How to Start a Nonprofit in New Jersey?


Nonprofits play a vital role in society by addressing pressing social issues and providing much-needed services to communities. Starting a nonprofit in New Jersey can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires a significant amount of planning, research, and effort. In this blog, we will guide you through the process of starting a nonprofit in New Jersey, from researching the best legal structure and obtaining tax-exempt status to creating a budget and developing a fundraising plan.

Research and Planning

The first step in starting a nonprofit in New Jersey is to conduct thorough research on the issue you wish to address and the existing organizations that are already working on it. This will help you determine whether there is a need for your organization, and if so, how you can best serve your target community. Additionally, research the legal requirements and best practices for starting a nonprofit in New Jersey. It is important to know that you have to have a clear and specific mission statement, goals and objectives. Also, research on the demographics and the community you are planning to serve. This will help you tailor your programs and services accordingly.

Choose a Legal Structure

Once you have a clear idea of your mission and goals, it's time to choose a legal structure for your nonprofit. In New Jersey, you can choose to incorporate as a nonprofit corporation, a charitable trust, or an unincorporated association. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's essential to consult with a lawyer or accountant to determine which one is best for your organization. A nonprofit corporation is the most common legal structure for nonprofits, which requires filing articles of incorporation with the state and obtaining tax-exempt status from the IRS. A charitable trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to hold assets for a specific charitable purpose, while an unincorporated association is a group of individuals who have come together for a common purpose but have not taken steps to incorporate as a nonprofit corporation.

Obtain Tax-Exempt Status

To operate as a nonprofit in New Jersey, you must obtain tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State of New Jersey. This typically involves submitting an application for tax-exempt status, which must include detailed information about your organization's mission, activities, and finances. Obtaining tax-exempt status can be a time-consuming process, so it's essential to start this step early. You can apply for tax-exempt status by filing Form 1023 (Application for Recognition of Exemption) with the IRS. The application process can take several months, so it's important to plan accordingly. Once you have received tax-exempt status, you will be eligible to receive tax-deductible donations, and you will not have to pay federal income tax on the money your nonprofit earns.

Create a Budget and Fundraising Plan

Once your legal structure and tax-exempt status are in place, it's time to develop a budget and fundraising plan. Your budget should include projected expenses for the first year, as well as a plan for how you will generate revenue to cover those expenses. Fundraising is an essential part of running a nonprofit, and you should develop a plan that includes a mix of different fundraising strategies, such as grants, donations, and events. You should also identify the potential funding sources, create a donor database, and plan the fundraising events. A budget should be realistic and should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Build a Board of Directors

A strong and dedicated board of directors is essential for the success of any nonprofit. As you build your board, look for individuals who are passionate about your mission and have the skills, experience, and connections that can help your organization grow. Your board should also include a diverse group of people with a range of perspectives and experiences. A Board of Directors is responsible for the overall governance of the organization and should include individuals with financial, legal, and management expertise. It is also important to establish clear roles and responsibilities for board members and to provide regular training and development opportunities.

Develop a Marketing and Communication Strategy

To build support for your nonprofit, you'll need to develop a marketing and communication strategy that effectively communicates your mission and the impact of your organization. This may include creating a website, social media profiles, and other marketing materials, as well as developing a plan for reaching out to potential donors, volunteers, and partners. A well-designed website and social media presence is essential to building awareness and support for your nonprofit. It is also important to establish relationships with the media, create a newsletter, and utilize email marketing to keep supporters informed about your organization's activities.


Starting a nonprofit in New Jersey is a complex process that requires a significant amount of planning, research, and effort. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your organization is set up for success and making a positive impact in the community. Remember that it's also important to stay informed about the latest legal and regulatory requirements for nonprofits in New Jersey, and to seek professional guidance when needed. Starting a nonprofit is a challenging task but with the right approach, proper planning, and the support of dedicated volunteers and supporters, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.