How to Start a Nonprofit in Michigan


When it comes to starting a nonprofit, you have two options: forming the organization with the state or registering as a nonprofit corporation. Forming an organization is only necessary if you want to be legally organized in Michigan and become exempt from federal income tax. If you’re just looking for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, then registering your nonprofit corporation is enough. To do this in Michigan, follow these steps:

What is a Nonprofit Corporation?

A nonprofit corporation is a company that is created for a specific purpose, like raising money for breast cancer research or helping the homeless. It does not pay taxes, but it can receive donations from individuals and other organizations.

These corporations are also known as 501(c)(3) organizations because of their tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This designation means that they do not pay income taxes and donors may deduct contributions on their tax returns.

  • Nonprofit corporations do not have owners or shareholders; they must be run by directors elected by their board members. The board’s responsibilities include hiring key personnel (like executives), setting an annual budget and strategic plan/goals, approving financial statements and spending policies, and making long-term plans for growth and expansion within its community boundaries (if applicable), among other things.*

Why State Requirements Matter

One reason for the state’s oversight is that a nonprofit is receiving money from the state. Since the government wants to make sure that those funds are being used properly, it has an interest in seeing that your organization is following all laws and regulations. The more complex your organization becomes, the more you may need to comply with state requirements, especially if you’re managing volunteers or employees.

Some nonprofits are so small they don’t qualify as tax-exempt under federal or state law because they don’t generate enough revenue to pay taxes (see Section 2). But even if this doesn’t apply to your group right now—or ever—it’s still important to know what paperwork needs filing at each level of government so there are no surprises down the road when trying to get grants or other sources of funding

Required Information for Michigan Nonprofits

To register your nonprofit in Michigan, you will need to provide the following information:

  • The name of your organization.
  • The purpose of your organization, including what you hope to achieve, who it serves and why it was founded.
  • The address where its headquarters are located, if applicable. If you’re starting a nonprofit in Michigan that has no physical location—for example, if yours is a virtual or online organization—you’ll also need to list an address where people can send correspondence if they need to reach you. This could be any location within Michigan (e.g., “The John Doe Foundation,” c/o John Doe). It doesn’t have to be the same as any other address listed on your application form; however, it must be valid and reachable by mail or courier services. You will also be required to submit a description of how your board is structured and operates (if applicable) and a brief history of how this structure came into being, a list of all officers and members who have voting rights within the organization, and the assets owned by the organization—such as property deeds and stock certificates—as well as liabilities owed by it (such as debts).

Additional Information for Michigan Nonprofits

Michigan nonprofits are required to file an annual report. The form must be submitted within 90 days of the end of your fiscal year and includes information about your organization’s name, address, purpose and officers.

Michigan state requires a statement from your registered agent that he or she has accepted an appointment as such or has consented to act in that capacity.

Additionally, Michigan requires you to provide certain basic information about yourself and your employees:

The first step to getting your nonprofit up and running is forming your organization with the state.

The first step to getting your nonprofit up and running is forming your organization. The requirements for filing are straightforward: You’ll need to file articles of incorporation, which include details about the name of your organization and its purpose. You’ll also need a registered agent—a person or corporation that can accept legal documents on behalf of your entity—and a physical address where you can receive mail. Finally, you’ll need to file an annual report every year by June 1st so that the State knows you’re still around; this report must include information about how many people were served by your nonprofit last year and how much money was spent on programs (if any).

Once all these steps are complete and filed, you will be issued an official certificate confirming that your organization has been incorporated as a nonprofit under Michigan law! Your board members should keep this document handy when it comes time for tax season each year.


When you’re ready to start your nonprofit, the first step is to make sure you have all of the necessary information. You can find a link to the state form on our website, or call us at +1-833-332-2322 if you need help filling it out. Once we get everything in order, we will be able to file your paperwork with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Then they will approve or deny your application within 90 days.

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