My moms’ support group was a registered nonprofit and we just voted to dissolve. We're going through all the proper channels to disband. However, some members wish to continue as a moms’ social group. Is it ok to continue using our nonprofit name (without being a 501(c)(3) group)?
You are raising a lot of the issues from my regular question: “What Do We Mean When We Say Nonprofit?” You are dealing here with both the state corporate law and federal tax law. It is easy to get them confused.
Normally, when you act under state law to dissolve a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, you decide to dissolve, disband, and distribute your net remaining assets for charitable purposes. Ultimately, you will notify the IRS that you have dissolved and your corporate name will come off the IRS exempt list.
Under state law, however, it is normally possible to stop the termination before it is complete if a sufficient number of the members and directors votes to do so. In that case, you would continue as a state nonprofit corporation and a charitable organization on the IRS list. You would have to continue to act as a 501(c)(3) organization or you would lose your (c)(3) exemption. You could amend your articles of incorporation and switch your activities to those of a social club, but would have to give your assets away for charitable purposes and get a new exemption designation from the IRS.
You could also continue through with your dissolution so that your current name would become available for a new corporation at the state level. Or you could change your name before you complete the dissolution so that your current name becomes available for those who want to use it for a social club. In either case, you will have to notify the IRS of the changes and deal with the charitable assets. The new group will need to file new articles of incorporation for a social club exemption if it wants its own exempt status.
You have a lot of options. But if you are going to cease being a charity, you have to deal with the charitable assets and the IRS. Those who want to continue as a social club will have to assure that they have the authority from the state to use the name, and will want to get their own exemption from the IRS.