Oklahoma, known as “The Sooner State”, is filled with a diverse landscape of Great Plains, hills, forests, and lakes. Its pioneer history and devotion to commemorating Native American culture is a draw to Oklahomans and visitors alike.

Oklahoma is also a state with a surprisingly large nonprofit scene. As of December 2016, almost 17,000 nonprofits were registered in the state, generating over $14.8 billion in annual revenue. These nonprofits deliver vital services to their community; for instance, the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma are made up of 14,000 girls and volunteers with programs dedicated to helping girls make good decisions, improve their self-esteem, appreciate diversity, and contribute to the community. Hands-on learning in areas such as STEM allow the girls to earn badges at out-of-school learning environments, such as the Oklahoma Science Museum. (source: Independent Sector)

If you’re interested in joining the growing nonprofit scene in Oklahoma, you’ve come to the right place. How exactly do you go about the process of starting an Oklahoma-based nonprofit?

The first thing to know is that there are three main steps to forming a nonprofit in Oklahoma:

  1. Choose your board of directors.
  2. Reserve your nonprofit’s name (or check name availability).
  3. File for incorporation.

For detailed explanations on each of these steps, keep reading…

Step 1: Choose your Board of Directors.

Forming a Board of Directors is an essential first step toward forming any nonprofit. Your Board will act as the governing body of your nonprofit, and will meet periodically to discuss and make decisions on behalf of your organization.

At this initial stage, you’ll need to appoint three people to your Board of Directors to fill the roles of President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Be sure to include the physical addresses of each of your directors; note that their Social Security numbers are not required.

You may wish to appoint more than three people to your Board- this is fine, just know that you must appoint a minimum of three members at this time.

Now that you’ve formed your Board of Directors, it’s time to move onto step 2!

Step 2: Reserve your nonprofit’s name (or check name availability).

The second thing you’ll need to do after forming a Board of Directors is to reserve the name of your nonprofit. This ensures that your organization’s name is available in your state, and it prevents someone else from incorporating an organization with the same name. In order to reserve your name, you’ll need to go to the Oklahoma Secretary of State website and fill out their Application for Reservation of Name Form, which reserves your name for up to 60 days. As of 2018, the filing fee for this form is $10 by mail and online.

You’ll need to input your organization’s full name, plus two alternative names (just in case the name you have chosen is already in use by someone else).

Please note that while reserving your name is not technically required to apply for incorporation, you should still check to see if the name is available so that your application isn’t rejected. To check for name availability, go to the name availability search page on the Oklahoma Secretary of State website.

After you’ve reserved your nonprofit’s name or checked for name availability, you’re ready to move onto step 3: filing for incorporation.

Step 3: File for Incorporation

The final step in incorporating your Oklahoma nonprofit organization is to prepare and submit your incorporation application through the Oklahoma Secretary of State website. The incorporation form can also be found here. As of 2018, the filing fee for the form is $25 by mail and online.

When filling out your incorporation form, you’ll need to include:

  • A primary address (this must be a valid physical address)
  • Mission statement/purpose
  • Name and address of your registered agent (must be a resident of the state)

Once you’ve submitted your application to the Oklahoma Secretary of State Department, you should receive a response within 10 business days. If your application is approved, you’ll receive your Articles of Incorporation at this time.

Congratulations on incorporating your Oklahoma nonprofit!

A faster, easier option

Now that you have your Oklahoma nonprofit corporation, you can use your state information and federal EIN to open a bank account for your nonprofit. However, setting up your nonprofit in Oklahoma is just part of the process of becoming a formal tax-exempt organization. The next step is to file for a federal tax exemption using either IRS form 1023 or 1023EZ.

If you’re looking for a faster, easier way to go through these processes, look no further than ExemptMeNow. We take the frustration and anxiety out of the incorporation and tax-exemption processes by offering an easy-to-use, streamlined online platform. The average nonprofit takes over 100 hours to start, but we can help you reduce that time by up to 90% (and save money on professional fees and costly mistakes).

Ready to get started? Sign up for a free account and get ready to incorporate your Oklahoma nonprofit today!