How To Start A Non Profit Organization

not-for-profit company volunteers

Originally Published: Jan 18, 2016

Starting a nonprofit is a commitment to giving back to the community and the world around you. Incorporating your nonprofit is sometimes a difficult task, but hopefully the following steps can help you when it comes to starting one of your own.

Assess Need

Like starting any business, whether nonprofit or for profit, before forming your nonprofit you must identify a specific need within the community. For nonprofit organizations, funding and government grants can be difficult to obtain, so it’s important that you can demonstrate exactly what the need is, and why it must be addressed. When applying for funding, you must show that your organization operates to provide a unique service to a community. This requires a great deal of research and information gathering about the specific community. You must be able to explain exactly:

  • What services you are hoping to provide.
  • How you will go about providing them.
  • Why it’s important to provide them.
  • What positive short- and long-term results can be expected.
  • The amount and type of resources needed.
  • Why your organization is unique.
not for profit / charitable incorporation

Once you can provide all the above explanations, and demonstrate the need for your organization, and the positive effects it will provide, you can move on to the next step. Create the Organization Once you’ve done your research and conducted a needs analysis, it’s time to get everything in writing. Here are the requirements to file a new not for profit:

  • A Mission Statement: Your mission statement should state clearly what purpose your organization will serve, specifically what groups you will serve and how. Your mission statement is the most important document when it comes to building your nonprofit and it needs a great deal of time and care.
  • A Business Plan: Your business plan will need to go into more concrete detail about how you plan to effect change. When creating a business plan, it’s important to think short and long term. Your business plan creates the operational and financial structure for your entire organization.

When crafting these documents, be prepared to take a long time and go into great detail. Especially when planning financially, you mustn’t leave any stone unturned. Before going ahead with your nonprofit, you must know for certain that your ideas are realistic and attainable.


Once all the above bases have been covered, you’re ready to incorporate. Incorporating your nonprofit organization is like incorporating any other company, and can be done provincially or federally and you would receive Articles of Incorporation registered under the Not for Profit Corporations Act. 

If you are a charitable organization, you will also want to apply for charitable status through Revenue Canada in order to issue income tax receipts to donors and possibly attain tax exemption. The type of nonprofit you are considered is based on the purposes you list and what you are doing. Common types of nonprofits that are considered non-charitable are recreational clubs and associations, such as sports clubs, photography clubs and professional associations.

In order to be considered a charitable organization, you will want to ensure you have listed charitable purposes and that your organization operates for the benefit of the community. 

When deciding on the nonprofit corporations name, you will want to think of something that properly reflects what the nonprofit corporation is setting out to accomplish. The organizations name should make it clear that this is a nonprofit corporation and what its purpose is. If you are having trouble thinking of a creative name, a business name generator may be helpful in getting some ideas flowing.

You will also need to assemble your initial board of directors, who are responsible for managing the organization, attending board meetings, managing internal revenue and creating a marketing plan to grow your business. 

Starting your nonprofit doesn’t have to be stressful and Ontario Business Central is here to help get your Not for Profit Articles of Incorporation quickly, so you can begin the positive work you are setting out to accomplish. If you are prepared, and do all your research, you can end up with a truly rewarding nonprofit organization. It’s always important to give back!

Ontario Not For Profit Incorporation

Federal Not For Profit Incorporation

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Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.