Starting a nonprofit in District of Columbia

Starting a Nonprofit in District of Columbia is governed by D.C nonprofit corporation Act (Title 29, Chapter 3 of the DC code).

Steps involved in starting a Nonprofit in D.C –

Choose a name. – Choose a name that represent the activities proposed to be undertaken.   As per D.C laws, you do not need to add any designators like co, corp, inc etc to the name of nonprofit.The important aspects to be incorporated when choosing a name can be assessed by clicking here -opens in a new window.)

Eligibility to start a nonprofit in D.C

1) Must be represented by a person or a corporation(who will be called the resident or registered agent). To be eligible this person or company must be  resident of District of Columbia. (Valid address required – P.o Box will not do)

Documents required for incorporating a nonprofit in D.C

As per the Act, you will have two essentially submit two document –

1) Articles of Incorporation 2)Bylaws of the Proposed organization.

Click on the links above to get a sample of each of the two documents for district of Columbia.

The sample provided here is for reference purpose only. They will need to be modified as per your specific needs and as per your some of the State and federal government statutes as applicable in D.C

The following restrictions need to be looked into when drafting your own incorporation documents.

1. The Minimum number of Incorporators mentioned in the Application should be 3. These are the people  who will execute the above two documents

2. The Minimum number of directors as written in the articles of Incorporation and the bylaws should be 3. There is no upper cap on the number of directors. Generally the first incorporators and board of directors are the same, but they still need to be mentioned twice under each of these clauses.

3.  The Director’s quorum-allowed is  not less than 1/3rd.

4.  The member’s quorum will be at figure you specify in the above documents or else 10% is taken as standard(if you do not not mention it in the bylaws)

5. The Director’s term in office should  not exceed 3 years.

6. Officer’s requirement – The nonprofit must appoint a president, secretary and treasurer. Officers cannot be appointed for more than 3 years at one time.

7. One person can hold two offices simultaneously, except for simultaneous holding of president and secretary.

8. The objective clause – In articles, state the specific purposes the corporation will pursue. In the District of Columbia, general purposes (such as “any lawful purpose”) are not acceptable.

Additionally the following clauses are recommended in the articles or the bylaws – (though not required by the law – samples above contain these clauses as well)-

9 . The membership clause.

10. The clause required by IRS (see samples provided above)

11. The clauses for state tax exemption (if any – required)

Filing fees for Non-Profit Corporations
Filing Fee…………………$40.00

Additionally you should consider obtaining the Certified copies of articles for which the secretary of state office charges – $35.00 per document.

This should be paid in separate check made favoring “D.C. TREASURER”

Where to submit these documents for incorporating –

The Articles and bylaws should be prepared in duplicate sets,  signed by all the incorporators in original on both send to DCRA office to the Business Licensing Administration, Corporation department at the following address –

Superintendent of Corporations

Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs

Business regulations Administration, Corporation Division

941, North Capital Street, N.E

Washington D.C 2002

Before sending, you must confirm the current address (just in case it changes) – where this should be mailed at (or any other information at –

DCRA Main Number (202) 442-4400

6. Commencement of Existence – Upon completion of the above formalities, and after successful filing, the nonprofit organization comes into a full legal existence.

The non profit organization thus comes into a formal legal existence.

Time required _ The entire process can be completed in less than 1 day , though a lot depends on your level of preparation.


A large number of people file these documents on their own. If you wish to outsource this part, there are several same-day incorporation service providers that can do this in your behalf. (You can search for them on the net).

Even if you decide to use the services of the professional ‘registered agents’, you should ideally draft your own articles and bylaws and have them ratified if needed by the service providers.

You should not let a third party draft them because this will eventually govern how your nonprofit functions on a day to day basis.