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How To Start And Register An NGO In Nigeria [Step By Step Guide To Starting Non Profit Organization]

how to start register ngo nigeria

How to Start & Register An NGO in Nigeria

Guide To Starting Your Own Non Profit  Organization, Charity Organization In Nigeria

This article is a business guide, designed to provide you with a step-by-step guideline on how to start and register an NGO in Nigeria.

Philanthropists are practically nonexistent in Nigeria, as very few people give for the sake of “giving” (without getting or expecting something in return). This, unfortunately, is the idea behind the creation of most so-called NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) in Nigeria today, as majority of them are out to make profit, which goes against the tenets and values of the sector. In fact, many of the so-called NGOs in the country even seek to defraud the very set of people they are meant to help.

However, in the midst of the fraudulent NGOs, there are few “real” NGOs, who are into core philanthropic works, aimed at improving the lives of the poor, the needy and the less privileged in the Nigerian society.

So, if your aim is to improve people’s lives and you’re looking to set up an NGO to that effect, follow this article with rapt attention.

How to Register An Association, Non Governmental Organization in Nigeria

Note: By “association”, we mean “Non-Governmental Organization”, which is aptly known as NGO.

Like every new business, a new NGO must have a name and must be registered with CAC – Corporate Affairs Commission.

However, before setting out to obtain requisite certificates (from CAC), there are several things to put in place, some of which have been outlined below:

Create a Name For Your NGO

Every entity has a name; hence, create a name for your new NGO, and ensure that the name corresponds with your interest(s) or area of focus. For instance, an NGO for women empowerment can adopt a name like “No Women No life” or “Movement for Women Empowerment”.

Once you’ve created a suitable name for your NGO, you can proceed to the next stage.

Create a Business Plan For Your NGO

Although, an NGO is not your typical everyday (profit-oriented) business, it still needs a plan that details proposed operational pattern(s), goals, objectives and other relevant information about the new setup.

Basically, a plan for an NGO should contain some or all of the following:

  • Name of the organization.
  • Values
  • Main activities
  • Mission, goals and objectives
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Funds stream or sources
  • Location (locality, state or nationwide)
  • And more.

Once you have a solid plan, you are one step away from starting an NGO.

Appoint incorporated Trustees

In Nigeria, NGOs can only be registered as an incorporated trustee or as a firm limited by guarantee (registered with the acknowledgment and authority of the AGF – Attorney-General of the Federation). So, most startups are registered as “incorporated trustees.

It is important to note that in appointing trustees, there are several binding laws, some of which will be discussed later in this article.

Once you have your trustees, you can proceed to the next stage.

Approach CAC

Corporate Affairs Commission is the overhead agency in charge of registering all privately owned bodies and businesses in the country. The CAC, with the assistance of a solicitor, would search their database to check if there is a duplicate business carrying the same or similar name. Once you’re cleared, the commission would approve the name.

Subsequently, you’d be provided with an application form, duly accompanied by a “memo of guidance”. The contents of the memo of guidance and the application would be looked into in the subsequent sections.

Arrange Publication of Notice

This entails making a publication in 3 or more daily newspapers (like Punch, Tribune and This Day); detailing your trustees, name of NGO, target location and other key details. The publication would demand objections (if any) from the general public, with a lapse period of 28 days.

Prepare NGO Constitution

All NGOs are, by obligation, required to have a constitution, which would serve as a legal guide to the smooth running of the organization. Basically, the service of a lawyer, with sound knowledge of the Nigerian constitution, should be hired. This is to avoid conflict(s) between the NGOs constitution and the law of land.

Prepare “Minutes of Meeting”

The “minutes of meeting” indicating where and when the board of trustees were appointed, lists of appointees and absentees among others should be drafted.

Also, the “minutes of meeting” detailing the adoption of the special clause in the NGO’s constitution should be drafted. And both sets of “Minutes of Meeting” should be signed by the Chairman & Secretary of the board.


The required forms and documents to be submitted to Corporate Affairs Commision include: three copies of completed application form, an application letter, evidence of publication (three daily newspapers showing the publication notice), passport photographs (2 pieces) of trustee(s), bank draft (to the tune of 20,000 Naira), and copies of constitution among others.

