How to Start a Nonprofit in New Jersey

To start a nonprofit in New Jersey and get 501(c)(3) status, follow these steps:

Step 1: Name Your New Jersey Nonprofit
Step 2: Choose Your Registered Agent
Step 3: Select Your Board Members & Officers
Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy
Step 5: File the Public Records Filing for New Business Entity
Step 6: Get a New Jersey Tax Identification Number
Step 7: Get an EIN
Step 8: Apply for 501(c)(3)

Or simply use a professional service:

Northwest Nonprofit Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Starting a 501c3 Nonprofit in New Jersey is Easy

To start a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization in New Jersey, you must first start a nonprofit in New Jersey according to the rules of the state and then apply for 501c3 status with the IRS.

Learn more about 501(c)(3) eligibility in our What is a 501(c)(3) guide.

Want to form a nonprofit elsewhere? Check out our other How to Start a Nonprofit guides. Also, check out our best nonprofit formation services review.

Step 1: Name Your New Jersey Nonprofit

Choosing a name for your organization is the first and most important step in starting your nonprofit corporation. Be sure to choose a name that complies with New Jersey naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential members and donors.

To learn more, read our How to Name a Nonprofit in New Jersey guide.

1. Follow the naming guidelines:

The name that you pick for your organization must include "a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation", "incorporated”, "corporation”, or “corp”.

You can read the official guidelines for the complete rules on naming a New Jersey based organization.

2. Is the name available in New Jersey? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the State of New Jersey Website.

3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

Now that you have verified your name and secured the URL, you can select a professional service to complete the New Jersey nonprofit formation process for you. We recommend:

Northwest Nonprofit Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in New Jersey

Your nonprofit is required to nominate a New Jersey registered agent for your organization.

What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business' point of contact with the state.

Who can be a Registered Agent? A registered agent must be a resident of New Jersey or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in New Jersey. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.

Need help choosing a registered agent? Check out our complete guide on How to Choose a Registered Agent for your New Jersey Nonprofit.

Step 3: Select your Directors & Officers

The directors of an organization come together to form a board of directors. This board of directors is responsible for overseeing the operations of the nonprofit. 

The president, secretary, and other members of nonprofit who have individual responsibilities and authorities are known as officers

The organization structure of your nonprofit in New Jersey MUST include:

  1. At least 3 directors not related to each other
  2. A president
  3. A secretary
  4. A treasurer

NOTE: One person may hold two or more officer positions, however, if a document requires signatures of two officers, it must be signed by two different people.

To learn more about electing a New Jersey nonprofit board of directors, read our full guide.

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

To be eligible to apply for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit is required to have the following two documents:

  1. Bylaws 
  2. Conflict of interest policy.

What are Bylaws? Bylaws are the rules outlining the operating procedures of the nonprofit.

What is a Conflict of Interest Policy? A Conflict of Interest Policy is the collection of rules put in place to ensure that any decisions made by the board of directors or the officers benefits the nonprofit and not individual members. 

NOTE: The bylaws and conflict of interest policy must be adopted by the nonprofit during its first organizational meeting where the directors and officers are officially appointed.

Step 5: File the New Jersey Public Records Filing for New Business Entity

To register your nonprofit, you will need to file a Public Records Filing for New Business Entity with the Department of Treasury.

To ensure that your nonprofit is eligible to apply for 501(c)(3), when filing for a New Business Entity you must explicitly state the following:

1. Purpose:

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, the organization’s purpose must explicitly be limited to one or more of the following:

Charitable, Religious, Scientific, Educational, Literary, Fostering national/international amateur sports competition, Preventing cruelty to animals/children, Testing for public safety

2. Dissolution:

You must explicitly state what the assets of the organization will be used for, and what will happen to the assets if the organization is dissolved. 

To be eligible for 501(c)(3) status, the assets of your organization must only ever be used for purposes approved under section 501(c)(3). 

Section 5 of this sample IRS document provides an example of these provisions required for 501(c)(3) eligibility. 

File the Public Records Filing

OPTION 1: File Online With the New Jersey Department of Revenue and Enterprise Services

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail or In Person

Download Form

Note: The Public Records Filing is on pages 21-24 of the Business Registration packet.


State Filing Cost: $30

Mailing Address:
New Jersey Division of Revenue
P.O. Box 308
Trenton, NJ 08646

Office Address:
New Jersey Division of Revenue
33 W. State St.
Trenton, NJ 08608

To learn more, read our New Jersey Articles of Incorporation guide.

Step 6: Get a New Jersey State Tax Identification Number

Within 60 days of filing as a new business entity the organization must apply for a New Jersey Taxpayer Identification Number.

File the Tax Identification Form

OPTION 1: Register Online With the New Jersey Department of Revenue and Enterprise Services

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: Register by Mail

Download Form

Note: Form NJ-REG is on pages 17-19 of the Business Registration packet.


Filing Fee: $0

Mailing Address:
New Jersey Division of Revenue
P.O. Box 252
Trenton, NJ 08646

Step 7: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity such as your nonprofit corporation. It is essentially a social security number for your organization.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required for the following:

  • To open a business bank account for the company
  • For Federal and State tax purposes
  • To hire employees for the company

How do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail. Check out our EIN Lookup guide for more information.

Step 8: Apply for 501(c)(3) Status

Before a nonprofit can apply for 501(c)(3) status it must, 

  1. Elect at least 3 directors not related to each other
  2. File the Public Records Filing with the required provisions (As covered in Step 5)
  3. Adopt the bylaws and conflict of interest policy
  4. Have an EIN number

Once these four conditions have been met your nonprofit can apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by filing Form-1023 online. 

If your application is approved, the IRS will send you a determination letter stating that your organization is exempt from federal taxes under section 501(c)(3). 

See if your nonprofit has 501(c)(3) status in New Jersey. Use our New Jersey 501(c)(3) lookup table to find all New Jersey nonprofits.

FAQ: Starting Your Nonprofit

When should an organization apply for federal tax exemption? An orange arrow pointing down

Form 1023 must be filed within 27 months from the end of the first month your organization was created.

How long will it take for the IRS to process Form 1023/1023-EZ?An orange arrow pointing down

Soon after sending your application you should receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your application. 

If your application is simple and complete, IRS will send your determination letter within 180 days for Form 1023

If you have not heard from them by that time you can call (877) 829-5500 to inquire about your application. 

State of New Jersey Quick Links

Have a Question? Leave a Comment!