How to Start a Nonprofit in Alaska

To start a nonprofit in Alaska and get 501c3 status, follow these steps:

Step 1: Name Your Alaska Nonprofit
Step 2: Choose Your Registered Agent
Step 3: Select Your Board Members & Officers
Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy
Step 5: File the Articles of Incorporation
Step 6: Get an EIN
Step 7: Apply for 501c3

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Starting a 501c3 Nonprofit in Alaska Is Easy

Alaska is a great state to start a nonprofit. As in other states, nonprofits in Alaska fulfill needs that are uniquely suited to their community, which prioritizes fulfilling a mission or providing a public benefit over generating profits. From religious organizations to educational institutions, social clubs to arts and humanities, Alaska nonprofits serve their state and its residents in a variety of ways. 

There are over 5,000 nonprofits in Alaska as of this writing, which is a surprisingly large number given the relatively small population. Altogether, these nonprofits employ nearly 50,000 people. Combined, the nonprofits in Alaska bring in more than $7 billion in revenue annually and possess approximately $18 billion in assets. 

As you would expect, the biggest concentration of nonprofits is found in Anchorage. It’s home to nearly 3,000 nonprofits that employ almost 24,000 people and earn revenues of over $3.5 million per year. Fairbanks also has a large concentration of nonprofits, though not nearly the size of Anchorage. Around 650 nonprofits call Fairbanks home and those organizations employ nearly 7,000 people. Their combined revenues add up to over $1 million per year. 

The biggest nonprofits in Alaska in terms of size and revenue include:

  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  • SouthCentral Foundation
  • Foundation Health
  • Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
  • Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium

Among the nonprofits in the state, religious organizations are the most numerous. Recreation sports, social clubs, and educational institutions are the next most common group. Business and community development organizations and arts and culture organizations are also quite numerous. 

To start a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization in Alaska, you must first start a nonprofit in Alaska according to the rules of the state and then apply for 501c3 status with the IRS.

Learn more about 501c3 eligibility in our What is a 501c3 guide.

Want to form a nonprofit elsewhere? Check out our other How to Start a Nonprofit guides. Also, check out our best nonprofit formation services review.

Step 1: Name Your Alaska Nonprofit

Determining the right name for your Alaska nonprofit is the first key step in starting your organization. Just remember, you need to adhere to the state’s rules for naming businesses. It’s also important to ensure that your nonprofit’s name is easy to search for by donors and potential members. 

To learn more, read our How to Name a Nonprofit in Alaska guide.

1. Follow the naming guidelines:

  • The name of your organization must:
    • Be easy to distinguish from other organizations in the state.
    • Not imply that the organization has another purpose than described in the Articles of Incorporation.
    • Avoid using words that have professional licensing restrictions, such as engineer, unless your organization has the appropriate license.
    • Avoid including words or terms that could be considered vulgar or in violation of local laws or agencies.
    • Avoid designations like “corporation” or “incorporated” if your business is unincorporated. Or, if your business is incorporated, it must use the appropriate designation.

For the full set of Alaska naming rules, read the Department of Commerce’s official guidelines.

2. Is the name available in Alaska? Conduct a name search on the Alaska state website to ensure the name you want to use isn’t already taken.

3. Is the URL available? It’s always a good idea to verify if your name is available as a web domain. Even if you are going to wait to create a website, it’s best to purchase the URL you will need to avoid losing it to someone else. 

You have taken the important steps of name verification and purchasing your URL. Now, you can choose a professional service to wrap up the Alaska nonprofit formation process. Our recommendation is a business formation service with ample experience and a proven record of great customer service. 

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Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Alaska

To adhere to state law, your nonprofit must designate an Alaska registered agent. 

What is a registered agent? A registered agent is an individual or organization you designate to receive important legal documentation on behalf of your nonprofit. It’s the person or organization that serves as your nonprofit’s point of contact with the state. 

Who can be a registered agent? You have the option of hiring a registered agent service or designating yourself, an employee, or someone else you trust to be the registered agent.  

