How to Start a Nonprofit in Idaho?


Starting a nonprofit organization in Idaho can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a complex process. This guide will provide a step-by-step overview of how to start a nonprofit in Idaho, including information on the legal requirements, funding options, and other resources that can help you get your organization up and running.

Determine your Goal

The mission of your nonprofit organization is a statement that describes the purpose and goals of your organization. It should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Your mission statement should also reflect the specific issues or causes that your organization will focus on. For example, your mission might be to provide education and support to low-income families in Idaho, or to protect the environment in the state. Your goals, on the other hand, are specific, measurable, and actionable objectives that will help you achieve your mission. These goals should be aligned with your mission and should be specific enough that you can track your progress over time. For example, if your mission is to provide education and support to low-income families, your goals might include increasing the number of families served by your organization, or improving the academic performance of the children in those families.

Research Existing Organizations

Before starting a nonprofit organization, it's important to research existing organizations that are working on similar issues in your area. This will help you to understand the landscape of the nonprofit sector in Idaho and identify any gaps that your organization could fill. You can research other nonprofits by searching online, looking at local newspapers, and talking to people who are involved in the community. When researching existing organizations, take note of their mission statements, programs, and services. Also, look at their financials, governance, and impact. This will give you a better understanding of the needs of the community and the areas where your organization can make the most impact.

Form a Board of Directors

Nonprofits in Idaho are required to have a board of directors. Your board should consist of at least three individuals who are committed to the mission of your organization and are willing to serve in a volunteer capacity. The board of directors is responsible for the governance of the organization and for ensuring that it is operating in compliance with the law. When forming your board, consider diversity, skills, and experience. The board should have a diverse group of people who bring different skills and experiences to the table. For example, having a mix of people with business, legal, or fundraising experience can be beneficial. Also, consider the representation of the community you want to serve, having a representative from the community can provide valuable insight.

File for Tax-exempt Status

To be recognized as a nonprofit organization in Idaho, you will need to file for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax-exempt status allows your organization to be exempt from paying federal income taxes, and it also allows donors to claim tax deductions for their contributions. To file for tax-exempt status, you will need to submit Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, to the IRS. The process can take several months, so it's important to start it as early as possible. You can also seek assistance from a tax professional to help you navigate the process.

Register with the State

In addition to filing for tax-exempt status with the IRS, you will also need to register with the state of Idaho. This typically involves filing articles of incorporation and bylaws with the Idaho Secretary of State's office. The articles of incorporation are a legal document that establishes your organization as a separate entity, and the bylaws are a set of rules that govern the internal operations of your organization. You can also check with the Idaho Secretary of State's office to see if there are any additional requirements for registering your organization. These might include filing annual reports, or obtaining any necessary licenses or permits.

Create a Budget

Developing a budget is an important step in starting a nonprofit in Idaho. Your budget should include projected revenue and expenses for your organization, as well as information on how you plan to raise funds. This will help you to understand the financial needs of your organization, and to plan for future growth. When creating your budget, consider the different types of expenses that your organization will incur. These might include staffing costs, rent or mortgage payments, and expenses related to programs or services that you will be offering. You should also consider funding sources such as grants, donations, and fundraising events.


Fundraising is a critical aspect of starting and maintaining a nonprofit organization. The funds raised will support the operation and programs of the organization. There are several ways to raise funds for your nonprofit, including:
  • Grant writing: Many foundations and government agencies provide funding for nonprofit organizations. Research potential funding sources and write grant proposals to apply for funding.
  • Donations: Accepting donations from individuals, businesses, and other organizations is a common way to raise funds for nonprofit organizations. You can accept donations online, by mail, or in person.
  • Fundraising events: Hosting events such as auctions, galas, or charity walks can be a great way to raise funds and raise awareness about your organization.


As a nonprofit organization, you are required to comply with a number of laws and regulations. This includes filing annual reports, complying with open meetings laws, and maintaining accurate records of your organization's finances. You should also comply with any other state-specific requirements for nonprofit organizations in Idaho. It's important to stay up to date on the latest laws and regulations related to nonprofits, and to seek guidance from legal or accounting professionals if you have any questions.

Community Outreach

Outreach is an important aspect of starting a nonprofit organization in Idaho. Consider the different ways in which you can raise awareness about your organization and its mission, such as through social media, events, and partnerships with other organizations. Building relationships with other nonprofits, community leaders, and government officials can also help to increase the visibility and impact of your organization.


Starting a nonprofit organization in Idaho can be a challenging process, but there are a number of resources available to help you. The Idaho Nonprofit Center is a great place to start and can provide you with information on funding options, legal requirements, and other resources that can help you get your organization up and running. Other resources include online guides, webinars, and workshops on nonprofit management and fundraising.


In conclusion, starting a nonprofit organization in Idaho is a process that requires careful planning and a lot of hard work, but it can be a rewarding experience that allows you to make a real difference in your community. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can set your organization up for success and ensure that it is able to meet the needs of the people you serve.