Starting a Nonprofit

4. Publish Legal Notice of Incorporation

The next step in the startup process is to publish the legal notice of incorporation (also called a legal advertisement) – this is like a birth announcement that gets published in newspapers, except that it is legally required in Pennsylvania.

You’ll need to publish this legal notice in two newspapers of regular circulation (one of which must be a legal newspaper if there is one in the county in which the organization is formed) and keep a copy of the proof of publication in your organization’s corporate minute book. (The legal advertisement is not filed with the Department of State).

A minute book is a document file (or binder) containing the formal written record of a nonprofit corporation’s corporate actions – it contains all of the resolutions and written consents of the organization’s board of directors as well as the organization’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, as amended, plus policies and other important documents. For guidance on how to keep meeting minutes, see our Template for Keeping Nonprofit Meeting Minutes.

Using a service provider, like a registered agent, to handle this publication requirement can help save time and keep costs down. Most registered agents provide this service and can make quick work of coordinating the legal notice. It is the newspapers’ advertising fees that make this step so expensive, and because Pennsylvania law has not capped the amount of fees that newspapers can charge nonprofits for these legal notices.

Pennsylvania does not cap the fee that nonprofits can be charged for publishing these legal notices, which makes startup costs more burdensome for nonprofits. Advertising fees vary widely based on county publications, and the fees are not the same for all Pennsylvania nonprofits, as the legal advertising costs vary depending on the counties in which organizations are located. Organizations should budget an additional $250-$350 to cover the publication of legal notice (plus service fees if your organization is paying a service provider to handle the coordination and publication of these legal notices). For a sample legal notice for a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation, download our Sample Legal Notice of Nonprofit Incorporation.