprofit; names may not contain misleading words or phrases such as “donor,” “donations,” or “charity”; and they cannot imply government sponsorship. Names should also avoid being offensive to any group of people or imply religious affiliation unless the organization’s purpose is specifically religious.

File Article of Incorporation

Once you’ve decided on a name, it’s time to start thinking about the legal documents needed to get your nonprofit off the ground. You’ll need articles of incorporation, a document that provides information about your charitable mission, and the other basics of your organization. Articles of incorporation are created by state offices and filed.

The process for creating these documents varies from state to state; some states have formal requirements for filing articles with their office (for example, Florida requires that an attorney draft and submit them). Regardless of what paperwork you need to file, make sure you follow all applicable laws when creating your nonprofit’s articles.

Get a Registered Agent

You’ll need to hire a registered agent to receive official notices on your behalf. A registered agent is an individual or business that agrees to accept important documents sent by mail, email, fax, and other means of delivery. Your legal address will not be used as your physical location so make sure you keep this information in a safe place. You must also have a backup emergency contact who is authorized to accept any legal notice if the registered office becomes unavailable for some reason.

The cost to hire a register a registered agent varies by service but typically ranges from $150-$200 per year plus $10-$20 per month depending on where you live in Florida and what services they offer such as notary publics or private mailboxes services etc.

Create a Record

You’ll need to file other information with the state, such as your first meeting minutes and any organizational bylaws.

  • A bylaw is a set of rules that governs how an organization operates.
  • Minutes are records of a meeting’s proceedings. These documents can include information on how much money was raised at a fundraising event, what the new committee chair will be tasked with doing for the year, which bills were passed during deliberation, and more.

Get Permission From the Department of Revenue

You’ll need to apply for authorization from the Florida Department of Revenue before you can apply for tax-exempt status. The state requires that you file a copy of your articles of incorporation and bylaws with them, along with a completed application form, which is available on their website. You will also have to submit an application fee and submit supporting documentation such as proof that you’re not engaging in any prohibited activities (which includes making political contributions).

Here are some useful links:

  • The Florida Department of Revenue’s charity application form
  • Their FAQs section about filing for non-profit status in Florida
  • Their charitable organization guidebook (PDF)

Fill out Form 1023.

The form is long and takes time to complete, but once you have it filled out and signed by the incorporators of your organization, you’re ready for the next step: applying for state tax-exempt status from the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR).

Tax-exemption Status

Once you’ve obtained 501(c)(3) status, you can apply for tax exemptions at both state and local levels. For example, property taxes are waived for many charitable organizations.

Additionally, your organization may qualify for sales tax exemptions in some states and even the ability to issue donation receipts that allow donors to deduct their contributions from their federal income taxes. In some cases, this can mean a significant amount of money back on every donation made!

The benefits of obtaining 501(c)(3) status are nearly endless: not only will you be able to raise more funds without paying taxes on them (which is especially helpful if your nonprofit has an end goal that requires large amounts of capital), but it will also enable donors’ contributions from being counted as tax write-offs and allow individuals who want to donate their money directly into the hands of those who need help most!


Now that you know how to start a nonprofit in Florida, it’s time to get started! As your organization grows and evolves, you may find yourself needing additional legal help. Many of the same steps apply when starting a nonprofit in other states, so now would be a good time to do some research on your options.

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