How to Start a Nonprofit in Indiana?


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

Define your Mission and Purpose

The first step in starting a nonprofit in Indiana is to define your mission and purpose. Your mission is a statement that describes the overall goals and objectives of your organization. It should be specific, clear, and easy to understand. Your purpose, on the other hand, is a more detailed explanation of what your organization will do to achieve its mission. When defining your mission and purpose, it's important to consider the specific needs of the community you want to serve. Conducting a needs assessment can help you identify the issues that are most pressing in your area and determine how your organization can best address them.

Conduct a Feasibility Study

Before starting a nonprofit, it's important to conduct a feasibility study to determine if there is a need for your organization and if it is viable. A feasibility study should include a market analysis, a competitive analysis, and an organizational assessment. This will help you to understand the nonprofit landscape in Indiana and identify any gaps that your organization could fill.

Form a Board of Directors

Nonprofits in Indiana 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.

Incorporate your Organization

To be recognized as a nonprofit organization in Indiana, you will need to incorporate your organization. This involves filing articles of incorporation with the Indiana Secretary of State's office. The articles of incorporation are a legal document that establishes your organization as a separate entity. When incorporating your organization, you will also need to create bylaws. Bylaws are a set of rules that govern the internal operations of your organization. They should include information on the structure of your board of directors, the responsibilities of board members, and the process for holding meetings.

Obtain Tax-exempt Status

To be tax-exempt in Indiana, your organization will need to apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS. This process typically involves filing Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The process can take several months, so it's important to start it as early as possible.

Register with the State

In addition to incorporating your organization and obtaining tax-exempt status, you will also need to register with the state of Indiana. This typically involves filing annual reports and other required documents with the Indiana Secretary of State's office.

Develop a Budget

Developing a budget is an important step in starting a nonprofit in Indiana. 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.


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 Indiana. 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 Indiana. 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 Indiana can be a challenging process, but there are a number of resources available to help you. The Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network 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 Indiana 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.