How to Start a Nonprofit in Maryland


Nonprofit organizations are tax-exempt entities that may be established as corporations, trusts, or unincorporated associations. Nonprofits can be formed by individuals or groups of people who share a common charitable purpose and want to benefit others. The IRS requires these entities to follow certain procedures when starting up their nonprofits because it provides some protection for donors and the public. For example, if you start a nonprofit in Maryland, it is required of you to file federal tax returns on Form 990 each year detailing how much money you made and spent over the past 12 months along with other financial information about your organization such as assets held by board members or officers of the corporation/trust/association (including themselves). In addition, nonprofits must also provide audited financial statements every two years so that stakeholders can verify how efficiently their money is being used—if there is any wastage or mismanagement involved then this can lead to an organization losing its tax-exempt status which means they have to pay taxes on donations received from supporters just like any other business entity operating in this country would have to do under normal circumstances…

Determine your charitable purpose.

The first step of starting a nonprofit is to determine your charitable purpose. This means that you must identify the problem or issue you want to address and how your organization will work to solve it.

The second step is writing down this information in a mission statement, which should be one sentence long. The mission statement should explain who the nonprofit serves and why it exists. It should also include information about its goals for the future, such as what kind of impact you hope your organization will have on society or how many people are expected to benefit from its work over time. A good example is “To provide temporary housing and emergency services for at-risk populations who have experienced homelessness” (from Housing Action Coalition).

A vision statement expands upon these ideas by describing what success would look like for your organization: What will things be like when everything goes according to plan? The best way to start writing one is by asking yourself questions like, “How do I want my project/business/organization/etc., whatever you might call it, affect people? What kind of person do I want our efforts as an organization to lead others toward becoming? How would they think differently because they were part of this effort?” This should then be written into a sentence-form paragraph describing what success would look like if everything went according to plan…although we know better than anyone else that plans never go exactly according to plan! That’s why we need strategies in place too!”

Write your articles of incorporation.

  • Write your articles of incorporation. You can find the Maryland Articles of Incorporation form on the Trademark Avenue website. Include:
  • The organization’s name
  • A statement that the purpose of the nonprofit is to operate exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes as defined under federal tax law (and/or other purposes permitted by state law). Or you may choose to incorporate it as a business corporation if you want to engage in profit-making activities.
  • The location where meetings will be held (it doesn’t need to be a specific address). If you don’t have an exact location yet, just put “to be determined.”
  • Sign your name at the end of each document and make sure there are two witnesses who also sign both copies and provide their addresses.

Obtain an employer identification number.

  • You must have an employer identification number (EIN) to start a business in Maryland.
  • You can get an EIN online at our website, or by contacting us by phone. Call +1-833-332-2322 Monday through Friday.
  • You’ll need your employer identification number for all tax reporting, including filing a Form 941 for each quarter or year and claiming any tax exemptions that you’re eligible for as a nonprofit organization.

File your paperwork.

After you complete your organizational documents, it’s time to file them. This application is available on our website and must be filed by someone who has been authorized by your nonprofit organization.

Finally, all new nonprofits must submit an annual report form no later than December 15th each year.[5]

Apply for tax-exempt status.

As you begin the process of starting a nonprofit, it is important that you file for tax-exempt status.

The first step of this process is filing Form 1023. This form includes information about your organization’s purpose, structure and activities; it also includes financial information like how much money they plan on receiving in donations each year.

Next, you’ll have to file Form 1024 if you will be soliciting contributions from outside sources—such as foundations or corporations—for more than $5,000 per year. The form requires information about who will be making these solicitations on behalf of your organization as well as any potential conflicts of interest between those individuals and their roles within your organization itself.

Finally there are several other forms that must be completed before applying for tax-exempt status: Form 5768 (if any part of your organization was organized outside Maryland), Form 8038-CP (if any part of your organization was organized outside Maryland), Form 8718 (if either type 1 or type 2 above applies) and finally Form 990 if either type 1 or 2 applied above does not apply but more than $50,000 was received from government grants/contracts during its last fiscal year ending June 30th

Recruit a board of directors.

A board of directors is a group of people who oversee the operations of an organization. This can be made up of volunteers or paid staff, and they are usually appointed by the founding members of the organization. Board members should have knowledge in areas such as finance, accounting, marketing and fundraising. If you don’t have enough people on your board with certain expertise, consider hiring an executive director or consultant to assist with those tasks.

Your nonprofit will also need someone who is legally responsible for signing contracts and other legal documents on behalf of your organization — this person is called either an officer or a trustee depending on where you live (Maryland law refers to them as trustees).

Open a bank account.

One of the most important steps in starting a nonprofit is opening a bank account. You will use this account to deposit funds raised through your organization and pay bills, so it’s essential that you choose an account that’s convenient for you.

For example, if you’d like to be able to write checks from home or at work without having to go into the bank, consider asking about accounts with online banking features. Other options include credit unions and community banks—they have fewer fees than larger banks do, but may not offer as many services.

To open an account with a financial institution (a “bank”), bring:

  • Your nonprofit’s federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Create a fundraising plan that is sustainable with your startup budget and resources.

When you start a nonprofit in Maryland, you are likely to have limited resources. This can make it difficult to plan for your future funding needs. It is important to set realistic goals and create a fundraising calendar that works with your startup budget and resources.

Start by determining how much money you will need annually for operational expenses, like salaries, rent and utilities. Consider how much money will be needed to fund programs or services that are currently not being provided by other organizations in the community. If possible, try getting feedback from people who might want to donate before setting your goal amount; this will help keep things realistic when creating a fundraising calendar!


The takeaway of this article is that you should start a nonprofit in Maryland. Nonprofits are a great way to help people, and there are many different types of nonprofits—you can pick the one that suits your cause best! Make sure to follow the steps in this guide when starting a nonprofit in Maryland so that you get everything right from the beginning.


Starting a nonprofit can be a challenging and rewarding experience. The process is complex, but with careful preparation and planning, the rewards are great.

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