How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in Malawi

Jon Tyrell

Jon Tyrell

If you’re seeking ways to serve humanity, you might want to consider establishing an NGO. This article provides the necessary guidance on how to start a nonprofit organization in Malawi. You should know that the process is not as challenging as most people deem it to be.


How to start a nonprofit organization
How to start a nonprofit organization


  • All nonprofit organizations in Malawi must register with CONGOMA.
  • It is ideal to choose the nonprofit’s trustees after drafting the constitution.

Step-by-Step Process to Starting a Nonprofit Organization

A good dream is admirable. However, not knowing how to actualize it can be devastating. To help you achieve your dream of setting up an NGO, we will outline the necessary steps to begin the process of registration.

1. Conceptualize Your Ideas

Nonprofit organizations are oftentimes created by a single person or group of people. Most importantly, the initiator(s) must clearly understand what they intend to achieve and why they seek to establish an NGO.  Likewise, there is also a need to address the broad framework of how thoughts would be put into reality or executed throughout the conceptualization phase.

2. Formulate the constitution

Create the nonprofit’s constitution following conceptualization. You could consult with your coworkers and a legal professional. Overall, the constitution ought to have details of the following:

  • Organization’s name
  • Explanation and application of the NGO’s common seal and logo (also see step #4 below)
  • Location of the NGO
  • The organization’s mission
  • Vision (desired state of affairs in the development field of the NGO)
  • Goals of the NGOs
  • How many will be on the NGO’s board of directors or executive committee, and how will they be elected and removed from office?
  • Functions of the NGO’s secretariat
  • Quorums and meetings
  • controlling financial resources
  • Membership of the organization, if necessary, includes qualifications for membership, duties and tasks, rights and obligations, acceptance and termination of membership, etc.
  • Processes for amending the Constitution, such as who has the authority to modify it, what notification is required, and what percentage of voters should be required, among other things
  • Dissolution: should the necessity arise, how will the NGO be dissolved? What is the majority and who should decide on a resolution to dissolve?


According to the Trustees Inc Act, any assets and money left over after a trust has been dissolved are required to be given to another organization with comparable goals. It can also be given to the government. However, it cannot be distributed among the trustees, staff members of the NGO, or anyone else.

3. Identify trustees of the Nonprofit Organization

Choose the NGO’s Trustees once the draft constitution is complete. These ought to be eminent members of society who are enthusiastic about what you wish to undertake. Depending on what you want to do, they should be of various professions. They should be ready to work on a volunteer basis since they are not expecting payment. Trustees are the NGO/official Trust’s custodians. You can discuss your proposed constitution with them and, if necessary, make adjustments.

Afterward, call a formal meeting of the Trustee candidates you have chosen to approve the Constitution and consent to the NGO’s registration. At this meeting, you might also fill temporary Board posts. There should be meeting minutes available. (Step number 3 and step number 4 below should be completed concurrently.)

4. Design a logo and common Seal

Your NGO needs a common seal and a logo. A common seal is an embossed stamp (different from a date stamp) with the words “Common seal of the registered trustees of (name of NGO)” on it. A logo is a symbol that represents your organization. Also, the nature of the common seal and logo needs to be debated and decided with the named Trustees. The Constitution should refer to the Common seal and Emblem.

5. Register your Nonprofit with the Registrar General

Register your NGO with The Registrar General once your constitution is complete, and your trustees have been chosen. In general, they would need your constitution, a list of the members of your board of trustees, a completed form or affidavit, payment of a fee, a printed document bearing your common seal, and other information you may be required to provide. 

6. Register with CONGOMA

Subsequently, a nonprofit application must be submitted to CONGOMA for registration under the NGO Act. This should follow after receiving a Certificate of Incorporation from the Registrar General issued by the Ministry of Justice.

CONGOMA is recognized as a body for organizing NGOs in Malawi. Its duties include uniting NGOs’ interests, enhancing their capabilities, promoting a favorable environment, coordinating NGOs’ efforts, and helping NGOs comply with the NGO Act 2000.

Below are the documents to submit when registering with CONGOMA.

  • Form (available on request)
  • The NGO Constitution, in written form
  • a copy of the minutes from the first trustees meeting, where it was decided to form/register the NGO (these minutes are from the meeting of steps #3 and 4).
  • An outline of the NGO’s planned activities in Malawi in a short concept paper.
  • Particulars of Trustees and Directors, including their names, citizenship, jobs, and addresses, as stated in affidavits. It is one of the NGO’s legal documents. Hence, a Commissioner for Oath or a public notary must administer the oath and witness the signing along with an official seal. A legal person should prepare the affidavits, who may charge a fee.
  • A copy of the Trustees certified Declaration (i.e., stamped and signed) by an oath commissioner. You can do this when you register with the Registrar General. Further information on the declaration’s content and administration is available from the Registrar General.
  • A copy of the registration certificate from the registrar general
  • Payment of a nonrefundable processing fee of MK 3500 for Malawian NGOs and MK 5250 for international NGOs (this is subject to review at any time)


Also, a Malawian NGO that registers with CONGOMA must pay an annual membership subscription. These annual dues are periodically set by the CONGOMA Annual General Assembly.

7. Register with the NGO Board of Malawi

Under the NGO Act, the NGO Board of Malawi supervises NGOs’ operations on behalf of the government. Therefore, to fulfill this obligation, all Organizations must register with the NGO Board. According to the NGO Act, the following conditions must be met to register with the NGO Board:

  • a filled prescription form (available on request)
  • The organization’s charter
  • Payable registration costs  (prescribed by the board)
  • A list of the activities the organization intends to undertake
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other contracts with the Ministry or Ministries in charge of the actions the NGO in question will carry out
  • Evidence that the NGO is a CONGOMA member. This is a declaration that the non-profit will not participate in party politics.
  • An explanation of the NGO’s financing sources.


By and large, a nonprofit can be established by anyone who intends to undertake humanitarian services in the community.  However, its success depends on having a solid plan and marketing strategy.

To begin with, invest some time in knowing how to start a nonprofit organization. Your nonprofit will also need to possess a strong sense of purpose, entrepreneurial abilities, a business strategy, a way to measure success, and strong management abilities.

We would love to know if this article was helpful to you. Please share your comments and suggestions with us at the bottom of the post.

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