How to Start a Nonprofit in Nebraska

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

Step 1: Name Your Nebraska 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 Nebraska Is Easy

Nebraska is home to 14,484 nonprofit organizations. These organizations span the spectrum from religious organizations to hospital systems to youth development organizations. Religious organizations make up the largest category of nonprofits in the state at 1,987 organizations, followed by educational institutions at 1,554 and youth development organizations at 1,229.   

Combined, Nebraska nonprofits employ 149,513 people and bring in more than $20 billion in revenue each year. They also have total assets in excess of $69 billion. 

While it is religious organizations that make up the largest number of nonprofit organizations in Nebraska, it is health organizations that bring in the most revenue. On average, nonprofit health organizations in Nebraska earn a total revenue of $9.4 billion per year. Educational institutes come in second in terms of total revenue generation, averaging $1.9 billion per year. 

Health organizations employ the largest workforce of any of the Nebraska nonprofit sectors, with 68,074 people employed. Human services organizations employ the second most (27,720 employees), and educational institutions employ the third most (19,636). 

Omaha is the most popular Nebraska city for nonprofits, with 4,911 organizations located in the Omaha metro area. Lincoln, Nebraska, comes in second with 2,894 nonprofits, followed by Grand Island with 726.

These statistics showcase that there are plenty of thriving nonprofit organizations in the state of Nebraska. If you would like to add your own Nebraska nonprofit to that list, read on for a step-by-step process that you can follow to get your organization up and running as fast as possible.  

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

One of the most important steps when forming a Nebraska nonprofit is choosing a name for your organization. Along with choosing a name that will capture the interest of potential members and donors, it’s also necessary to choose a name that will comply with Nebraska requirements. 

To learn more about naming a Nebraska nonprofit, be sure to check out our How to Name a Nonprofit in Nebraska guide. 

1. Follow state guidelines: 

Names of nonprofit companies in Nebraska must follow certain state-mandated requirements: 

  • The name must not be similar to the names of other businesses operating in Nebraska 
  • The name must not include information that is misleading regarding the purpose of the organization 
  • The name should not include organizational designations such as “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” “Incorporated,” or “Company”

You can check out the Nebraska Legislature’s official guidelines for the complete rules on naming a Nebraska-based nonprofit.

2. Make sure the name is available. You can check the availability of any name you are considering by doing a quick business name search on the State of Nebraska Website. 

3. Check if the URL is available. If you plan on creating a website for your business, it’s a good idea to make sure that the business name you choose will be available as a web domain. Even if you don’t plan on creating a website right away, it’s still a good idea to purchase the domain name ahead of time to prevent others from acquiring it. 

Once you have chosen a name and URL for your Nebraska nonprofit, you can select a professional service to complete the Nebraska nonprofit formation process for you. We highly recommend working with a business formation service that has plenty of experience and a reputation for excellent customer service. 

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Nebraska

Nonprofit organizations in Nebraska are required to nominate a registered agent for the organization. 

registered agent is an individual or business that is responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your organization, acting as your organization’s point of contact with the state. 

Registered agents for Nebraska nonprofits are required to either be an individual residing in Nebraska or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, that is authorized to do business in the state. You also have the option to select yourself as your company’s registered agent. 

Most business owners will find outsourcing registered agent responsibilities to an experienced service to be well worth the expense. 

If you need help choosing a registered agent for your organization, be sure to check out our complete guide on How to Choose a Registered Agent for Your Nebraska 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

Both Nebraska 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.

Nebraska 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 Nebraska nonprofit board of directors, read our full guide.

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

In order to apply for 501c3 status, a nonprofit organization in Nebraska is required to adopt bylaws and a conflict of interest policy. 

Bylaws are rules that outline the operating procedures of your nonprofit. Your organization’s bylaws will determine things such as its rules, protocols, and management structure. 

conflict of interest policy, meanwhile, is a collection of rules designed to ensure that any decisions made by your nonprofit’s board of directors or officers are intended to benefit the organization and not individual members. 

Both your organization’s bylaws and its conflict of interest policy must be adopted during your nonprofit’s first organizational meeting when directors and officers are officially appointed. 

Step 5: File the Nebraska Articles of Incorporation

To register your nonprofit, you will need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the State of Nebraska. Nebraska does not provide a standard Articles of Incorporation form, so you must draft your own.

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

OPTION 1: Upload PDF Online With the Nebraska Secretary of State

Upload Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Read Requirements

State Filing Cost: $25 online and $30 by mail (Nonrefundable)

Mailing Address:
Robert B. Evnen, Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94608
Lincoln, NE 68509

Upload Instructions: Select “forming a new entity/qualifying a foreign entity,” then select “Domestic Non-Profit Corporation.”

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

Step 6: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? Every organization in Nebraska needs to acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN), sometimes called a Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN). Your organization’s EIN will be used to identify your business entity and essentially acts as a Social Security number for your nonprofit. 

Nonprofits in Nebraska are required to have an EIN before they are able to:

  • Open a business bank account for the organization 
  • File federal and state taxes
  • Hire employees 

How do I get an EIN? You can obtain an EIN for your Nebraska nonprofit free of charge from the IRS by phone or by mail. To learn more about getting an EIN for your organization, 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 Nebraska. Use our Nebraska 501c3 lookup table to find all Nebraska 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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