Creating a Non-Profit Out of Your Portland Small Business

If your company is of a religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational nature, then you may be able to register it as a 501(c)(3) organization, operating in the city of Portland, Oregon. Forming a business under this non-profit designation offers important tax benefits, among other considerations worth noting.

Let’s take a look at the process for creating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Portland, Oregon and beyond.

Step 1: Form Your Oregon Nonprofit Corporation

Before you can obtain your federal and state tax exemptions, you’ll need to form a non-profit corporation in the state of Oregon. This process entails several steps.

First, you’ll need to choose your initial board of directors. You have to elect a minimum of three people as directors, unless your company is a religious organization or mutual benefit nonprofit, in which case only one director is necessary.

Next, you’ll need to choose a name for your public benefit corporation. Make sure you choose something unique; you don’t want your nonprofit to be confused with other business entities. Don’t include the words “limited partnership” or “cooperative” in your business name, because those tend to imply a different type of business structure than the one you’re creating by forming a Portland-based non-profit entity.

Before filing, you may want to double-check the Oregon business name database, even if you don’t see any similar business names when performing a web search. There may be other nonprofits with similar or identical names in formative stages, and you don’t want to have to choose a different name at the last minute.

Prepare Your Bylaws When Forming a PDX Non-Profit Entity

Bylaws are the rules that will govern your nonprofit entity’s procedures for holding meetings, electing officers, and addressing other important legal necessities. While you won’t need to file your bylaws with the state, you will need to make sure your nonprofit’s bylaws are in compliance with Oregon state law.

Creating a Portland Non-Profit: How to File Your Articles of Organization

The Oregon Secretary of State website features an electronic articles of incorporation form. Have the following information close at hand when filing your Articles of Organization:

  • The name you have chosen for your nonprofit
  • The full mailing address of your corporation’s registered office
  • The name and address of each incorporator
  • The address of the principal of the corporation
  • Your organization’s designation: i.e. public benefit, mutual benefit, or religious
  • Your nonprofit’s membership status
  • An allocation of assets, should the corporation dissolve

Before we move on, there are a couple of important things to note: firstly, if the incorporator is an individual, he or she must be at least 18 years of age. Second, it is possible for a corporation, association, or partnership to serve as the incorporator of a nonprofit. Third, you must fill in the optional section on the Secretary of State’s downloadable form regarding asset distribution in the event of dissolution. It’s required for tax-exempt status.

portland nonprofit organizations

Hold a Board Meeting for Your New Non-Profit

Your nonprofit’s first board meeting should be set aside for electing directors and appointing officers, approving the previously mentioned bylaws, initiating accounting procedures, and signing off on the corporation’s initial financial transactions. Make sure the decisions made at this and subsequent board meetings are accurately recorded in the meeting minutes.

Your PDX Non-Profit Needs to Start Keeping Corporate Records

At some point, you may need to reference or show your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation, meeting minutes, or other documents. You’ll want to make sure you keep them organized and in one place. Designate a filing cabinet for this purpose, and be sure to keep your records organized.

Obtain Your Tax Exemptions

To obtain federal and state tax exemptions, you’ll need to file form 1023 with the IRS or form 1023-EZ, depending on the size and projected income of your nonprofit entity. Both forms are available from, but only the 1023-EZ can be filed online.

If approved for federal 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit will likely be exempt from Oregon state income tax, as well.

Getting Your New Portland Non-Profit Entity Off the Ground

Regardless of what business or industry you’re operating your new Portland-based non-profit in, chances are strong you’ll have plenty of design, marketing, printing and mailing needs before too long. And when you’re ready to create business cards, signage, newsletters, folded brochures, direct mail campaigns to raise funds and more, East Side Printing Co. in Portland, Ore. is here to help, with special discounts for PDX Non-Profits!

[Photo Via:]