You and others have come together to embrace an opportunity or address a challenge in your community. You are interested in advancing your efforts and joining Washington State’s thriving nonprofit sector. In Washington, there are more than 56,000 nonprofit corporations and approximately 12,000 registered charities. Across the U.S., there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. With all these nonprofits — and the reality that many struggle to stay in existence — carefully consider if creating a new organization is the best approach to achieve your desired impact.

Starting a Nonprofit invites you and your group to think about the difference you seek to make and the ideal structure to move forward. The guide leads you through key decision-making points to assess whether a nonprofit is the best way to accomplish your goals. If you decide to move forward with starting a nonprofit, the guide, along with the Washington Nonprofit Handbook, provides information around compliance and practices that support becoming an operational organization.

Two hand lifting up a heart with the state of Washington in it.

What We Cover in Starting a Nonprofit

Part 1: Exploring What You Need to Know

If you are thinking about starting a nonprofit, there are several big ideas to explore before moving forward.

Part 2: Making Your Decision

Once you know more about setting up and operating a nonprofit, you are ready to decide whether to start a nonprofit organization.

Part 3: Starting a Nonprofit

There are several key areas to consider as you begin the actual work of starting a nonprofit organization.
Starting a Nonprofit in Washington State Guide

Starting a Nonprofit Guide

Start by downloading the Starting a Nonprofit that includes checklists, activities, and reflection questions. Find templates and other documents to help put what you learned into practice in the document vault. Keep on learning with other resources and upcoming workshops on nonprofit legal topics. 

Download the Guide

Document Vault

Check out these documents and templates to deepen your learning and help put what you learned into practice.

Articles of Incorporation Template – Members

Articles of Incorporation template for organizations with members

Articles of Incorporation Template – Without Members

Sample Articles of Incorporation template for organizations without members

Board Member Position Description Resources

A job description for board members, as well as officers, is helpful for current and prospective board members. ...

Bylaws Template – With Members

Bylaws template for organizations with members

Bylaws Template – Without Members

Bylaws template for organizations without members

More Resources

Internal Revenue Service

Washington State Office of the Secretary of State Corporations and Charities Division

Continue Learning

Finance Unlocked for Nonprofits

Finance Unlocked For Nonprofits Logo. Balance Sheet. Income Statement. Nine-Ninety. Giving. Oversight.

Important Note: This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or technical advice. If you are unsure about anything covered in Starting a Nonprofit, we suggest that you contact the appropriate agency or seek professional advice. Also, laws impacting nonprofit organizations change over time. The information contained in this guide may become out of date.
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