How to Start a Nonprofit in Oregon?


Nonprofits play a vital role in the community by providing services and support to those in need. Starting a nonprofit organization in Oregon can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires a significant amount of planning and effort. The following is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process of starting a nonprofit in the state of Oregon.

Determine Your Mission and Goals

The first step in starting a nonprofit is to determine the mission and goals of your organization. Your mission statement should clearly articulate the purpose of your organization and the problem or need it aims to address. It should be brief and easy to understand, and should be the foundation of all your organization's activities. Your objectives should be explicit, quantifiable, and attainable. They should be aligned with your mission and should be used to guide your organization's operations and decision-making.

Research Other Nonprofits

Before you begin the process of starting a nonprofit, it is important to research other organizations that have similar missions and goals. This research will help you understand the services and programs that are currently being offered, as well as the needs of the community that are not being met. It will also help you identify potential partners and collaborators. Researching other nonprofits will also help you avoid duplicating efforts and can give you ideas for new programs and services to offer.

Form a Board of Directors

A board of directors is a group of individuals who are responsible for the governance and oversight of your nonprofit. You will need to recruit at least three members for your board of directors, who will serve as the legal representatives of your organization. The board of directors should be composed of individuals who have a passion for your mission and the skills and expertise necessary to help your nonprofit succeed. They should also be committed to the long-term success of the organization.

File for Tax-Exempt Status

In order to be eligible for tax-exempt status, you will need to file an application with the IRS. This process can be complex and time-consuming, so it is important to work with an attorney or accountant who has experience in this area. In Oregon, you will also need to register with the Oregon Department of Justice's Charitable Activities Section. Obtaining tax-exempt status will enable your organization to receive tax-deductible donations and grants, which is essential for fundraising.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a document that outlines the operations and financial projections for your nonprofit. It should include information on your mission and goals, target population, services and programs, and fundraising strategies. A business plan will help you to secure funding from foundations and other sources, as well as to attract volunteers and support from the community. A well-written business plan will also help you stay on track and make important decisions as your organization grows.

Obtain Funding

Nonprofits rely on funding from a variety of sources, including grants, donations, and fundraising events. It is important to research potential funding sources and develop a fundraising plan that will help you to secure the necessary resources to support your programs and services. This can include writing grant proposals, organizing fundraising events, and reaching out to potential donors.

Build a Support Network

Starting a nonprofit can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but it is important to have a support network in place. This can include other nonprofit leaders, volunteers, and members of the community who can provide guidance and support as you work to establish your organization. Building a support network will help you to overcome obstacles and will provide valuable resources and connections as your organization grows. It's also important to note that in addition to the above steps, you will also need to comply with the state's nonprofit laws and regulations, such as registering with the state's attorney general office, filing annual reports and more. It would be best to consult a lawyer or a nonprofit organization expert to help you with all the legal requirements.


In conclusion, starting a nonprofit in Oregon is a process that requires careful planning and effort. From determining your mission and goals, to registering with the state and obtaining funding, each step is crucial to the success of your organization. Researching other nonprofits, forming a dedicated board of directors, creating a business plan, and building a support network are all important steps in the process. Additionally, developing effective programs and services, hiring staff and recruiting volunteers, and regularly evaluating and adapting your organization's efforts are key to maintaining a successful nonprofit. By following these steps, your organization can make a meaningful impact in the community it serves.