How to Start a Nonprofit in Kansas

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

Step 1: Name Your Kansas 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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Form Your Nonprofit

Starting a 501c3 Nonprofit in Kansas Is Easy

When you’re getting ready to start your nonprofit, it can be helpful to take a look at the state’s statistics and see which areas might be underserved. Kansas has a limited number of organizations — only 18,032 in the state. These nonprofits bring in around $17 billion in revenue and employ 142,859 people, but there is room for growth. 

The area with the most nonprofits in Kansas is Kansas City with 4,695. Other areas with nonprofits include Wichita at 3,309, Topeka with 1,750, and Manhattan with 891. 

Fewer organizations mean lower employment — though many are employed by nonprofits, only 19 of them are home to 1,000 employees or more. At least 275 of the organizations employ between 101 and 1,000 people, though. 

Some of the largest organizations in the state include:

  • Greater Wichita YMCA
  • SKIL Resource Center
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • University of Kansas Memorial Corporation

In general, the largest employers tend to include religious organizations, developmentally disabled centers, hospital systems, general hospitals, and senior residential care facilities. 

Being a large employer often means bringing in a high amount of revenue. A total of 25 of the nonprofits in the state bring in over $100 million annually, but the majority of nonprofits earn $250,000 or less each year. 

In Kansas, social science research, scientific research, and medical research all have the fewest nonprofits. Civil rights and public safety organizations are also few in number. Other areas with fewer than 1,000 nonprofits include youth development organizations, animal organizations, disease-focused nonprofits, crime and legal aid organizations, and food and agriculture nonprofits. 

With that in mind, you may want to work in an industry that you can quickly find a niche in, so you can start helping people in the state. 

To start a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization in Kansas, you must first start a nonprofit in Kansas 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 Kansas Nonprofit

To get started with your nonprofit, you’ll need to choose a name that complies with the Kansas naming requirements. Choose a name that members and donors can search for easily, so you can build your business quickly.

Find out more about naming your nonprofit with our guide: How to Name a Nonprofit in Kansas.

1. Follow the state’s naming guidelines:

  • You need to include one of the following words in your nonprofit’s name.
    • Association 
    • Church
    • College
    • Company
    • Corporation
    • Club
    • Foundation
    • Fund
    • Incorporated
    • Institute 
    • Union
    • Society
    • Syndicate
    • University
    • Limited
    • Co. 
    • Corp.
    • Inc. 
    • Ltd. 
  • The above words or abbreviations in other languages if they are written in Roman characters or letters.

You’ll see more about the specific, official guidelines here.

2. Is the preferred business name available? Do a name search on the State of Kansas website to see if the name you want for your business is available.

3. Can you get the business name as a URL? Many businesses immediately establish a web domain. It’s helpful to see if you can get your business name as a URL — if you can’t, you may want to choose a different one. 

Once you find a URL, it’s a wise idea to buy it right away, even if you don’t want a website right now. Doing this prevents others from using your business’s name for their websites. 

Once you have your URL and business name together, you can reach out to a professional business that helps finalize the business formation process. Our suggestion is:

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Resident Agent in Kansas

In Kansas, there is a requirement to nominate a resident agent for your nonprofit, known in most states as a registered agent.

A resident agent can be any individual resident or corporation authorized to perform business in the state. Many nonprofits work with a registered agent service, but the resident agent can also be a member of your nonprofit or even yourself. 

The point of a resident agent is to have one individual or corporation responsible for accepting legal documents. This agent will be the main contact point for the state. 

If you’re not sure who to choose for a resident agent, check out our guide on choosing a registered agent for your Kansas nonprofit.

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

While Kansas only requires nonprofit corporations to have at least one board member, the IRS requires nonprofits to have at least three directors to be eligible for 501c3 status. The majority of directors should not be related to each other.

Kansas does not have any specific officer requirements, meaning titles are left up to the nonprofit to determine in its bylaws.

To learn more about electing a Kansas nonprofit board of directors, read our full guide.

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

Before you can become eligible for 501c3 status, you must assemble both the bylaws and conflict of interest policies for your nonprofit. 

Bylaws and conflict of interest policies are important for your organization. Your bylaws go over how your nonprofit is going to be run and put rules in place. The conflict of interest policy specifies that those in power at the company, like the board of directors or officers, can only make decisions that benefit the nonprofit, not those that benefit them individually. 

NOTE: When you set up your board of directors and officers during your first organizational meeting, you’ll also need to adopt these two documents. 

Step 5: File the Kansas Articles of Incorporation

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

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 Kansas.

File Online

– OR –

Option 2: File by mail, in-person, or by fax.

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $25

Mail or Deliver In-Person to:
Kansas Secretary of State
Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 S.W. 10th Ave.
Topeka, KS 66612-1594

Fax: (785) 296-4570

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

Step 6: Get an EIN

For the government to recognize your business as an individual entity, you’ll need to obtain an EIN from the IRS.

What is an EIN? An EIN is also known as your Employer Identification Number or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN). This number is granted to a new business entity and works similarly to an individual Social Security number. It establishes that the business is its own entity for tax purposes.

You need an EIN to do several things for your business, such as opening a bank account, paying taxes to the state or federal government, or hiring people to work with your nonprofit.

To get one, all you need to do is form your company. Then, reach out to the IRS by mail or online to request the EIN. It’s totally free to do so. 

For more information, check out our EIN Lookup guide. 

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 Kansas. Use our Kansas 501c3 lookup table to find all Kansas 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. 

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