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Nonprofit management 

How to start a nonprofit in Florida in 9 steps [2024]

March 26, 2024

Starting a nonprofit in Florida is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also requires a lot of effort and work.

If you’re looking to start a nonprofit in Florida but don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered. In this blog, we’ll explain exactly how to do it — from choosing your name and applying for tax-exempt status to starting your fundraising efforts from scratch.

9 steps to start your nonprofit organization in Florida

Step 1. Choose an organization name 

Naming your nonprofit organization is one of the most crucial parts of starting a nonprofit in Florida. Like in any state, when choosing your nonprofit name, be sure to consider how the name:

Your name must also include the word “Corp.” or “Inc.”

Once you’ve decided on your organization's name, you’ll need to ensure that it’s not already in use by another organization in Florida. To check the availability of your chosen name, visit the Florida Division of Corporations’ website. 

Step 2. Recruit an Incorporator and a Board of Directors

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 Florida. 

Nonprofits must recruit one Incorporator who will be responsible for signing the Articles of Incorporation. And, you must assemble a board of at least three directors who will help guide your nonprofit through strategic decision-making. 

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 3. Identify a registered agent

Appointing a registered agent is a vital step when forming a nonprofit in Florida. 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 the state of Florida and available during regular business hours in order to receive legal correspondence and communication.

Step 4. File the Articles of incorporation

One of the most crucial steps in starting a nonprofit in Florida is filing the Articles of Incorporation. By filing with the Florida Division of Corporations, you’ll officially establish your nonprofit as a legal entity. 

This document typically includes your nonprofit's name, purpose, duration (which is usually perpetual), initial registered agent, and other basic information required by the state. You can file online or by mail (which costs around $35).

Step 5. Obtain an EIN

In Florida, 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 6. Create bylaws

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

Step 7. Apply for federal and state tax exception

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

Step 8. Obtain other permits

Once you’ve completed all the necessary filings and abided by all the necessary rules, you’ll need to consider whether you need any other permits.

For example, if your nonprofit intends to use games of chance, such as lotteries, in its fundraising efforts, you’ll need to acquire special permitting.

For more information, check out the 2012 Florida Statutes (Chapter 849: Gambling). The rules and regulations vary depending on the location and type of gambling. 

Step 9. 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. 

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.

Learn how this Florida nonprofit raised over $155,000 for free

Eat Better, Live Better, a local Florida nonprofit, is dedicated to preventing, reversing, and reducing childhood obesity and other dietary-related illnesses through healthy foods and nutrition education. Like many nonprofits that are passionate about their cause, Eat Better was always looking for new, cost-effective ways to spread the word about its mission and bring in more donations to support its programs and activities.

However, when searching for an online donation platform, they faced several challenges. Most platforms weren’t user-friendly, had limited customization options, and came with hefty price tags. They found that most platforms charge upfront fees, annual or monthly costs, and charged per transaction, meaning that less money would go to making a difference in their community.

That’s when Eat Better found Zeffy — the all-in-one, free donation software for nonprofits. Zeffy offered everything that Eat Better needed: a customizable solution for accepting donations online and reaching new supporters. With highly rated customer service and user-friendly tools and features, Zeffy was the perfect fit for their team and mission.

Since using Zeffy, Eat Better has raised over $155,500 and saved almost $8,000 in fees with its custom donation form.

How to start a nonprofit in Florida - Frequently Asked Questions

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

Starting a nonprofit in Florida involves various costs. Here's a quick breakdown:

To reduce upfront expenses, be sure to use completely free fundraising software like Zeffy. With no upfront costs, hidden fees, or even processing fees, Zeffy is the perfect solution for any nonprofit looking to start making an impact while spending as little as possible.

Can one person start a nonprofit in Florida?

While one person can start a nonprofit in Florida, you’ll need to have at least one Incorporator and at least three directors. 

How to start a nonprofit organization in Florida with no money?

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

What are the requirements for a nonprofit board in Florida?

When recruiting your nonprofit board in Florida, you’ll need to keep in mind a few requirements:

Launch a successful Florida nonprofit 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.

Related reading:

Starting a nonprofit in the United States?

How to Start a Nonprofit Organization with No Money in 6 Steps

How to Start a Nonprofit: A Definitive Guide [2024]

How to Start a Nonprofit in North Carolina [2024 Guide]

How to Start a Nonprofit in Texas in 10 Steps [2024]

How to Start a Nonprofit in California [2024 Guide]

How to start a nonprofit in Michigan in 9 steps [2024]