All Independent Groups (excluding colleges and schools that have decided to compete in the independent classes) will be required to provide proof of nonprofit incorporation in their home state.
Each group must submit proof of nonprofit incorporation from their state in the form of a certificate of good standing. This information should be submitted to the director’s dashboard beginning in June 2024. Groups required to be incorporated and not fulfilling this requirement by January 1, 2025, may be denied participation in WGI events.
Though it may seem daunting initially, with numerous resources available to help, it doesn’t have to be. In most states, incorporating an organization does not require costly attorney fees, and incorporation happens quite regularly without any professional guidance at all. That said, there is no replacement for sound legal advice. If your group can afford an attorney and want advice, contact a licensed attorney in your state.
There is a wealth of resources on the internet, including professional companies such as LegalZoom, that also offer this service.
Basic Steps of Incorporation
Incorporating is a state level activity and requirements vary by state. It is important to check with your state’s specific rules and regulations, but here are some common incorporation steps:
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number used to identify a legal business or organization. You may apply for an EIN in various ways, including applying online. A free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service, you can get an EIN immediately. You should check with your stateto ensure you need a state number or charter.
- Search for the name of your group to incorporate under on your Secretary of State website. Every corporation has a unique legal name in the state of incorporation. One requirement is to include “Inc.” or “Corp.” in all formal correspondence and legal documents – this varies by state.
- Appoint directors of the corporation. These required positions also vary in number by State (usually a minimum of three).
- File Articles of Incorporation with state authorities. The state in which a group is incorporated will determine the actual forms. Filing fees are usually under $500.
- Draw up corporate by-laws. This will be a legal outline of how the corporation is run. Great care must be taken to cover all the bases in the by-laws. Legal issues can be avoided when the ruling document is clear and addresses common issues.
- Hold the initial meeting of the board of directors. This is a formal meeting with minutes recorded and allows initial votes on the by-laws.
- Obtain any licenses or permits required by your state to operate in your group’s name.
- Publish required notifications in local media (usually the legal section of the newspaper).
Resources by State
The process of incorporation differs from state to state. Groups should research requirements with their Secretary of State to obtain more detailed information. The information below is subject to change and is not intended as legal advice.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping small businesses and organizations get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. This organizations, supported by U.S. Business Administration, provides mentoring, access to tools and templates as well as workshops.
Are WGI Independent Groups Required to be 501(c)3?
No. The terms nonprofit and 501(c)(3) are often used interchangeably, but they all mean different things. Nonprofit means the entity, usually a corporation, is organized for a nonprofit purpose. 501(c)(3) means a nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the IRS as being tax-exempt by virtue of its charitable programs.
Groups may apply for 501(c)(3) status and the benefits that come with that designation should they choose depending on what is best for their situation, but it is not required to fulfill the incorporation requirement.
For more information, visit the Internal Revenue Service website.
All groups participating in the Independent classed must provide proof of incorporation to WGI by January 1, 2025.
Medical Expense is within your General Liability policy and is a no fault medical insurance for any spectators or non-performing participants, non-staff. No lawsuit needs to be filed for this limit to cover these types of “slip & fall”, bodily injury incidents.
No. Groups may pursue a 501(c)(3) designation, but it will not be required by WGI to participate in our events.
No. An organization may have separate entities under one incorporated entity. Check with your Secretary of State for your situation.
Proof of incorporation is not required for the 2024 season. WGI will begin accepting documentation beginning next summer to satisfy the January 1, 2025, deadline.