All the above listed forms and documents are to be submitted physically to the CAC office.

Obtain the Certificate of Incorporation

After the whole process, if all requirements are met. you’d be issued with a “certificate of incorporation”, which effectively makes your NGO a registered one in the country. You can then begin operation without hindrance.

Can I Register an NGO Online in Nigeria?

This is one of fhe FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions – on this topic. However, the answer to this question is NO, given the multiple stages, inclusion the physical screening and form submission, involved.

Therefore, if you are looking to get your new NGO registered, be ready to get your boots on the ground.

Laws Governing NGOs in Nigeria

An NGO is neither a government organization nor is it a profit-making venture, but rather a charity organization, an empowerment group, a foundation or a community development body

In any case, there are certain binding laws that guide the conducts and activities of NGOs in Nigeria, with restrictions where required.

Some of these laws include:

  • An NGO’s trustee must be at least 18 years of age; he/she must not be declared bankrupt; he/she must be of sound mind; and he/she must not be a convicted fraudster. Basically, a trustee must be someone with a credible income source.
  • Going by CAMA – Companies & Allied Matters Act (1990) – an NGO can only be registered as a limited liability company (incorporated trustees) or as a “company limited by guarantee”.
  • NGOs registered under incorporated trustees are mandated to declare their yearly revenues to the appropriate regulatory bodies.
  • Non-Government Organizations are mandated to register with the FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Services) and obtain TIN – Tax Identification Number. However, their tax requirements are relatively flexible, compared to other businesses.
  • NGOs, as a precondition for the issuance of certificate of Incorporation, are mandated by CAC to obtain a clearance certificate (of financial integrity) from EFCC.
  • NGOs, like every corporate organization and individual, have the right to own properties in any part of the country.
  • By law, the trustees, who created an NGO, have control over its finances, management and operational pattern among others, without undue harassment or interference any third-party, including the Federal/State/Local government.
  • And many more.

Organizational Structure of NGO in Nigeria

Like other sectors, the organizational structure of Non-Governmental Organizations is broadly classified into two: top management and staff members. This is the template adopted by all standard NGOs across the globe.

Typically, the top management cadre comprises the key decision makers of the NGO, and these include members of the board, Chief Executive Officer, Directors, and Special Advisors among others.

A person of interest in the top management cadre is the Chief Executive Officer. who is otherwise referred to as the Executive Director. He/She is the leading executive figure, who oversees the core activities of the NGO, and delegates/assigns duties as required. In most cases, typical of NGOs in Nigeria, the founder is usually the CEO.

The staff members constitute the executive arm of an NGO, and they make up the running engine of the organization. This group of people are usually subdivided into several departments like admin, communications, HR, operations and so on.

In summary, the organizational structure of a typical NGO in Nigeria is more or less the same as those of other business units in the country, notably with the “overhead cadre” (top management) and the “boots on ground” (staff members).

List of registered NGO in Nigeria

Below is a list of ten prominent NGOs in Nigeria:

  • Society for African Safety & Development
  • Coalition of Human Rights Organization
  • Women and Development Movement
  • Poverty Alleviation for the Poor Initiative
  • Relief, Peace & Development Initiative
  • Action Family Foundation
  • Action Aid for the Unemployed
  • Old People Support International
  • Royal Integrity & Accountability Organization
  • Society for Employment & Self Reliance

How to Find Vacancies in NGO in Nigeria

All NGOs have core staff members, who are professionals in the fields of Administration, Project or Programme Management, Accounting, Health, System and Data Analysis and so on. Hence, at one point or another, either due to expansion or to fill vacant positions, NGOs advertise vacancies.

To find vacancies in NGOs in Nigeria, you can register for NGO job updates and notifications on prominent job sites like Jobgurus and Hotnigerianjobs.

For more helpful business ideas, visit Creativity Column.

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  1. Shola Ilori

    June 6, 2019 at 9:31 PM

    Starting an NGO in Nigeria without hiring an expert will amount to waste of time. I encourage anyone trying to start one to hand it over to the xperts

  2. Junior Ozu

    June 6, 2019 at 11:05 PM

    I appreciate this

  3. Fifelomo

    June 7, 2019 at 6:13 AM

    Useful tips, thank you.

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