How to Register a Society (NGO) in India

Learn how to register a society in India. Societies are non profit, no government organizations registered under Societies Registration Act, 1860

Lately, I have done research about how to register non-profit organizations in India. I thought of summarily present my findings in this article so that others on the same quest can be benefited.

In India, Non Profit Organizations (NPOs) are often called the Non Government Organizations (NGOs). An NGO could be registered as one of the following three ways:

SEE ALSO: Difference between trust and society

In India, societies are governed by a central act called Societies Registration Act, 1860. All the states in India have adopted this act (with or without modifications) to create authorities at state level that register non-profit organizations.

  • The main documents in the registration of a society are Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Rules and Regulations (RR). These two documents are written/printed/typed on plain papers.
  • Minimum seven people are required to form a society. There is no upper limit on the number of members.
  • These members have various designations that can be decided among themselves. Common designations are President, Vice-Present, Secretary, Joint-Secretary and Treasurer etc.
  • These members are collectively called the Governing Body. This body directs and controls the functioning of the society.
  • All the members of society are elected for a specific period (which should be mentioned in the MOA). After expiry of this period; the post is filled through elections in which members of the Governing Body take part.
  • Because of the involvement of election process –societies are more democratic than trusts. But at the same time –power struggle and politics may also creep in as drawbacks. In case of societies, through election politics, it is possible to remove the person who had initiated the society in the first place.
  • Unlike trusts, societies function only within a specified geographical area. To make an all India level society, you would need at least eight members (of which five should be from different states of India)
  • The Memorandum of Association must mention:
    • Name of the Society
    • Address of the registered office
    • Names, designations, addresses and occupations of the members of first governing body
    • Objectives of the society
  • No stamp paper is required for MOA and RR
  • Most important part of the MOA that you should pay attention to is objectives. You should be as thorough as possible in writing down objectives so that you can function smoothly without any problems.
  • Related people (i.e. belonging to the same family) cannot be part of the governing body.
  • Members of the Governing Body can not draw any remuneration from the society funds.
  • While executing their duties as members, expenses incurred by the members of the Governing Body can be reimbursed from the society funds.

Important

  • Society income is exempted from tax. For this, after registration, you need to acquire a certificate from the Income Tax Department. This certificate is called 12A
  • Donations to the society are also exempted from tax (i.e. the donor will not have to pay tax on the amount of donation). For this, you need to acquire 80G certificate from Income Tax Department. Getting 80G and advertising that you have this certificate does encourage donors because they get tax benefit on donation.
  • Usually lawyers and practicing CAs can help you in registration of society –but I guess a lawyer is better person if you need help in formulating your MOA and RR. CAs don’t know the nitty-gritty of the legal stuff.
  • If you can write MOA and RR on your own –and sure that you have done a good job –then all you need is help of a notary who will take your papers and prepare them for the presentation before the registrar.
  • After registration, for acquiring 12A and 80G certificates you may need to take services of a practicing CA. They charge hefty fee for these services.

SEE ALSO: How to apply for 80G Exemption

If you need more information regarding this matter, you may comment on this article. I will see if I can help you with information.

Comments

  1. saurabh says

    hi lalit
    i want to register a society and have 3 questions
    1.) is there any way i can assure that i wont be removed as a president
    2.) currently we are 7 people but not from different states, so later whenwe expand, can we become a national society by adding more members?
    3.) can an indian society work abroad?

    • says

      As societies are run in a democratic way, you could be ousted from the governing body if other members turn against you by majority. Indian society can not work in other countries. There you need to register NGOs as per the laws of those countries.

  2. jasmeet says

    Sir I am jasmeet
    I really want to open my Ngo in which I will collect donation to various schools and colleges and donate it to orphanage homes
    I am 17 year old
    I live in Pune
    Being 17 can I run my own ngo

  3. Raj says

    Hi Lalit,

    Thank you so much for providing valuable information and I really appreciate.

    At present, I am NRI, I intend to provide education at lower cost for rural people by forming up a society. I wantedto know if NRI can be part of governing body ( President or vice president) or trust.

    Raj

    • says

      Hi Raj, there is significant bit of confusion on whether an NRI can be a trustee. An NRI is outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts, that is the primary reason of concern. So, different people will give you different opinion. If I were you, I would simply keep all the legal jumble aside and focus on the real social work that I want to do. To be on the safer side, you may find some trusted people in India… make them the trustees… and you provide whatever assistance you can provide to the trust. Legal confusions must not halt a person’s desire to do something good for the society.

  4. Dr R K Gupta says

    we applied in Delhi for an all India levl society .
    1. WE have been refused use of word foundation in name e. Is that legal?
    2.How many founding members and from how many states are exactly needed for National level society

  5. Rishab jain says

    H lalit

    I want to register a society with the name XYZ foundation, but when i meet the registrar , he said foundation word is not applicable.
    Is it right?
    If , yes please suggest , what would be the best suited name?

  6. Vikrant Jaiswal says

    I’ve two questions first is if i want to register a society in national level then is it necessary to five members are from five different states.
    Second one is if my ngo registered then from where we can raise fund

  7. Ramesh Agrawal says

    Lalitji,

    I am from Nagpur,Maharashtra. I am a Civil Engineer cum Govt. Road contractor working with Govt. departments like MAHAPWD,NMC National Highways etc.

    I am interested in forming an NGO that will work for educating people about Road safety and awareness about traffic rules. also I wish to inform people of India about importance of discipline in life through seminars,short films etc. In short I wish to make my people disciplined. For this purpose I wish to set up an NGO.

    Please guide me that can an NGO with such kind of motto be formed?

