Organizational Requirements

To be officially recognized by the City of Cincinnati as a community council and to participate in programs administered by the city and Invest in Neighborhoods, a neighborhood organization must be incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Ohio. Further, a community council must have bylaws stating, among other things, the purpose and mission of the organization. And, ideally, the organization should be designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) charitable entity.


In accordance with Ohio Revised Code § 1702, the organization shall file with the Secretary of State, 30 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43266-0418. The Articles of Incorporation shall include:

  1. Name
  2. Location of principal office
  3. Purpose
  4. Names and addresses of at least three individuals as initial trustees

A filing fee of $125.00 must be submitted with application.

Statement of Continuing Existence
Every five years, the organization must file a statement of continuing existence with the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $25.00. See “Instructions for Completing Statement of Continued Existence” for complete information on these filings (last page, this section).


To qualify for grants from many foundations and corporations and to grant deductions for individual contributions, an organization must have a 501(c)(3) charitable tax exemption from the IRS. Obtain IRS Form 1023 for application.

To qualify, the organization must be organized and operate exclusively for one or more charitable purposes, included in which are social welfare activities designed to:
1) lessen neighborhood tensions
2) eliminate prejudice and discrimination
3) defend human and civil rights secured by law
4) combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquencies

IRS review of applications typically takes three to six months, and their examination is quite rigorous. It is highly recommended that the services of an attorney experienced in such filings be retained to prepare the application.

Organizations are required to submit annual informational returns (Form 990, Form 990EZ, Form 990 Schedule A) unless annual gross receipts are normally $25,000 or less (three-year average).

For more information, see State of Ohio guidelines:


As required by Ohio corporate law, each organization must have bylaws or a code of regulations governing the conduct of the affairs and management of property of the corporation. Standard provisions include:

  1. Members – qualifications, rights, dues, meetings, elections and voting quorum
  2. Trustees – meetings, elections, qualifications, voting quorum, term of office
  3. Officers – election, term, duties
  4. Committees
  5. Indemnification of trustees, officers, employees and volunteers
  6. Amendment, revocation, or restatement of regulations

See Model Bylaws for an example of community council bylaws

The City of Cincinnati also requires a statement of the geographic area served and a clause disavowing discrimination in employment or membership based on race, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual or affectation preference.

See City of Cincinnati neighborhood page for recognized boundaries:

D&O Insurance and General Liability

For all organizations receiving monies from the City of Cincinnati, all officers and employees with fiduciary responsibilities must be covered by surety insurance (Directors and Officers Insurance) and General Liability. Currently, such insurance is provided for all recognized community councils through Invest in Neighborhoods.  For more information go to the Insurance pages.


Detailed information about filing for incorporation as an Ohio not-for-profit organization and for tax exempt status (501(c)(3)) is available at

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