How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in Nigeria

Cersai Stark

Cersai Stark

The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) serves as the organization for the creation and management of nonprofits and corporate entities in Nigeria. Hence, individuals seeking how to start a nonprofit must acquaint themselves with the governing procedures for NGO establishment. Furthermore, nonprofits must be registered, regulated, and under the control of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The purpose of this article is to provide a guide on how to start a nonprofit in Nigeria and the different activities that accompany the process.


How to start a nonprofit
How to start a nonprofit


  • An organization requires a minimum of two trustees to register the entity 
  • When registering, an individual will need to obtain a set of incorporation forms from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
  • An NGO must manually apply for a tax clearance certificate at the integrated tax office where it is registered


What are the guidelines on how to start a nonprofit in Nigeria?

The steps to register an NGO with the Corporate Affairs Commission are as follows.

1. Seek expert assistance

You must retain the service of a qualified attorney who can help guide you through the registration procedures. Particularly, this is to avoid issues that you may be unable to handle during the cataloging process. By and large, the attorney will be responsible for handling the pre- and post-transactional processes. 

Likewise, every other step of the registration, including requesting permission to form an NGO with one of the available names, drafting the constitution, and meeting minutes, would also require the assistance of a professional attorney.

2. Decide on an NGO name

This is the second step to consider when seeking how to start a nonprofit. Be sure that the name you choose has some relationship to or corresponds with the organization’s objectives. All things considered, should the first name be rejected, you still have the opportunity to choose three or more names. 

Also, your solicitor can help you look up the availability of the NGO name you have selected in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) registry.

3. Choose your board of trustees 

All selected trustees must be legally eligible to take on the role. According to section 823, an organization requires a minimum of two trustees to register the entity. Likewise, the application must clearly identify who will be chosen among the trustees as the organization’s Chairman and Secretary.

4. Contact your lawyer to publicize the NGO’s registration interest

In accordance with the law, your lawyer will publish a notice of intention to register the NGO. Altogether, the publication will include the organization’s name, its aims and objectives, trustees’ names, and a request for objections within 28 days of the NGO’s registration. This information will be publicized in three (3) national dailies, one of which will be a local newspaper with wide distribution in the region where the organization is based.

5. Compile all incorporation document

This is also one critical step in your journey on how to start a nonprofit. To begin with, you will need to obtain a set of incorporation forms from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). This should include a Memorandum for application advice.

Afterward, all incorporation paperwork should be assembled by your solicitor. The paperwork document comprises the properly completed application form, the letter of application, the original newspaper articles, copies of the NGO constitution as written, the aforementioned meeting minutes, passport-sized photos of the Trustees, the impression of the NGO’s common seal, etc.

6. Submit compilation for registration 

You can go ahead to submit the properly completed application documents for registration with the CAC. In addition to the submitted documents, you must include the home addresses and the trustees’ signatures on the application form together with two passport photos of each trustee.

Prior to this, each trustee must have properly deposited a trust declaration form with the High Court of Nigeria.

By and large, the complete registration process might take up to two months. This is primarily because of the 28-day period for newspaper publication. Forthwith, if your application satisfies the standards upon review, it will be given approval and certification.

7. Apply for tax exemption 

Upon completing the process of how to start a nonprofit, you can go ahead to apply for tax exemption. Similarly, an NGO must manually apply for a tax clearance certificate at the integrated tax office where it is registered. After filling out the procedures, the nonprofit will be given a tax exemption certificate.


Without registration, an NGO cannot effectively operate in the nation. In the same vein, if the NGO is registered in accordance with local regulations, it has the liberty to undertake activities across its region. 

Hence, individuals seeking how to start a nonprofit should consider incorporating their organizations from the beginning to gain access to the many benefits that come with registration. 

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share your comments and suggestions with us at the bottom of this post. 

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