How to Start a Nonprofit in Utah

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

Step 1: Name Your Utah 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 Utah Is Easy

Utah is an excellent state to start a nonprofit. There are plenty of groups in Utah that can benefit from the unique offerings of nonprofit organizations, which focus on fulfilling a mission or offering public benefits instead of profit generation. The types of nonprofits in Utah vary based on what groups they serve, which is why you will find a wide variety of organizations in the state — including religious, educational, humanities, arts, social clubs, and more. 

There are more than 11,000 nonprofits in Utah. Altogether, these organizations employ over 120,000 individuals and earn more than $20 billion in revenue. They have assets in excess of $42 billion. 

Unsurprisingly, the majority of nonprofits in Utah are in its biggest population center, Salt Lake City. There are more than 5,000 nonprofits in Salt Lake City that employ more than 88,000 people. These organizations generate more than $16 million in revenue each year. 

Ogden has the next largest number of nonprofits in Utah, with just over 1,800 in the city. These organizations employ over 11,000 people and generate more than $650,000 in revenue annually. Provo is right behind Ogden, with a little more than 1,700 nonprofits calling it home. 

These nonprofits employ more than 9,000 people and generate more than $780,000 per year. 

The biggest nonprofits in Utah based on revenue are:

  • IHC Health Services
  • SelectHealth
  • Western Governors University
  • VolkswagenStiftung

When it comes to the most numerous types of nonprofits in the state, foundations lead the list at a little over 1,600. Educational institutions are right behind, with a little over 1,500. Next is arts, culture, and humanities, with just over 1,000 of these nonprofits in the state. 

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

Deciding on the name of your nonprofit is the first step when starting your organization. You’ll want to prioritize a name that is easy to search for by potential donors and members, but you should also make sure the name complies with the state’s naming requirements. 

For more information, read our guide: How to Name a Nonprofit in Utah.

Does the name meet state requirements? There is no requirement to include an organizational designation such as “Company,” “Incorporated,” or something similar in your nonprofit’s name, though it can use such words if desired. The name must also not imply that it’s formed for any reasons other than those stated in its Articles of Incorporation.

For a complete list of naming rules, check out the state’s official guidelines.

Is the name available in Utah? Ensure you can use the name you want by conducting a name search on the website. 

Is the URL available? It’s a good idea to verify that the name you want to use is available as a web domain even if you are not planning on creating a website immediately. In the future, there is a strong chance you will want to use the URL.

With the above task completed, you can determine if you want to use a professional service to form your nonprofit with the state of Utah. Our favorite choice is:

Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Utah

All nonprofits are required to designate a registered agent in the state of Utah.

What is a registered agent? This is the person or organization you designate to receive legal documents from the state pertaining to your nonprofit. Your Utah registered agent is the point of contact you pick to deal with official state communications. 

Who can be your registered agent? The person or organization you choose must be a resident of Utah or a registered agent service. It can also be someone in your organization you trust, or you can even nominate yourself. 

Have questions about choosing your registered agent? Read our guide on Utah nonprofit registered agents to learn more.

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 Utah 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.

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

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

Your nonprofit must have the following two documents before applying for 501c3 status:

  1. Bylaws
  2. Conflict of interest policy

What are bylaws? Bylaws are the rules governing the operation of the organization.

What is a conflict of interest policy? A conflict of interest policy is a list of rules that ensure the board of directors or officers make decisions based on the best interests of the organization, not individuals. 

NOTE: Both the bylaws and conflict of interest policy must be adopted by the organization during the first official meeting where directors and officers are officially appointed.

Step 5: File the Utah Articles of Incorporation

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

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: File Online With the State of Utah

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File by Mail, by Fax, or In Person

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $30

Mailing Address:
Utah Division of Corporations & Commercial Code
P.O. Box 146705
Salt Lake City Utah 84114-6705

Fax: (801) 530-6438

To learn more, read our How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Utah guide.

Step 6: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? EIN stands for “Employer Identification Number” and is also commonly known as a Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN). It’s used by the IRS and other establishments to identify your nonprofit in a similar way that a Social Security number is used to identify an individual. 

Why do I need an EIN? 

  • For opening a business bank account
  • For federal and state tax purposes
  • To hire employees

How do I get an EIN? You can get one for free from the IRS after you form the nonprofit either online or by mail. For more information, read 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 Utah. Use our Utah 501c3 lookup table to find all Utah 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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