How to Start a Nonprofit in Arizona?


Starting a nonprofit organization in Arizona can be a rewarding experience for those who are passionate about a cause and want to make a difference in their community. However, starting a nonprofit also requires a significant amount of planning, research, and paperwork. In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to take to start a nonprofit in Arizona.

Research and Plan

Before starting a nonprofit, it's important to research the needs of your community and identify a specific cause or mission for your organization. This could be anything from providing assistance to low-income families, promoting education, or protecting the environment. It's important to identify a specific need that your organization will address, as this will make it easier to attract donors, volunteers, and board members. It's also important to research existing nonprofits in your area that may be working towards similar goals, and to consider how your organization will be different and unique. By understanding the landscape of existing nonprofits, you can ensure that your organization fills a gap and is not duplicating services. You should also create a plan for your nonprofit, including details about the organization's structure, staffing, budget, and fundraising strategy. Having a clear plan in place will make it easier to attract donors, volunteers, and board members. This plan should also include a mission statement, a description of your target population, and a summary of the programs and services your organization will offer.

Choose a Name and Register with the State

Once you have a plan in place, the next step is to choose a name for your nonprofit and register it with the state of Arizona. Choose a unique and not already-in-use. You can check the availability of the name by searching the Arizona Corporation Commission's website. You should also make sure that the name you choose does not infringe on any existing trademarks. You will also need to register your nonprofit as a corporation with the Arizona Corporation Commission. This process includes filing articles of incorporation, paying a filing fee, and obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This EIN will be used for all financial transactions, tax compliance, and legal matters.

Obtain Tax-Exempt Status

In order to be considered a nonprofit organization, you must obtain tax-exempt status from the IRS. This can be done by filing an application for tax-exempt status, Form 1023. The application process can be complex and time-consuming, so it's recommended that you seek the assistance of a lawyer or accountant to help you through the process. This application will require information about your organization, including its mission, activities, and financials. It will also require a detailed description of how your organization will operate and how it will benefit the public. Once your application is approved, your nonprofit will be exempt from federal income tax and may also be eligible for state sales and property tax exemptions. It's important to note that obtaining tax-exempt status does not automatically make your organization tax-deductible for donors. It is important to check with the IRS and your state on the specifics of tax-deductible status

Create Bylaws and Hold Organizational Meeting

Once your nonprofit is registered with the state and has obtained tax-exempt status, the next step is to create bylaws for your organization. Bylaws are a set of rules that govern the operation of your nonprofit, including the responsibilities of board members, the process for holding meetings, and the procedures for making decisions. Bylaws should be written in accordance with state laws, and should be reviewed and approved by your board of directors. You will also need to hold an organizational meeting, during which the board of directors will be elected and the bylaws will be adopted. This meeting should be well-planned and well-documented, as it sets the foundation for the organization's future operations.

Apply for Grants and Fundraise

Once your nonprofit is up and running, you will need to start raising funds to support your organization. This can be done through a variety of means, including applying for grants, hosting fundraisers, and soliciting donations from individuals and businesses. It's important to research the various funding opportunities available, such as government grants, foundation grants, and corporate sponsorships, and tailor your fundraising efforts to the specific needs of your organization. It's also important to create a fundraising plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and budget. This plan should include a list of potential donors and a schedule of fundraising activities.

Maintain Compliance

Starting a nonprofit organization also entails maintaining compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. This includes filing annual reports, keeping accurate financial records, and ensuring that your organization is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. This includes, but not limited to, compliance with state charity registration and reporting requirements, compliance with IRS regulations, and compliance with state and federal employment laws. It's important to stay informed about the laws and regulations that apply to your organization, and to seek the advice of legal and accounting professionals as necessary. Failure to comply with laws and regulations can result in penalties, fines, or even revocation of tax-exempt status. It's also important to keep accurate financial records, including income and expenses, and to have an independent audit or review of your financials at least once a year. This will help ensure that your organization is transparent and accountable to donors, regulators, and the public.


To summarize, forming a nonprofit organization in Arizona takes much preparation, study, and paperwork. You may, however, start a nonprofit that has a positive impact on your community by following the steps outlined in this article. Researching your community's needs, identifying a specific cause or mission, developing a plan, choosing a name and registering with the state, obtaining tax-exempt status, creating bylaws and holding an organizational meeting, applying for grants and fundraising, and complying with state and federal laws and regulations are all essential. If you take the right approach, your organization may be able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the individuals it serves.