Last Updated: February 16, 2024, 2:11 pm by TRUiC Team


How to Start a Nonprofit in West Virginia

To start a nonprofit in West Virginia and get 501c3 status, follow these steps:

Step 1: Name Your West Virginia 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 Articles of Incorporation
Step 6: Get an EIN
Step 7: Apply for 501c3

Or simply use a professional service:

Northwest Nonprofit Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Starting a 501c3 Nonprofit in West Virginia Is Easy

You can make almost anywhere in the state of West Virginia the home of your nonprofit. In fact, it’s common to find nonprofits in Charleston, but you can also find them in Huntington, Wheeling, Parkersburg, Beckley, and others.

West Virginia is home to over 11,249 organizations serving its communities and beyond. These nonprofits are a major source of employment in the region, employing 121,634 people statewide. West Virginia has fewer nonprofits than many other states — they bring in only $14 billion annually but have assets of $21 billion. 

While there are fewer nonprofits than in some states, you’ll be interested to know that 170 of them employ between 101 and 1,000 people, and another 16 employ 1,000 people or more. Large organizations help keep people working in this state with fewer job opportunities. 

Some of the major employers include:

  • Charleston Area Medical Center
  • Wheeling Hospital
  • Cabell Huntington Hospital

Overall, the largest employers are usually community mental health centers, religious organizations, community clinics, and senior centers.

Looking at revenue, there are 19 nonprofit businesses in West Virginia that bring in $100 million or more annually and 48 that bring in between $25 million and $100 million. There are also nonprofits that earn much less — 2,288 bring in $250,000 or less annually. So, there is room for a nonprofit of any size in this state. 

If you’re not sure what kind of nonprofit you want to open, consider that the least common nonprofits in the state are scientific research, medical research, and social science research centers or organizations. In fact, there are only four social science research centers in the entire state. There are also few internationally-focused or disease-focused nonprofits. 

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

Learn more about 501c3 eligibility in our What Is a 501c3 guide.

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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 West Virginia Nonprofit

Getting the right name for your organization is one of the most important steps when opening your nonprofit. You should choose a name that meets the state’s naming requirements and that others are able to search for quickly and easily. 

Our How to Name a Nonprofit in West Virginia has more information on the name creation process.

1. Follow the West Virginia naming rules:

Make sure your name:

  • Has an organizational designation, like “Incorporated” or “Inc.”
  • Doesn’t imply that your nonprofit is for something other than what you stated in your articles of incorporation.

Go over the West Virginia Legislature's official guidelines to see all the rules for naming your nonprofit.

2. Can you use the name in West Virginia? Complete a name search on West Virginia’s Secretary of State website to make sure your business name is available and not already in use. 

3. Is the URL available? It’s smart to figure out if your business name is available as a web domain. Though you might not want to create a website today, getting your URL prevents others from using it in your stead. 

Find a Domain Now

It’s now time to complete the West Virginia nonprofit formation process. With your name and URL in tow, it’s smart to contact a helpful, professional agency to complete the process for you. We suggest:

Northwest Nonprofit Northwest ($29 + State Fees)

Step 2: Choose an Agent of Process in West Virginia

Any nonprofit in West Virginia is required to nominate a registered agent for its organization. The state also refers to these agents as an “agent of process” in its registration forms.

What is a registered agent? This agent is a person who accepts legal documents on behalf of your nonprofit. They are the main point of contact for the state.

You can choose one of several people or businesses to become your registered agent. The agent can be:

  • A registered agent service
  • Yourself
  • An individual that works with your nonprofit
  • A resident of the state
  • A corporation within the state

For more details, check out our How to Choose a Registered Agent for Your West Virginia Nonprofit guide.

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 the nonprofit who have individual responsibilities and authorities are known as officers

Both West Virginia and the IRS require 501c3 nonprofits to have at least three directors to be eligible for 501c3 status. The majority of directors should not be related to each other.

West Virginia does not have any specific officer requirements, meaning titles are left up to the nonprofit to determine in its bylaws.

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

Step 4: Adopt Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policy

Before you’ll be able to apply for 501c3 status, you need to set up your nonprofit’s bylaws and conflict of interest policy. 

Your bylaws outline all the nonprofit’s operating procedures, and your conflict of interest policy includes rules that make sure the officers’ or board of directors’ actions or decisions are made to benefit the nonprofit, not individual members. 

NOTE: Don’t forget that your board of directors, officers, bylaws, and conflict of interest policy all have to be established during your first organizational meeting. 

Step 5: File the West Virginia Articles of Incorporation

To register your nonprofit, you will need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the State of West Virginia.

To ensure that your nonprofit is eligible to apply for 501c3, in the Articles of Incorporation you must explicitly state the following:

1. Purpose:

In order to qualify for 501c3 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 501c3 status,  the assets of your organization must only ever be used for purposes approved under section 501c3. 

Section 5 of this sample IRS document provides an example of these provisions required for 501c3 eligibility. 

File the Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the State of West Virginia

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File Form CD-1NP by Mail, by Fax, by Email, or In Person

Download Form

State Filing Cost: $25, payable to the West Virginia Secretary of State.

Filing Addresses:
Charleston Office
One-Stop Business Center
1615 Washington St. E.
Charleston, WV 25311

Clarksburg Office
North Central WV Business Center
200 W. Main St.
Clarksburg, WV 26301

Martinsburg Office
Eastern Panhandle Business Center
229 E. Martin St.
Martinsburg, WV 25401

Fax: (304) 558-8381

Email: CorpFilings@wvsos.gov

Step 6: Get an EIN

Your next step is to get your business an Employer Identification Number (EIN), sometimes called a Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN). Your EIN is how the federal government recognizes your nonprofit as its own entity. 

Why do I need EIN for my nonprofit? There are several reasons to get an EIN. For example, an EIN helps you:

  • Open business banking accounts as your nonprofit
  • Pay your nonprofit’s taxes
  • Hire people to work for your nonprofit

How can you get an EIN? If you form your nonprofit using the WV One Stop Business Portal, you can get an EIN as a part of the process of starting your nonprofit. Otherwise, you can reach out to the IRS for a free EIN by mail or online. Check out our EIN Lookup guide to learn more about this process.

Step 7: Apply for 501c3 Status

Before a nonprofit can apply for 501c3 status it must, 

  1. Elect at least 3 directors not related to each other
  2. File the Articles of Incorporation 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 501c3 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 501c3. 

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See if your nonprofit has 501c3 status in West Virginia. Use our West Virginia 501c3 lookup table to find all West Virginia nonprofits.

FAQ: Starting Your Nonprofit

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

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 West Virginia Quick Links