How to Start a Nonprofit in New Jersey

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

Step 1: Name Your New Jersey 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 Public Records Filing for New Business Entity
Step 6: Get a New Jersey Tax Identification Number
Step 7: Get an EIN
Step 8: Apply for 501c3

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Starting a 501c3 Nonprofit in New Jersey Is Easy

New Jersey is home to an impressive 49,856 nonprofit organizations. These organizations range from religious organizations to foundations to human service organizations and combine to generate a total average revenue of $74 billion per year. New Jersey nonprofits also employ 586,533 people and own assets totaling $167 billion in value. 

Worldwide Orphans (WWO), the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey are a few of the more popular and well-known nonprofit organizations in the state. 

The largest category of nonprofits in New Jersey consists of religious organizations, and there are 8,519 nonprofit religious organizations located in the state. Educational institutions are the second-largest category at 6,598 organizations, and foundations are the third-largest at 5,400 organizations. 

Health organizations generate by far the most revenue, bringing in a combined annual average of over $38.6 billion. This is over four times more revenue than educational institutions, which come in second with close to $8.7 billion in combined annual revenue. 

Health organizations also employ the largest workforce of any New Jersey nonprofit sector, with 217,479 employees. Human service organizations employ the second most with 118,477 employees, and educational institutions employ the third most with 114,550 employees. 

These statistics demonstrate that the Garden State is an excellent place to build a successful nonprofit. If you would like to start your own nonprofit company, we’re here to help. 

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

Coming up with the right name for your New Jersey nonprofit is an all-important first step. Your company’s name will be a cornerstone of its branding and will help potential donors and members better understand its purpose. 

For help choosing the ideal name for your nonprofit, you can read our guide on how to name a nonprofit in New Jersey

New Jersey Business Name Requirements 

New Jersey requires nonprofit companies to include one of the following terms in their business name: 

  • A New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation 
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation
  • Corp

To see the full list of requirements for naming a New Jersey nonprofit company, check out New Jersey’s official guidelines

How to Check if a Name Is Available 

To make sure that the name you are considering isn’t already in use, you will need to conduct a name search on the NJ Portal website. This will allow you to check if there are any other companies in the state that are already using the name you’ve chosen. 

Once you’ve found a name that is available, it’s a good idea to confirm that it is available as a web domain as well. This will be important when you decide to create a website for your nonprofit so you can use the company’s name as the URL.

The next step in the process of forming a New Jersey nonprofit is filing your company with the state. For this, we highly recommend working with an experienced business formation service.

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in New Jersey

Your New Jersey nonprofit will be required to nominate a registered agent. The individual or business entity that is chosen as your organization’s registered agent will act as your company’s point of contact with the state and will be responsible for receiving and forwarding important legal documents. 

Anyone who lives in New Jersey can be eligible to act as the registered agent for your New Jersey nonprofit. This includes current employees of your company as well as you, the company’s owner. Business entities that are authorized to conduct business in New Jersey can become your company’s registered agent as well, and many New Jersey nonprofit owners choose to work with these registered agent services

If you would like more information on choosing the right registered agent or registered agent service for your company, be sure to check out our complete guide on New Jersey nonprofit registered agents.

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 New Jersey 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.

New Jersey 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 New Jersey nonprofit board of directors, read our full guide.

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

Before your New Jersey nonprofit is eligible to apply for 501c3 status, it will first be required to adopt bylaws and a conflict of interest policy. 

  • Bylaws are a list of rules that outline a company’s operating procedures, including things such as the company’s mission statement, procedures for adding new members, and details regarding board meetings. 
  • A conflict of interest policy is a document that is designed to prevent officers and board members from making decisions that further their own interests rather than what is best for the company. 

Your New Jersey nonprofit’s bylaws and conflict of interest policy should both be adopted during the company’s first organizational meeting.

Step 5: File the New Jersey Public Records Filing for New Business Entity

To register your nonprofit, you will need to file a Public Records Filing for New Business Entity with the Department of Treasury.

To ensure that your nonprofit is eligible to apply for 501c3, when filing for a New Business Entity 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 Public Records Filing

OPTION 1: File Online With the New Jersey Department of Revenue and Enterprise Services

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File by Mail or In Person

Download Form

Note: The Public Records Filing is on pages 21-24 of the Business Registration packet.

State Filing Cost: $30

Mailing Address:
New Jersey Division of Revenue
P.O. Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646

Office Address:
New Jersey Division of Revenue
33 W. State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608

To learn more, read our New Jersey Articles of Incorporation guide.

Step 6: Get a New Jersey State Tax Identification Number

Within 60 days of filing as a new business entity the organization must apply for a New Jersey Taxpayer Identification Number.

File the Tax Identification Form

OPTION 1: Register Online With the New Jersey Department of Revenue and Enterprise Services

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: Register by Mail

Download Form

Note: Form NJ-REG is on pages 17-19 of the Business Registration packet.

Filing Fee: $0

Mailing Address:
New Jersey Division of Revenue
P.O. Box 252
Trenton, NJ 08646

Step 7: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? An Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is essentially a Social Security number for business entities and is used to identify your business. 

Am I required to get an EIN? New Jersey nonprofit companies must have an EIN before they are able to file federal/state taxes, open a business bank account, or hire employees. Acquiring an EIN is therefore an essential final step when forming a nonprofit organization in New Jersey. 

How to Request an EIN — You can obtain an EIN from the IRS at no charge. This can be done either by mail or online. For more info on EINs and how to get one, feel free to check out our EIN Lookup guide. 

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 Public Records Filing 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 New Jersey. Use our New Jersey 501c3 lookup table to find all New Jersey 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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