How to Start a Nonprofit in Utah


Congratulations! You’re thinking about starting a nonprofit in Utah. But before you can start fundraising and organizing volunteers, you’ll need to figure out how to set up your organization legally. In this article, we’ll walk through the steps of creating an LLC or non-profit corporation (known as an “incorporation”), filing state forms, registering with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization—and more!

Name your nonprofit.

You’ll want to name your organization with care. You’ll want something that:

  • is unique and easy to remember.
  • is not offensive or misleading, such as when it might be confused with a similar-sounding group doing the same thing in another state or country.

Create an Articles of Incorporation.

An Articles of Incorporation is a document that establishes your organization as an official nonprofit entity. This can be done by filing it with the state and paying any applicable fees, or you can choose to create your own version right at home.

How do I start an Articles of Incorporation?

An Articles of Incorporation is a simple two-page document that must include your name, address, tax ID number (EIN), and one sentence stating what it is for. It also requires the signature of all board members as well as the signature of someone who has been given power of attorney on behalf of them all. Any judge or notary public can legally sign off on an Articles of Incorporation if they have proper identification confirming their status at the time they sign it — no additional proof needed!

Create By-laws for your nonprofit.

The by-laws for your organization will be a set of rules that govern the internal functions and procedures of your nonprofit. They are not legally binding, so they don’t need to be in writing, but they should be agreed upon by all members of your board and kept up-to-date as necessary.

Recognize that having a set of by-laws is just another way to help protect yourself and the people who contribute money or time to your cause. For example, if someone wants to sue you because something happened during their involvement with your organization (like getting injured), having a record of what decisions were made at each board meeting can help show that everything was done properly. Having good documentation also shows transparency—which is an important characteristic when it comes time for fundraising!

Find a registered agent for your nonprofit.

A registered agent is someone who is authorized to receive legal documents on behalf of a nonprofit. Registered agents are required by law to maintain a physical address in Utah, and they can be either an individual or a business. Protect your board from liability with an indemnification agreement. An indemnification agreement is a contract that protects a nonprofit’s board members from personal financial liability if they make a decision that results in harm to someone else.

There are many benefits of hiring a registered agent for your nonprofit, including:

  • Having someone who can accept notices from the state or federal government regarding changes in corporate structure
  • Being able to better manage your corporate compliance requirements

File your Articles of Incorporation with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code at the Utah Department of Commerce.

Before you begin, you must file your Articles of Incorporation with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code at the Utah Department of Commerce. This is a critical step in starting a nonprofit organization in Utah. You can do this online or download and print an application form and mail it to:

Utah Department of Commerce

Division of Corporations & Commercial Code

160 East 300 South Room 250

Salt Lake City, UT 84145-5034

Determine if you need to file any other state forms

You can also file for a sales tax license, business license, resale certificate and/or liquor license.

If you are planning to sell or provide anything that could be considered an entertainment event (including live music), then you will need to apply for an entertainment license.

Register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3) organization.

You can apply online for 501(c)(3) status once you have your Articles of Incorporation and By-laws on hand, as well as the name, address and EIN of your nonprofit organization. The IRS will review your application within 120 days but may take longer if they need additional information from the applicant. Once approved, the IRS will send a letter to confirm tax-exempt status.

You can start a nonprofit in Utah by following these steps.

You can start a nonprofit in Utah by following these steps:

  • Determine whether your nonprofit will be tax-exempt (a 501(c)(3) organization). If you don’t need to be tax-exempt, you can skip this step.
  • File with the IRS and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Register with the state of Utah as a nonprofit corporation or unincorporated association by filing Articles of Organization with the state. For corporations, you will also need to file a Certificate of Incorporation with the Secretary of State’s office. In addition, if you plan on soliciting donations from Utah residents for more than $50 per year or $100 total annually at any one time, then it is necessary that your organization register under Title 15A Chapter 17 as an exempt fund solicitation organization before any fundraising activities take place in order to avoid possible penalties from both federal and state agencies for violating solicitation laws.


Starting a nonprofit in Utah can be a little intimidating, but it’s not impossible. If you have the passion and drive to start an organization that will make an impact on your community, then go for it! The process is not complicated and can be done with careful planning and research.

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