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In this article we have discussed Steps for Starting a Non-Profit Organization in India.Starting a non-profit organization in India is a noble endeavor aimed at promoting social welfare, education, religion, or any other charitable cause. The process, governed by Indian law, involves several crucial steps to ensure legal compliance and operational success. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate through the process seamlessly.

Understanding the Basics of Non-Profit Organizations in India

Before embarking on the journey of starting a non-profit, it’s essential to understand the different forms these organizations can take. In India, non-profits can operate as Trusts, Societies, or Section 8 Companies, each with its own set of rules and benefits.


Trusts are suitable for small to medium-sized charitable activities. They are easy to establish with a minimum of two trustees and are governed by the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.


Societies are membership organizations that can be formed by a minimum of seven members. They are governed by the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and are ideal for clubs, associations, and non-profitable services.

Section 8 Companies

Section 8 Companies are registered under the Companies Act, 2013. They are suitable for large-scale operations and provide greater flexibility in terms of management and structure.

Steps for Starting a Non-Profit Organization in India

Step 1: Decide the Type of Organization

Firstly, decide whether your non-profit will operate as a Trust, Society, or a Section 8 Company based on your mission, scale of operations, and resources.

Step 2: Drafting the Governing Document

  • For Trusts: Prepare a trust deed that outlines the objectives, management details, and rules of the trust.
  • For Societies: Draft a memorandum of association and rules and regulations.
  • For Section 8 Companies: Prepare a memorandum and articles of association.

Step 3: Registration Process

  • Trusts must be registered with the local registrar in the state where the trust operates.
  • Societies are registered with the Registrar of Societies in the respective state.
  • Section 8 Companies require approval from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) after filing the application online through the MCA portal.

Step 4: Obtain Necessary Approvals and Registrations

After registration, your non-profit might need to obtain:

  • Permanent Account Number (PAN)
  • Tax Exemption Certificates under sections 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act, if applicable.
  • Registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), if you plan to receive foreign contributions.

Step 5: Setting up a Bank Account

Open a bank account in the name of your non-profit organization to manage funds efficiently.

Step 6: Compliance and Reporting

Ensure compliance with statutory requirements, including annual filings with the Registrar of Societies or the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and regular tax filings.

Best Practices for Running a Non-Profit Organization

Maintain Transparency

Ensure transparency in financial transactions and operations to build trust with stakeholders.

Effective Governance

Implement a robust governance structure to oversee the organization’s activities and ensure adherence to its mission and legal obligations.

Community Engagement

Engage with the community you aim to serve for better impact and sustainability of your initiatives.


Starting a non-profit organization in India requires careful planning and adherence to legal procedures. By following the steps outlined above, you can establish a compliant and effective organization poised to make a significant impact. Remember, the success of a non-profit hinges not just on its legal foundation but also on its commitment to transparency, governance, and community engagement.

You can also read :- Difference Between Will and Trust.

FAQ on Starting a Non-Profit Organization in India

1. What is a non-profit organization in India?

A non-profit organization in India is an entity formed for the promotion of art, science, education, sports, charity, social welfare, religion, or any other similar objective. Profits, if any, are reinvested into the organization rather than distributed to its members.

2. What are the main types of non-profit organizations in India?

The main types include Trusts, Societies, and Section 8 Companies.

3. How many people are needed to form a Trust in India?

A minimum of two trustees are required to form a Trust.

4. What is the minimum number of members required to start a Society?

At least seven members are needed to start a Society in India.

5. Can a non-profit distribute profits to its members?

No, a non-profit cannot distribute profits to its members. Any surplus must be reinvested into the organization.

6. What is a Trust Deed?

A Trust Deed is a legal document that outlines the objectives, management, and rules of the Trust.

7. Are non-profits in India required to register?

Yes, non-profits must register under their respective Acts to gain legal recognition and benefits.

8. How do you register a Society in India?

A Society is registered with the Registrar of Societies in the respective state by submitting the memorandum of association and rules and regulations.

9. What is the process to register a Section 8 Company?

A Section 8 Company is registered through the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) portal by submitting the memorandum and articles of association and obtaining approval.

10. Do non-profits pay taxes in India?

Non-profits can be exempt from certain taxes if they obtain the necessary tax exemption certificates under sections 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act.

11. What is FCRA registration?

FCRA registration is required for non-profits in India to receive foreign contributions. It is governed by the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

12. Can a non-profit operate without registration?

Operating without registration limits the organization’s legal recognition and ability to receive donations and tax benefits.

13. How long does it take to register a non-profit in India?

The time varies depending on the type of organization and the specific registration process, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months.

14. Is it necessary to have a PAN for a non-profit?

Yes, obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN) is mandatory for financial transactions and tax filings.

15. Can non-profits engage in commercial activities?

Non-profits can engage in income-generating activities as long as the profits are used solely for the organization’s objectives.

16. How often must a non-profit file its taxes?

Non-profits must file annual tax returns, including their income and expenditure details.

17. What records should a non-profit maintain?

Non-profits should maintain detailed records of their activities, financial transactions, annual reports, and tax filings.

18. Can a non-profit have employees?

Yes, non-profits can hire employees to manage and operate their activities.

19. What are the benefits of starting a non-profit in India?

Benefits include tax exemptions, legal recognition, the ability to receive donations, and contributing to social welfare.

20. How can a non-profit be dissolved?

The process for dissolution varies by the type of organization and is usually outlined in the governing document or relevant Acts.

21. Can a non-profit own property?

Yes, non-profits can own property in the name of the organization for fulfilling their objectives.

22. What is the difference between a Trust and a Society?

Trusts are typically used for smaller charitable activities, whereas Societies are membership organizations suited for clubs, associations, and non-profit services.

23. Can foreigners be members of a non-profit in India?

Yes, foreigners can be members of a non-profit, subject to the organization’s rules and FCRA regulations if applicable.

24. Are non-profits subject to audit?

Yes, non-profits are subject to audit as per the requirements of their governing Act or regulations.

25. How can a non-profit raise funds?

Non-profits can raise funds through donations, grants, membership fees, and income-generating activities aligned with their objectives.

26. Can a non-profit change its objectives?

Yes, but any change in objectives requires approval from the relevant authority and must be in compliance with the organization’s governing document.

27. What is the role of the board in a non-profit?

The board oversees the organization’s activities, ensuring it meets its objectives and complies with legal and financial requirements.

28. Can a non-profit be political?

Non-profits in India are generally expected to be non-political and work towards charitable, educational, or social welfare objectives.

29. How can one volunteer or work for a non-profit?

Interested individuals can contact the non-profit directly to inquire about volunteer or employment opportunities.

30. How is a non-profit different from a for-profit entity?

Non-profits focus on achieving their social, charitable, or educational missions without distributing profits to members, while for-profit entities aim to generate profits for their owners or shareholders.


1.Companies Act, 2013

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