How to Start a Nonprofit in New Mexico

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

Step 1: Name Your New Mexico 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 New Mexico Is Easy

There are 10,923 nonprofit organizations located in New Mexico. Combined, these organizations bring in an average yearly revenue of $9 billion and employ a total workforce of 76,704 employees. New Mexico nonprofits also own assets totaling $23 billion in value. 

New Mexico nonprofits fall into a number of different categories, including arts, culture, and humanities nonprofits, religious organizations, foundations, and numerous others. Religious organizations are the largest of these categories, with 2,051 organizations. Educational institutes are the second-largest category (1,325 organizations), and arts, culture, and humanities nonprofits are the third-largest, with 1,012. 

Religious organizations also bring in the most revenue of any New Mexico nonprofit category. On average, nonprofit religious organizations in the state generate a combined total of almost $2.3 billion per year. Nonprofit health organizations are close second with nearly $2.2 billion in combined yearly revenue, and public sector, public co-ops, and veteran organizations come in third at close to $769 million. 

Almost half of all New Mexico nonprofits (4,566) are located in Albuquerque. Santa Fe is home to the second-most New Mexico nonprofits, with 1,531 organizations. 

These numbers demonstrate that there is a thriving ecosystem of nonprofit organizations located in the Land of Enchantment. Luckily, if you would like to start your own New Mexico nonprofit, it’s a relatively simple and straightforward process. 

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

There are several important considerations to keep in mind when naming your New Mexico nonprofit. To start, you’ll want to pick a unique and appealing name that will help you attract members and donors to your organization.

Check out our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in New Mexico for more details on the brainstorming process.  

1. Follow New Mexico’s rules. It’s also necessary to choose a name that adheres to New Mexico’s business name requirements. In New Mexico, business names cannot be misleading, meaning that they should not suggest that an organization was created for any purpose other than the purpose outlined in its Articles of Incorporation. 

For a complete list of New Mexico business name requirements, read New Mexico’s Nonprofit Corporation Act

2. Do a state-level business name search. To check the availability of a business name, you can conduct a name search on the Secretary of State’s website. This will show you if any companies in New Mexico are already using the name you’ve chosen. 

3. Search for the URL. Along with checking the availability of your business name, you will also want to make sure that name is available as a web domain. This will be important if you plan to create a website for your nonprofit now or at any point in the future.

After choosing a name for your business and purchasing your web domain ahead of time before anyone else is able to purchase it, the best way to complete the process of forming your New Mexico nonprofit is to work with a business formation service. As an experienced business formation service, Northwest will help you form your nonprofit in a way that is reliable and hassle-free. 

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in New Mexico

Nonprofit organizations in New Mexico are required to nominate a registered agent for their company. A registered agent is an individual or business entity that receives legal documents on behalf of your company. 

A registered agent can be anyone who resides in New Mexico, including yourself or someone else within your company. However, most New Mexico business owners choose to work with a registered agent service due to the convenience and peace of mind that these services provide. 

For more information on choosing a registered agent for your nonprofit, be sure to check out our helpful guide on choosing a New Mexico registered agent for your 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 New Mexico 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 Mexico 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 New Mexico nonprofit board of directors, read our full guide.

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

Before your New Mexico nonprofit is able to apply for 501c3 status, your nonprofit is required to create the following documents:

  • Bylaws: Your organization’s bylaws are a list of rules that establish its operating procedures and management structure. 
  • Conflict of interest policy: This document contains rules designed to ensure that any decision made by your company’s officers or board of directors is intended to benefit the company rather than benefiting individual members. 

Both your organization’s bylaws and its conflict of interest policy should be adopted during your nonprofit’s first organizational meeting.

Step 5: File the New Mexico Articles of Incorporation

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

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 by mail

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $25

New Mexico Secretary of State
Business Services Division
325 Don Gaspar, Suite 300
Santa Fe, NM 87501

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

Step 6: Get an EIN

Nonprofit organizations in New Mexico are required to attain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) — or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN) — before they are able to: 

  • Hire employees 
  • File federal/state taxes
  • Open a business bank account for the company 

What is an EIN? You can think of an EIN as a sort of Social Security number for your business. EINs are used to identify business entities for legal/tax purposes. 

Getting an EIN for your nonprofit  You can obtain an EIN for your nonprofit company free of charge from the IRS. This can be done online or by mail. To learn more about the process, 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 New Mexico. Use our New Mexico 501c3 lookup table to find all New Mexico 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. 

State of New Mexico Quick Links