How to File a Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Georgia

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Georgia is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the eight steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Georgia.

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Getting Started

To start a domestic nonprofit corporation in Georgia, you must draft your own Articles of Incorporation using these filing procedures for forming a Georgia corporation and submit them along with a completed Transmittal Information Form. This guide covers each step you must take to complete your formation documents successfully and get on the right track to forming a Georgia nonprofit.

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name
Step 2: Disclose Your Nonprofit Statement
Step 3: Choose a Registered Agent
Step 4: Confirm Any Members
Step 5: List Your Nonprofit’s Principal Office Address
Step 6: Provide Any Additional Attachments
Step 7: List Your Incorporator Information
Step 8: File Formation Documents

(Check out our other guides for a look at how to start a nonprofit organization or how to file articles of incorporation in other states.)

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to drafting the Georgia Articles of Incorporation is to list your organization’s name in article one. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Georgia:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Georgia, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name must include “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” “limited,” or an abbreviation of one of those words.
  • Your nonprofit’s name must be less than 80 characters.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include words like “bank” or “banking” without written approval from the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include words like “insurance,” “fidelity,” or “assurance” without written approval from the state’s Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.

Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Georgia, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Georgia.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

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

Web and Social Media Search
A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as 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 2: Disclose Your Nonprofit Statement

Your Articles of Incorporation must include this exact phrase: “The corporation is organized pursuant to the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code.”

Step 3: Choose a Registered Agent

registered agent is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in Georgia. An individual, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC) may fill this role. A registered agent’s responsibilities include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity.

Requirements for this section include:

  • Your corporation can’t serve as its own registered agent.
  • The address provided for the registered agent can’t be a P.O. Box address.
  • Your registered agent must sign the formation document before you file it with the state.

Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide.

Step 4: Confirm Any Members

Confirm whether or not your nonprofit will have members by including one of the following phrases:

  • “The corporation will have members.”
  • “The corporation will not have members.”

Step 5: List Your Nonprofit’s Principal Office Address

List the mailing address to your nonprofit’s principal office. If you don’t have a physical address, you can use a P.O. Box address or your registered agent’s address in this section.

Step 6: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional statements with your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation related to the distribution of assets upon its dissolution, its board of directors, and its purpose.

Here’s what you need to know to correctly disclose this information:

Outline the Distribution of Assets Upon Dissolution

Describe how the nonprofit corporation’s assets will be distributed upon its dissolution.

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit must distribute its assets upon dissolution to approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to the sixth section of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) suggested language for corporations and associations.

Name Your Board of Directors

Name your initial board of directors as well as their street addresses. To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you are required to name at least three directors. If you have more than three directors to list, include an attachment with the names and addresses of each additional director.

To name your initial board of directors, follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Georgia article.

List Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

Your organization’s purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status:

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

Step 7: List Your Incorporator Information

Each incorporator — those who complete and submit the Articles of Incorporation — must sign the document and list their mailing address.

Step 8: File Formation Documents

There are three ways to file your Articles of Incorporation in Georgia: online, by mail, or in person.

File the Georgia Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the Georgia Corporations Division eCorp Website

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File by Mail or in Person

Download Form

Use Page 3 for nonprofit corporations.

Fee: $100 online, $110 by mail or in person

Mailing Address:
Office of Secretary of State, Corporations Division
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE
Suite 313, West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334

Note: Paper filings must include a Transmittal Information Form

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Filing the Articles of Incorporation for a domestic nonprofit in Georgia costs $100 when filing online or $110 when filing by mail or in person.

How do I get a copy of my Articles of Incorporation in Georgia?

You can obtain a copy of your Articles of Incorporation through the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which typically takes about five business days for processing.

How do I find nonprofits in Georgia?

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

Georgia Nonprofit Quick Links

IRS: Information for Charities and Nonprofits
IRS: Charity – Required Provisions for Organizing Documents
IRS: Form 990 Series for Tax-Exempt Organizations
IRS: Applying for Tax-Exempt Status
IRS: 501(c)(3) Compliance Guide
US Small Business Administration: Apply for Licenses and Permits
Georgia Secretary of State
Georgia Department of Revenue
Georgia 501(c)(3) Lookup Table

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