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Nonprofit management 

How to start a nonprofit in Arizona in 11 Steps [2024 Guide]

April 1, 2024

If you're looking to start a nonprofit organization in Arizona, you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog, we’ll cover everything there is to know about launching your own charity, from researching and planning to choosing a name and starting to fundraise for free.

11 steps to start a nonprofit in Arizona

Step 1. Research and Plan

When considering starting a nonprofit in Arizona from scratch, it can be hard to know where to begin. When deciding to take on the endeavor, it is important to get clear on a few fundamental things, including:

Step 2. Choose a Name

Once you’ve determined your organization’s core mission and goals, it’s time to name your nonprofit. Not only is this step in the process important for marketing and branding purposes, but it’s also a crucial part of the legal process of starting a nonprofit in Arizona. 

When deciding on your organization’s name, be sure to choose a name that:

Once you’ve found a name, be sure to search for it on the Arizona Corporation Commission website. Make sure it's not already in use by another organization in the state, and reserve it if possible.

Step 3. Recruit a leadership team

Once you’ve determined your organization name and confirmed that it is not already in use, it’s time to create a leadership team.

Identifying an Incorporator and a Board of Directors is not only a strategic decision that can help make your nonprofit a success, but it’s a required one in Arizona. 

When choosing your leadership team, be sure to select people who are trustworthy, dependable, and bring a skillset to the table. Whether they’re already a member of your organization or a trusted volunteer, they’ll help you make crucial decisions about your charity.

Step 4. Recruit a registered agent

Appointing a registered agent is a vital step when forming a nonprofit in Arizona. In essence, a registered agent acts as a reliable point of contact for legal matters. This designated individual receives important documents and official correspondence on behalf of your nonprofit, such as legal notices and tax forms. 

The registered agent must be located in Arizona and available during regular business hours to receive legal correspondence and communication.

Step 5. Incorporate your nonprofit

One of the most crucial steps in starting a nonprofit in Arizona is filing the Articles of Incorporation on the Arizona Corporation Commission website. This will officially establish your nonprofit as a legal entity in the state.

Once the Articles of Incorporation are approved, you'll receive a Certificate of Incorporation from the Arizona Corporation Commission, officially recognizing your nonprofit as a legal entity.

Step 6. Publish notice of incorporation

Unlike other states, Arizona has a few extra requirements for new nonprofits. 

If you’re starting a charity in Arizona, you’ll need to publish your Notice of Incorporation three times in a county newspaper and pay a fee of $60 to $200 for each publication.

However, Pima or Maricopa County are exempt from this requirement. 

Step 7. Draft bylaws

Next, you’ll need to call a meeting with your board to draft bylaws that align with your mission and comply with Arizona nonprofit laws.

Bylaws are the rules and procedures that govern how your nonprofit operates. They outline the structure of your organization, the responsibilities of the board and officers, how meetings will be conducted, and how decisions will be made.

Sometimes, nonprofits hire legal counsel to oversee this process, but it’s not necessary.

Step 8. Obtain an EIN

In Arizona, like in other states, nonprofits are required to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. An EIN is like your organization's social security number. It's used for tax purposes, including opening bank accounts, hiring employees, and applying for tax-exempt status. 

To get an EIN, you can apply online using the IRS Form SS-4 on the IRS website or submit it by mail. The application process is free, and you'll receive your EIN shortly upon approval. 

Step 9. Apply for tax-exempt status

Once you’ve created your bylaws, you’ll need to apply for both federal and state tax exemption.

Step 10. Start fundraising

Once you’ve filed all of the appropriate forms and established the necessary regulatory foundation for your nonprofit, it’s time to start fundraising. 

First, build a fundraising plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and tactics. Plus, be sure to consider how you’ll cultivate donor relationships. Then, Put your fundraising plan into action by launching campaigns, events, and appeals to solicit donations and support. Keep track of your fundraising efforts and evaluate their effectiveness over time.

One of the best ways to start your nonprofit, and begin bringing in funds and connecting with donors, is by using a free all-in-one donation platform, designed specifically for charities. Unlike other platforms, Zeffy offers free marketing and engagement tools, event ticketing and management, raffle and auction tools, and so much more — without charging nonprofits a cent.

So not only can nonprofits start fundraising in minutes, but they don’t have to pay any upfront, monthly, or hidden fees, ever. In fact, over 10,000 nonprofits use and love Zeffy for its powerful but simple —and always free—software designed to help make the world a better place.

Step 11. Stay Compliant

As a legal nonprofit in the state of Arizona, you’ll need to remain compliant with federal and state rules and regulations throughout the year. This includes:

Learn how this Arizona nonprofit raised over $200k for free

Outreach360, an Arizona nonprofit dedicated to supporting the educational opportunities of students in Latin America, has been serving the community for almost 30 years. Throughout its operations, Outreach360 has always sought charitable contributions from supporters in order to support its mission: donations made to their charity help a student learn English and experience a professional setting in order to become a well-rounded global citizen.

Given that contributions from supporters are one of the most fundamental parts of their fundraising strategy, Outreach360 was in search of a powerful fundraising platform. Mainly, Outreach360 wanted to be able to create a custom donation form that they could embed right on their website, so visitors could easily make a contribution from the homepage. Plus, they wanted to give donors lots of flexibility with their gift: they wanted to offer supporters the ability to donate one time or commit to a recurring donation. 

However, all of the fundraising platforms they found were extremely expensive: many had upfront costs, processing fees, and other costs associated with additional features and services. But when Outreach360 found Zeffy, everything changed.

With Zeffy, the completely free fundraising platform, they were able to create the custom donation form of their dreams, With custom branding, questions, donation amounts, and more, — plus the ability to offer flexible payment methods — they were able to accept donations for free. In fact, with Zeffy, Outreach360 saved over $10,000 in fees.

Since using the completely free platform, Outreach360 has raised $216,700 for its programs to date.

How to start a nonprofit in Arizona FAQs

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Arizona?

The cost of starting a nonprofit in Arizona can vary. However, there are a few common costs to be aware of:

How do I start a nonprofit organization in AZ?

To start a nonprofit organization in Arizona, follow these key steps:

How do I start a nonprofit from nothing?

Starting a nonprofit organization with no money requires strategic planning. To cut down on costs, consider: 

What is the easiest nonprofit to start?

The "easiest" nonprofit to start depends on a few different factors. In general, Some types of nonprofits may require less initial investment or paperwork, while others may be more complex to establish.

However, here are a few examples of relatively simple nonprofit ideas:

Start fundraising for free with Zeffy

Whether you’re a brand new nonprofit looking to get your fundraising up and running, or an established one looking for new tools and features to make even more impact, Zeffy is one of the best all-in-one solutions for all of your nonprofit needs.

From event tracking and management to marketing and engagement tools, custom donation forms, and even the ability to create an online shop or nonprofit membership association, Zeffy offers everything you need without charging a single fee.

Simple and powerful — and packed with free support whenever you need it — Zeffy ensures that your donor’s gifts are going right to the cause, and nowhere else.

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