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Starting a Nonprofit in Illinois

Welcome to our overview for starting a nonprofit in Illinois. Review the essentials for launching an organization and maintaining federal and state compliance in the helpful guide below. Most Illinois nonprofits must register and annually renew their tax-exempt status, though exemptions are available for certain kinds of organizations. Contact us to learn more about the application process for exemption as it’s beyond the scope of this introductory information.

To start your nonprofit in Illinois, you will need to submit your nonprofit articles of incorporation to the State of Illinois to officially form your organization. Once you are incorporated, you will need to apply for tax-exempt status with the Federal Government / IRS. After you’ve obtained 501(c)(3) status, you can then Review the Illinois state requirements and required documentation listed below and reach out to us with any questions. Our team at BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions can help you understand every step in this mandatory yet essential process!



Articles of Incorporation (AOI)

Business Entity Search


$50 (Mail Only)

Average Processing Time

2 business days for AOI online, 8 weeks AOA

Electronic Filing?

YES, no clauses.

Charity Registration

State Requirement?


Charity Registration Search



Renewal Requirement?


990 EZ Requirement?


Annual Report

State Requirement?



By the 1st day of the month of the incorporation anniversary



Other Exemptions

State Income Tax


Sales Tax Exemption

Must file – $0

Tax Returns

All organizations (except those classified as churches) are required to file an annual 990 form (990N, 990EZ, 990, or 990PF) to be exempt from Income Tax.

The 990 return is due on the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of the organization’s fiscal year.

Failure to file for 3 consecutive years could cause your organization to lose tax-exempt status.

What Are the Illinois Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation?

To start a nonprofit in Illinois, you’ll need articles of incorporation and $50 in filing fees (mail only). To do this requires:

  • The nonprofit’s board needs a minimum of three directors.
  • A registered agent who can accept legal documents in the event your organization becomes involved in a lawsuit. The agent, which can be a corporation or individual, must have a non-P.O. box address in Illinois.
  • A name (corporation or individual) and street address in Illinois for the registered office and agent.
  • Name and mailing address of the person or business handling the incorporation (the incorporator is not required to be in Illinois).
  • Organizational bylaws that follow Illinois’ nonprofit requirements and have received board of director approval. 
  • A federal employer identification number (EIN).

Illinois Nonprofit Requirements

Why Start a Nonprofit in Illinois?

In each of the 50 states, nonprofits are working hard to improve people’s lives and communities. Being a part of the Illinois nonprofit sector offers the opportunity to make a difference, whether that’s in the “Windy City” of Chicago, the government seat in Springfield, or throughout the beautiful heartland countryside that gives the “Prairie State” its nickname.

How Are Illinois Organizations Making A Difference in Their Communities?

Nonprofit registration is available for entrepreneurial start-ups interested in serving a broad cross-section of the community’s needs. There is no shortage of opportunities in fields such as local and state government, health and social services, workforce training and educationarts and culture, disability rights, veterans’ services, animal welfare, and many more. Currently, the State of Illinois lists over 60,000 nonprofit organizations that employ nearly 578,000 individuals. Those numbers translate into over 10 percent of the entire workforce in the state. Residents of Illinois also donate almost 3 percent of their income every year to charitable causes and community concerns.

Is Illinois a Good State for Starting a Nonprofit?

The State of Illinois can be an ideal place to create your 501c3 nonprofit start-up! If you’re a passionate entrepreneur who has a desire to create lasting social change, the professional consultants at BryteBridge can help! The information and links below can get you started.

What Are the State Requirements for Starting a Nonprofit in Illinois?

As you start creating your organization’s business and strategic plans, you’ll want to keep in mind that Illinois’ nonprofit articles of incorporation require filing reports annually to maintain 501c3 tax-exempt status. Most states will want you to verify contact information, your nonprofit Board members’ list, and information about the registered agent. State compliance regulations may also request employee data and current sales tax exemption forms as well as an annual report to maintain your organization’s state operating license.

The societal impact of Illinois nonprofits is impressive. If you’re eager to create social change and help those in need, then launching your entrepreneurial nonprofit in Illinois may be a great idea. We encourage you to visit our Nonprofit Education Center to make sure you understand the basics, and our testimonials page to learn about other successful nonprofit entrepreneurs’ stories. Contact us if you have questions or want more information. We’re here to provide expert advice and assistance at any time.

Launch, Maintain, and Grow Your Nonprofit with BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions

 When you collaborate with our team of experts at BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions, starting a nonprofit in Illinois can be simple. We’ll help you navigate all the regulatory guidelines, so you’ll have more time to promote the cause you care deeply about. Learn more about our nonprofit startup solutions.