How to Name a Nonprofit in Florida

Choosing a name for your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is the first step in our complete guide, How to Start a Nonprofit in Florida. One of the most important decisions any founder will make is selecting the right name. We’re here to help with our full guide to choosing, validating, and registering a Florida nonprofit name in four easy steps.

Check out our other guides for a look at How to Start a Nonprofit Organization or How to Name a Nonprofit in other states.

Recommended: Use our Business Name Generator to brainstorm hundreds of catchy names (with available URLs) for your nonprofit.

Name Your Nonprofit in 4 Easy Steps

Naming your Florida nonprofit is easy. Just follow these four simple steps to secure the best name for your 501(c)(3).

Step 1: Choose the Right Name for Your Nonprofit
Step 2: Follow the Nonprofit Naming Rules in Florida
Step 3: Check if Your Business Name is Available
Step 4: Register Your Nonprofit Name

Use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to see if your nonprofit’s name is already in use.

Step 1: Choose the Right Name for Your Nonprofit

Selecting the right name for your organization is an important task. In order to choose the name that best represents your nonprofit’s mission and purpose, we recommend following these guidelines:

  • Be specific. A nonprofit’s name should be direct and specific enough to convey its mission. Avoid using vague words or terms that could confuse donors and prospective clients about your organization’s purpose.
  • Make it memorable. Memorability is essential when selecting a name for any business. For nonprofits, selecting a name that will stick in the minds of those who come across it will not only improve your organization’s exposure among donors and volunteers but also make it easier for potential clients to find your services.
  • Keep it professional. Nonprofits rely heavily on their public image in order to attract donors or clients who may use their services — and their first impression will stem from your organization’s name. For this reason, your nonprofit needs a professional name that communicates a serious dedication to its mission and purpose.
  • Make it emotional. Whether your organization provides services for animals, displaced persons, or any other community, emotion and charity have a strong bond. Selecting a name that appeals to the emotions of both donors and clients will help build trust as well as your organization’s credibility.

We recommend selecting at least four to five names that fit your criteria before you start researching their availability. This approach will increase your chances of securing a unique and available name.

Recommended: Use our Business Name Generator to help you find an available and unique name in your state.

Step 2: Follow the Nonprofit Naming Rules in Florida

Corporation Name Requirements

Your Florida nonprofit name must adhere to the guidelines laid out in Section 617.0401 of the Not For Profit Corporation Act:

(a) Must contain the word “corporation” or “incorporated” or the abbreviation “Corp.” or “Inc.” or words or abbreviations of like import in language as will clearly indicate that it is a corporation instead of a natural person, unincorporated association, or partnership. The name of the corporation may not contain the word “company” or its abbreviation “Co.”

(b) May contain the word “cooperative” or “co-op” only if the resulting name is distinguishable from the name of any corporation, agricultural cooperative marketing association, or nonprofit cooperative association existing or doing business in this state under part I of chapter 607, chapter 618, or chapter 619.

(c) May not contain language stating or implying that the corporation is organized for a purpose other than that permitted in this act and its articles of incorporation.

(d) May not contain language stating or implying that the corporation is connected with a state or federal government agency or a corporation chartered under the laws of the United States.

(e) Must be distinguishable from the names of all other entities or filings that are on file with the Division of Corporations, except fictitious name registrations pursuant to s. 865.09, general partnership registrations pursuant to s. 620.8105, and limited liability partnership statements pursuant to s. 620.9001 which are organized, registered, or reserved under the laws of this state. A name that is different from a name of another entity or filing due to any of the following is not considered distinguishable:

  1. A suffix.
  2. A definite or indefinite article.
  3. The word “and” and the symbol “&.”
  4. The singular, plural, or possessive form of a word.
  5. A recognized abbreviation of a root word.
  6. A punctuation mark or a symbol.

Putting It Into Practice

Most nonprofits in Florida are organized as corporations, but you can choose to organize a nonprofit in four other ways: an unincorporated association, a trust, an association, or a limited liability company (LLC). Each option has specific naming requirements you must follow.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the requirements for naming a nonprofit corporation.

Incorporating is the most common way to organize a nonprofit. While naming rules for corporations vary by state, some requirements apply nationwide. State standards in Florida include:

  • Your corporation’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Florida, including any reserved names.
  • Your corporation’s name must include “corporation,” “incorporated,” “Corp,” or “Inc.”
  • Your corporation’s name can’t include any words that imply it is related to a government agency.
  • Your corporation’s name can’t include the word “company” or “Co.”

Tax Exemption Requirements

If you plan to file for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), pay close attention to the wording you use in your nonprofit’s name. Any words that imply a political or lobbying affiliation may hinder your ability to file for 501(c)(3) status.

Step 3: Check If Your Business Name Is Available

After you chose one or several name options for your nonprofit, you’ll need to make sure it’s available. Every nonprofit must have a distinguishable name so it’s helpful to confirm the availability of your desired name prior to incorporation.

The top four searches you should perform include:

Florida Business Entity Search

To operate a nonprofit corporation in Florida, its name must be unique. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Florida Business Entity Search tool.

Domain Name Search

We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don’t plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Federal Trademark Search

You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to incorporate your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

If you need help with getting a logo for your nonprofit, try branding your business with our Free Logo Generator! Get a unique logo in minutes and start building your nonprofit’s brand immediately.

Web and Social Media Search

A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors or clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 4: Register Your Nonprofit Name

After you choose your nonprofit’s name and confirm its availability, the next step involves registering the organization’s name. You have a few options to achieve a name registration:

Recommended: Read our full, step-by-step guide on How to Register a Business Name in Florida.

File for a Name Reservation

In Florida, domestic nonprofit corporations are not required to file for a name reservation before incorporation. However, reserving a name can prove beneficial — especially if you aren’t ready to incorporate, but want to ensure the availability of your chosen name.

To file a name reservation in the state of Florida:

  • Mail in a letter that includes the name you wish to reserve as well as the name and address of the applicant and a $35 filing fee to the Secretary of State

Name reservations for nonprofit corporations in Florida last 120 days and can be renewed once it expires.

Form a Corporation

Incorporating is the most common way to organize a nonprofit and, once you select a name, it’s the next step in making your nonprofit official. Forming a corporation in Florida involves a few easy steps:

  1. Name Your Corporation
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. Choose Your Corporation’s Initial Directors and Share Structure
  4. File the Formation Documents
  5. Get an EIN

File for a DBA Name

Filing a fictitious name, also called a doing business as (DBA) name, in Florida allows your nonprofit to operate using a different name than its legal, registered business name. This can prove especially helpful if you want to change the name of an existing organization without filing an amendment to your Articles of Incorporation.

To learn how to file a DBA or fictitious name in Florida, check out our step-by-step guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many board members are required for a nonprofit in Florida?

In Florida, a nonprofit corporation is required to have at least three board members.

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Florida?

To start a nonprofit corporation in Florida, expect to pay $35 in filing fees for your Articles of Incorporation as well as $35 for registered agent designation. Other fees may apply at a national level.

How do I find nonprofits in Florida?

Use our handy Florida 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Florida. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

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