  8. Ramesh Agrawal says

    Lalitji,

    I am from Nagpur,Maharashtra. I am a Civil Engineer cum Govt. Road contractor working with Govt. departments like MAHAPWD,NMC National Highways etc.

    I am interested in forming an NGO that will work for educating people about Road safety and awareness about traffic rules. also I wish to inform people of India about importance of discipline in life through seminars,short films etc. In short I wish to make my people disciplined. For this purpose I wish to set up an NGO.

    Please guide me that can an NGO with such kind of motto be formed?

  9. Apoorva says

    Hi Lalit,

    Thank you so much for the information! I am left with the below mentioned queries now!! Please guide!

    1. Who all can be the part of governing body? Can govt. employees working with Public Sector banks or any other govt employee be one of the seven members of governing body?

    2. If one person wishes to open an ngo, then how is that person remunerated? In case, where the governing member is also an active worker of the Ngo.

    Regards

    Apoorva

    • says

      Hi Apoorva,

      Government employees are allowed to be trustees and governing body members but they MUST NOT draw any benefit from such association. Also, the objectives or the organization must not be in conflict with the stand of government. For example, a government employee would be in trouble if he joins an NGO to protest against government’s policies. As for remuneration, well, NGOs are for social work and not for drawing benefits from it. Nevertheless, trustees are allowed to take reasonable remuneration from the trust funds.

  10. Prakash says

    Hi Lalit,

    I had a question from the 12th point : “Members of the Governing Body can not draw any remuneration from the society funds.”

    So how they receive wage/salary for the service. Eg : Old Age home, members working for it.

    Regards
    Prakash

    • says

      Prakash, Governing Body members don’t receive wages/salaries. The staff hired for managing old age homes do get wages because they are employees. Governing Body members are not employees. They do their work as a charity, as a volunteer.

  11. Rajib Kumar Parichha says

    Respected Sir,
    Thanks a lot for such a great information.But i want to know about the society registration process of Odisha and where can it be done and how many days it will take to complete registration process and to get the registration number. Please do answer me. May Lord bless and grace you.

  12. nitin charbes says

    Hello,
    I want to form the group which will adopt and help to educate the children’s of the farmers of Viderbha region by virtual adoption and donations. The children’s will live with their parents and the person adopting those chid will contribute in their education expanses. At Present I am in Italy to complete my PhD and after coming back to India i am planning to start the coaching classes for under privilege students almost for free. we will charge them just around 1000 rupees per month for all four subjects of 11th and 12 class (Science). We will donate this money to the society (Which we want to from)after expanses of the coaching classes. This socity will adopt the farmers child as I mentioned above of the vidharbha region to support them in education. Here i want to know for this purpose do i need to have to register a society or an NGO. Looking forward for your valuable guidance
    also kindly tell me how much the CA charge to get 12 and 80 c certificates. it will be the great favour for me if you tell me in my case what i can do?

    Kind regards
    Nitin Charbe

    • Prashant Setya says

      Dear Nitin ,
      I am also interested in providing eduction to all on very low cost . I am media person, Commercial Photographer , IT professional and want to develop education programs ,
      Do you think we can come togeather for a common cause.
      Warm Regards
      Prashant

      • nitin charbes says

        hello Prashant ,
        sorry for late reply,, i will be very happy if the like minded people come together for common cause. can you please tell me from which part of India you r from and whats your plans? you can write me on nitin.charbe at=the=rate unimi.it. also you can search my name on FB.

        waiting for your replay

        Regards

        Nitin Charbe

  13. Harpal Surya says

    Dear Sir, I am also working in Gauputra Sena, main works of this sansthan is helps to cows and others animals. The Name of the President in Gauputra Sena is mr. Sampat Singh. But our teams is not happay to President mr. Sampat Singh, and we are also decides to registered new Society. We are also decides to name of new society is Hindputra Gauraksha Dal. Kindly send me reply for how will be register procedures and fees of registertion. Thank You

  14. s.febin says

    sir, read trust registration process. kindly send me reply for How will be register the name of the trust and what is the procedures. where is the office for vikaspri area

  15. sam says

    Dear sir/madam.
    Your articles are of great knowledge thanks for sharing it to us.
    I have a query,
    How to find, a society or ngo is officially registered and not fake,becouse now a days so many societies and ngo are running small business and in this way they cheat the innocent public.

  16. Kamlesh Ujgare says

    We have many objectives and want to work in different fields, as our group involves expertise from different fields. e.g Doctors, Civil engineers, IT professionals, Professors. How do we go to define objectives.?

  17. Shanti says

    there is one WRONG info above. NOT 5, but we need at least 7 people from 7 different states, to register a National level society. And I think this sort of National society can be registered only from Delhi…

  18. Abhinav says

    can a minor form a trust??….if yes, where to go after drafting the MOA and RR…plzzz reply fast its urgent!!!

      • priti says

        you need to go to the registrar of societies office and collect information about required documents for registration. after you finally decide your members and moa . moa and other documents. a minor cannot run a trust but with the help of legal guardian or parent he can form a trust and after attaining majority he can become a trustee.

    • Sandeep says

      There are provisions in the law for minor to form the trust. So minor can form the trust by satisfying few conditions.

  19. Atul says

    As we know that NGO are Non-Profit entities so how does the governing body or the employees are paid, if a person is devoting his full time in an NGO as a governing member of the society then how will he earn to live with dignity…..kindly guide on this.
    Regards
    Atul

    • CA Samir Samal says

      Registration u/s 12AA is obtained from Income Tax department immediately and generally it takes around 3-4 months. If department does not give any response within 6 months, it will be deemed to be approved and registered u/s 12AA.

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