How to Start a Nonprofit in Louisiana

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

Step 1: Name Your Louisiana 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: File with the Recorder of Mortgages
Step 7: Get an EIN
Step 8: Apply for 501c3

Recommended: Start your nonprofit with Northwest for just $29 + state fees
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Starting a 501c3 Nonprofit in Louisiana Is Easy

Now that you’re thinking about starting a nonprofit, take a look at the nonprofits that are already in the state to get a good idea of which areas may be best served by your business. Right now, there are 22,855 nonprofits in Louisiana, and they employ 224,029 people. 

The majority of nonprofits are based in New Orleans, but some are also in areas like Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lafayette, and Monroe. In fact, while New Orleans has 7,384 nonprofits, each of the other cities has over 1,000:

  • Baton Rouge: 4,325
  • Shreveport: 2,150
  • Lafayette: 2,121
  • Monroe: 1,188

With that in mind, you might decide to open your nonprofit in one of these busy cities, or you could opt to open in a smaller town like Hammond or Houma.

If your organization is unable to employ anyone right away, that’s okay — 3,028 of the nonprofits in the state have less than 10 employees. However, 32 have grown so much that they employ over 1,000 people each — something your organization might aspire to. 

Additionally, the largest organizations include medical facilities and universities, with some of the largest organizations in the state including:

  • Lafayette General Health
  • Evergreen Life Services
  • Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center

Around 31 nonprofits bring in over $100 million in revenue annually, but the majority of organizations (4,386) have $250,000 in revenue or less a year. There is space for nonprofits of all sizes in Louisiana. 

Finally, consider the kind of nonprofit you want to open. There are already many educational and religious organizations, but there are fewer international-focused, social science research, or medical research nonprofits located in the state. You might choose to work in one of these underserved areas. 

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

Choosing the name of your nonprofit is arguably the most important step of the business formation process. However, it can be tricky — you’ll need a name that people can easily remember and search for, and it has to meet the state’s requirements. 

Interested in learning more? Take a look at our Louisiana nonprofit naming guide.

1. Follow the state’s naming guidelines:

There are many words your business name cannot include (unless you have special permission), such as: “bank,” “banking,” “banker,” “savings,” “trust,” “deposit,” “insurance,” “mutual,” “assurance,” “indemnity,” “casualty,” “fiduciary,” “homestead,” “building and loan,” “surety,” “security,” “guarantee,” “cooperative,” “state,” “parish,” “redevelopment corporation,” “electric cooperative,” or “credit union.”

Make sure to read through the state’s official guidelines for all the rules for naming your Louisiana-based organization.

2. Is the name available in Louisiana? Perform a name search on the State of Louisiana’s website to make sure no one is using your preferred business name. If it’s in use, you’ll have to choose something different.

3. Is the URL available for purchase? We think it’s a good idea to look up your business name and see if you can get it as a web domain (URL). Although you might not be planning to make a website today, keeping your URL reserved will prevent other people from using it. 

Once you verify that the name you want is available and are able to get a URL reserved, you can hire a professional business to help you finish the Louisiana business formation process. Our recommendation is to work with a company with a long history of excellent customer service:

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Louisiana

You’re required to nominate a registered agent to work with your nonprofit.

registered agent can be an individual resident of the state of Louisiana or a corporation authorized to work in the state. It can also be a registered agent service that has the approval to work in Louisiana. 

The purpose of this agent is to accept legal documents on behalf of your business entity and to serve as a point of contact for the state. You or someone you work with at the nonprofit may also fill this role. 

Read our guide to Louisiana nonprofit registered agents to learn more about finding and electing an agent for your organization.

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 Louisiana 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.

Louisiana also requires that the nonprofit’s officers include:

  • A president
  • A secretary
  • A treasurer

Officers can hold multiple titles if the bylaws allow for it.

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

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

Before you will become eligible for 501c3 status, you have to assemble your bylaws and conflict of interest policy.

Bylaws are rules that describe the operating procedures your nonprofit will follow. 

conflict of interest policy makes sure that any decisions made by those in power (such as the board of directors) won’t be made in a way that harms the nonprofit in order to benefit an individual. 

NOTE: During your first organizational meeting, you will need to adopt the bylaws and conflict of interest policy. At the same time, you’ll also swear in your board of directors and officers.

Step 5: File the Louisiana Articles of Incorporation

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

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 Louisiana.

File Online

– OR –

Option 2: File by mail or in-person.

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $75

Mail to:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-91257

Submit In-Person:
Secretary of State Office
8585 Archives Ave
Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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

Step 6: File with the Recorder of Mortgages

Within 30 days of filing the Articles of Incorporation you must file the following documents with your local recorder of mortgage office:

  • A Secretary of State certified copy of the Articles of Incorporation
  • A copy of the Articles of Incorporation

Step 7: Get an EIN

Now that you’ve formed your business, you need to request an EIN. 

What is an EIN? EIN stands for “Employer Identification Number” — the main number that the federal government will use to identify your nonprofit as an individual entity. It works similarly to a Social Security number and is sometimes called a Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN).

Why do you need an EIN? There are three primary reasons to get an EIN. They include:

  • Opening a bank account as the nonprofit
  • Hiring people to work for the nonprofit
  • Paying taxes as the nonprofit

If you file for your LLC online, getting an EIN is included at Otherwise, you will need to reach out to the IRS directly by mail or online. 

An EIN is free of charge via the IRS. Check out our EIN Lookup guide for more details.

Step 8: 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 Louisiana. Use our Louisiana 501c3 lookup table to find all Louisiana 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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