How to Start a Nonprofit in West Virginia?


Starting a nonprofit in West Virginia can seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and resources, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. This guide will walk you through the steps of starting a nonprofit in West Virginia, including how to choose a mission, form a board of directors, and apply for tax-exempt status.

Choosing a Mission

Choosing a mission is the first and most important step in starting a nonprofit in West Virginia. A clear and well-defined mission statement is essential for guiding the organization's decisions, actions, and goals. It should be specific, measurable, and achievable, and should align with the needs of your community. For example, if you want to start a nonprofit to provide education to underprivileged children, your mission statement should reflect that goal. It should also be something that you are passionate about and that you can commit to for the long-term.

Forming a Board of Directors

A board of directors is a group of individuals who are responsible for the governance of your nonprofit. They are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organization, making important decisions, and providing oversight. In West Virginia, a nonprofit must have a board of directors consisting of at least three members. The board should be diverse in terms of skills, experience, and background. This will ensure that your nonprofit has a broad range of perspectives and experiences to draw from. It's important to remember that the board members will be the legal representatives of the nonprofit and will be held responsible for its actions.

Applying for Tax-Exempt Status

Once you have formed a board of directors, the next step is to apply for tax-exempt status. This means that your nonprofit will be exempt from paying federal income taxes on the money it earns. To apply for tax-exempt status, you will need to file articles of incorporation with the West Virginia Secretary of State's office and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. You will also need to file Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption, with the IRS. It's important to note that the process can take some time and it's important to be patient.


Fundraising is an important aspect of running a nonprofit, and there are many ways to raise money for your cause. Some of the most common ways to fundraise include:
  • Grant writing: writing proposals to foundations, corporations, and government agencies to request funding. This can be a time-consuming process, but it can be very effective in securing large amounts of funding.
  • Individual donations: asking individuals to make a donation. This can be done through mail, email, phone, or in-person solicitations.
  • Events: hosting events such as a gala, silent auction, or golf tournament. This can be a great way to raise money and also create awareness about your organization.
  • Sponsorships: getting businesses to sponsor your organization. This can be a great way to secure long-term funding and also create awareness about your organization.
  • Social media: using social media to spread the word about your organization and ask for donations. This can be a cost-effective way to reach a large audience.
When it comes to fundraising, it's important to be creative and think outside the box. Be sure to research different fundraising methods and find the one that best aligns with your nonprofit's goals and mission.


Starting a nonprofit in West Virginia can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By choosing a mission, forming a board of directors, applying for tax-exempt status, and fundraising, you can make a positive impact on your community. Remember to be patient and persistent, and to seek out the resources and support you need along the way. With the right approach, you can make a real difference in the lives of others. It's important to remember that starting a nonprofit is not a one-time event, it's a process that requires ongoing effort, dedication, and hard work.