How to Start a Nonprofit in Mississippi

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

Step 1: Name Your Mississippi 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 Mississippi Is Easy

Mississippi is home to a large number of nonprofit organizations. As of April 2023, there are 15,133 nonprofits located in Mississippi — a number that continues to grow every year. 

Nonprofit organizations are a big part of the Mississippi economy as well, generating more than $11 billion in combined revenue each year and employing a total of 84,577 people. Mississippi nonprofit organizations also own assets totaling $25 billion in value. 

The North Mississippi Medical Center, St Andrew’s Episcopal School, and the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation are just a few of the larger and more well-known nonprofits located in Mississippi, but there are dozens of different nonprofit categories in the state. This includes categories such as religious organizations, foundations, housing providers and shelters, and educational institutions. 

Educational institutions make up the largest category of nonprofits in Mississippi, accounting for 3,190 of Mississippi’s 15,133 nonprofit organizations. This is followed by religious organizations in second with 2,509 organizations and human service organizations in third with 1,096 organizations. 

However, health organizations generate the most revenue, bringing in a combined total of nearly $4.4 billion per year. Public sector, public co-ops, and veteran organizations belong in the second-largest nonprofit category in terms of revenue generation, generating just under $2.8 billion. This is followed by educational institutions in third place with over $1.1 billion in revenue per year. 

With all this in mind, if you’re ready to form a nonprofit in Mississippi, we’re here to help. Fortunately, forming a nonprofit organization in the state is a relatively straightforward process. 

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

Choosing a name for your new company is an essential step in the process of forming a Mississippi nonprofit. In addition to being a key part of your company’s branding, you will also be required to have a name chosen before you are able to file your company with the state. 

To learn more about the important factors to consider when naming your nonprofit company, check out our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Mississippi.

Mississippi Business Name Requirements 

Mississippi has several requirements regarding allowable business names, including requirements such as: 

  • The name must be distinguishable from the name of any other business located in Mississippi 
  • The name cannot use language that leads the public to believe the company exists for a purpose other than the purpose outlined in its articles of incorporation 
  • The name need not include any organizational designations (such as “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” “Incorporated,” or “Company”) 

Refer to Mississippi Code Title 79 for a comprehensive set of rules on naming a Mississippi nonprofit. 

How to Check if a Name Is Available for Use

To confirm that there isn’t already another Mississippi company using the name that you’ve chosen, you can conduct a name search on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website. 

It’s also a good idea to do a search to confirm that your business name is available as a web domain. This will be important if you plan to create a website for your nonprofit and would like the website’s URL to be the same as your company name. 

Once you’ve chosen a name for your nonprofit, the next step is to file your company with the State of Mississippi. The simplest and most reliable way to complete this process is to enlist the help of a business formation service with exceptional service and decades of experience. 

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Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Mississippi

Every organization located in Mississippi — both for-profit and nonprofit companies — is required to nominate a registered agent. 

registered agent serves as the point of contact between a company and the state. The registered agent you choose will be responsible for receiving and forwarding important documents sent to your company from the state. 

Anyone who is a legal resident of Mississippi is eligible to act as the registered agent for your company, and there are no rules preventing you from choosing yourself or someone else within the company. 

Business entities operating in Mississippi can be nominated as registered agents as well; one popular choice for Mississippi business owners is to work with a registered agent service

To learn more about choosing a registered agent for your organization, be sure to check out our complete guide on finding a Mississippi nonprofit 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

While Mississippi 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.

Mississippi 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 Mississippi 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 company will be required to first adopt bylaws and a conflict of interest policy. 

What are bylaws? Bylaws are a set of rules that dictate your nonprofit’s operating procedures, covering factors such as meeting frequency and format, how board members are elected, and officer responsibilities. 

What is a conflict of interest policy? A conflict of interest policy contains rules that are designed to ensure that decisions made by your nonprofit’s officers or its board members are in the best interest of the company rather than calculated to benefit individual members. 

Your nonprofit’s bylaws, as well as its conflict of interest policy, should be adopted during the company’s first organizational meeting, at the same time that directors and officers are officially appointed. 

Step 5: File the Mississippi Articles of Incorporation

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

To ensure that your nonprofit is eligible to apply for 501c3, 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

File online with the state of Mississippi

File Online

State Filing Cost: $50

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

Step 6: Get an EIN

Acquiring an Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, from the IRS is a necessary step in the process of forming a nonprofit company in Mississippi. Without an EIN, your nonprofit will not be able to hire employees, file taxes, or open a business bank account.

What is an EIN? An EIN is a nine-digit number that is used to identify business entities, much in the same way that a Social Security number is used to identify individuals. 

How do I request an EIN? You can get an EIN for your Mississippi nonprofit at no cost by filling out a request form and sending it to the IRS. This can be done either online or by mail. Check out our EIN Lookup article for more information on this process.  

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