Do you have a name?

Because every nonprofit is a legal company, it needs a name legally permissible in your state. Naming rules vary by state but generally require including “Inc.” at the end. “Inc.” is short for “Incorporation” and defines the organization as a corporation.

Your organization’s name must also be unique in your state. While Help, Inc. might be the perfect name for your organization, there is most likely already a Help, Inc. registered in your state. It’s important to search the Secretary of State database for instances of your intended name. A note of caution: some states will consider anything that sounds like a registered name off-limits. So even if a search nets no results, it does not guarantee the name is available. Having availability rules vary by state.

Additionally, many states and the IRS do not allow any form of punctuation in the name. Consider these rules when determining a potential name. For example, an organization might be called “Joe’s House, Inc.” but on the IRS paperwork, it would appear as “Joes House Inc” instead. Ultimately, the lack of punctuation is not a big deal and does not affect the origination’s activities, but it is worth considering.

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