We have written a complete guide on How to Choose a Registered Agent for your Alaska Nonprofit. Check it out if you have any questions about deciding who will serve as your registered agent.

Step 3: Select your Directors & Officers

The directors of an organization come together to form a board of directors. This board of directors is responsible for overseeing the operations of the nonprofit. 

The president, secretary, and other members of the nonprofit who have individual responsibilities and authorities are known as officers.

Both Alaska and the IRS require 501c3 nonprofits to have at least three directors to be eligible for 501c3 status. The majority of directors should not be related to each other.

Alaska also requires that the nonprofit’s officers include:

  • A president
  • At least one vice president
  • A secretary
  • A treasurer

With the exception of the president and secretary, officers can hold multiple titles if the bylaws allow for it.

To learn more about electing an Alaska nonprofit board of directors, read our full guide.

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

To be eligible to apply for 501c3 status, your nonprofit is required to have the following two documents:

  1. Bylaws 
  2. Conflict of Interest Policy

What are bylaws? The bylaws are the rules you create that indicate your nonprofit’s operating procedures. 

What is a conflict of interest policy? The conflict of interest policy includes the guidelines you create to ensure that all decisions made by the board of directors or the officers serve the interests of the nonprofit — not the individual members of the organization.

NOTE: Both the bylaws and the conflict of interest policy must be adopted in the same meeting where the directors and officers are officially appointed.

Step 5: File the Alaska Articles of Incorporation

To register your nonprofit, you will need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the State of Alaska.

To ensure that your nonprofit is eligible to apply for 501c3 status, in the Articles of Incorporation you must explicitly state the following:

1. Purpose:

In order to qualify for 501c3 status, the organization’s purpose must explicitly be limited to one or more of the following:

Charitable, Religious, Scientific, Educational, Literary, Fostering national/international amateur sports competition, Preventing cruelty to animals/children, Testing for public safety

2. Dissolution:

You must explicitly state what the assets of the organization will be used for, and what will happen to the assets if the organization is dissolved. 

To be eligible for 501c3 status, the assets of your organization must only ever be used for purposes approved under section 501c3. 

Section 5 of this sample IRS document provides an example of these provisions required for 501c3 eligibility. 

File the Articles of Incorporation

Option 1: File online with the state of Alaska.

File Online

– OR –

Option 2: File by mail.

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $50

State of Alaska Corporations Section
P.O. Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806

To learn more, read our Alaska Articles of Incorporation guide.

Step 6: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? An Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN), is similar to a Social Security number that individuals get from the federal government. It’s an ID number for business entities that employ others. 

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required for the following:

  • To open a business bank account for the company
  • For federal and state tax purposes
  • To hire employees for the company

How do I get an EIN? You can get an EIN from the IRS for free after forming your nonprofit. You can do it online or by mail. Check out our EIN Lookup guide for more information.

Step 7: Apply for 501c3 Status

Before a nonprofit can apply for 501c3 status it must, 

  1. Elect at least 3 directors not related to each other
  2. File the Articles of Incorporation with the required provisions (As covered in Step 5)
  3. Adopt the bylaws and conflict of interest policy
  4. Have an EIN number

Once these four conditions have been met your nonprofit can apply for 501c3 tax-exempt status by filing Form-1023 online. 

If your application is approved, the IRS will send you a determination letter stating that your organization is exempt from federal taxes under section 501c3. 

See if your nonprofit has 501c3 status in Alaska. Use our Alaska 501c3 lookup table to find all Alaska nonprofits.

FAQ: Starting Your Nonprofit

When should an organization apply for federal tax exemption?

Form 1023 must be filed within 27 months from the end of the first month your organization was created.

How long will it take for the IRS to process Form 1023/1023-EZ?

Soon after sending your application, you should receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your application. 

If your application is simple and complete, IRS will send your determination letter within 180 days for Form 1023

If you have not heard from them by that time you can call (877) 829-5500 to inquire about your application. 

State of Alaska Quick Links