How to Start a Nonprofit in South Carolina?


Starting a nonprofit in South Carolina can be a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor, as it allows you to make a positive impact on your community while also providing tax benefits for donors. However, starting a nonprofit can also be a complex process that requires careful planning and compliance with various state and federal regulations. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the steps you need to take to start a nonprofit in South Carolina.

Determine the Purpose

Determining the purpose of your nonprofit is an essential step in the process of starting a nonprofit in South Carolina. This will be the mission statement or statement of purpose that guides all of your activities and initiatives. Your nonprofit's purpose should be specific, measurable, and achievable, and it should align with the needs of your community. It's also important to research existing nonprofits in your area to ensure that your organization will not be duplicating the efforts of others. It is important to have a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, and how your organization will address it. Your mission statement should be concise and easy to understand, and it should reflect the core values and beliefs of your organization. This statement will be used in all of your marketing and fundraising materials, so it's important to get it right.

Choose a Name

Once you have determined the purpose of your nonprofit, the next step is to choose a name. Your nonprofit's name should be unique and should not be similar to that of any existing organization. You can check the availability of your desired name by searching the database of the Secretary of State of South Carolina. After choosing a name, you will need to register your nonprofit with the state of South Carolina by filing articles of incorporation with the South Carolina Secretary of State. You will need to provide information about your nonprofit's purpose, name, and registered agent. Registered agent is a person or an organization that will accept legal documents on behalf of your nonprofit. The articles of incorporation must include the name of the nonprofit, its purpose, and the names and addresses of the incorporators.

Obtain Tax-Exempt Status

After registering your nonprofit with the state, you will need to obtain tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This will allow your organization to be exempt from paying federal income taxes. To obtain tax-exempt status, you will need to file Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption, with the IRS. This form can be found on the IRS website and must be accompanied by a business plan and other required documentation. Obtaining tax-exempt status can be a time-consuming process, and it's important to ensure that all of the required information and documentation is included with your application. The IRS will also review your organization's activities to ensure that they align with the requirements for tax-exempt status.

Develop a Business Plan

A business plan is a crucial document that outlines the goals and objectives of your nonprofit, as well as the strategies you will use to achieve them. It should also include information about your organization's budget and fundraising plans. Your business plan should be detailed and realistic, and it should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. A business plan should include information about your organization's mission and purpose, target population, programs and services, budget, fundraising plan, and long-term goals. It should also include a detailed marketing and communications plan, outlining how you will promote your organization and engage with your target population.

Register with the State of South Carolina

After obtaining tax-exempt status, you will need to register your nonprofit with the state of South Carolina. This can be done through the South Carolina Secretary of State's office. You will need to provide information about your organization's purpose, name, and registered agent, as well as a copy of your articles of incorporation and your IRS determination letter.

Build Your Board of Directors

Once your nonprofit is registered with the state, you will need to build a board of directors. Your board of directors is responsible for the overall governance of your organization and should be composed of individuals who are committed to your mission and have the skills and experience needed to help your nonprofit succeed.

Start Fundraising and Building Your Programs

With your nonprofit registered and your board of directors in place, you can start fundraising and building your programs. This will involve developing a fundraising plan, creating a marketing and communications strategy, and building partnerships with other organizations in your community. Starting a nonprofit in South Carolina can be a complex process, but by following these steps and adhering to state laws and regulations, you can ensure that your organization is set up for success. Remember that starting a nonprofit is a continuous process, and you will have to keep working on it to achieve your goals.


In conclusion, starting a nonprofit organization in South Carolina requires careful planning and adherence to state laws and regulations. It all starts by determining the purpose of your nonprofit, choosing a name and registering  it.