3 ways to open a foundation in Colombia

Table of contents:

3 ways to open a foundation in Colombia
3 ways to open a foundation in Colombia

There are many ways to help, and foundations are a great way to do so. Whether you have a defined aid plan or simply the desire to assist others, here we show you step by step the process to legally establish a foundation and thus be able to help the people who need it most.


Method 1 of 3: Determine the type of foundation to create

Create an Educational Scholarship Fund Step 1
Create an Educational Scholarship Fund Step 1

Step 1. Learn about the reasons for establishing a foundation

Foundations are established to carry out specific projects, programs and activities that differentiate them from other organizations, whether commercial or non-profit.

  • A foundation's main purpose is to help a specific community, contribute to its improvement or that of its associates and not receive monetary benefit for this activity. For this reason, a foundation is included in the list of non-profit organizations.
  • Even so, a foundation manages financial resources and can present economic surpluses that are usually donated or reinvested in its social purpose.
  • Among the most common causes for which a foundation is established are to support and train low-income communities or groups of people with a common purpose, protect vulnerable communities, stimulate culture, promote causes of social improvement such as cooperation, education, work and rehabilitation and social inclusion, promoting values among people or as a way of retribution to society.
  • Foundations can be created by public bodies to generate and promote development models and public policies that benefit the general population.
  • Foundations can also be established by companies that have the interest or need to generate social responsibility strategies.
Set Goals Step 2
Set Goals Step 2

Step 2. Define your goals

Having clear the main objectives to create a foundation will be much easier to be able to constitute it and make it fully fulfill its functions.

  • The first objective to constitute a foundation is to have a real will to help. Without this first requirement, no foundation will be able to carry out its plans and projects in the best way.
  • It is important to be clear about the problem to be solved and to know which social group this help can reach. Identify the social causes and the human component that can benefit from the existence of your foundation. Get advice from established foundations to learn more about their operation.
  • Determine the patrimony that the foundation will have. Every foundation has the legal obligation to have an established patrimony that can ensure its existence, as well as an economic model with which it can carry out its business name.
  • It is important that you also determine the income that your foundation will obtain, the economic activities that it can carry out and the ways in which it can spend or invest the profits.
  • Determine the number of people who will constitute the foundation. A foundation can be created by a natural or legal person or by an agreement between several people.
Finish a Father's Parental Rights Step 10
Finish a Father's Parental Rights Step 10

Step 3. Find out about your rights

Establishing a foundation gives you certain rights vis-à-vis the state and the community.

  • The state has the obligation to guarantee all the rights that the constitution grants to your foundation, such as its right to exist, to calmly fulfill its functions and to have all the advice and when necessary.
  • Your foundation has the right of association. This right allows all types of people to come together and form groups in favor of common ideals.
  • Your foundation also has the right to dispose of its resources, sponsor all kinds of programs, develop companies or micro-enterprises, and train human talent in the way that it deems best, as long as these activities comply with its statutes.
Change a Law Through the Democratic Process Step 2
Change a Law Through the Democratic Process Step 2

Step 4. Find out about your obligations

When you constitute a foundation, you enter into a social contract that implies certain responsibilities before the public administration and the community.

  • You must submit detailed reports each time the body that exercises control over your foundation asks you to do so.
  • You must make public the statutes that make up your foundation and make them available to the control and surveillance body.
  • If there are changes in the statutes, you must inform said body.
  • The books of your foundation must also be fully available to the control and surveillance entity.
  • Each year you must present the financial statements of the foundation, as well as the management reports and the execution of the budget for the year that ends and the one that begins.

Method 2 of 3: Establish the Foundation

Get a Restraining Order Step 7
Get a Restraining Order Step 7

Step 1. Prepare the charter of the foundation

In the constitutional act, all the founding members of the new organization express in writing their desire to create the foundation. The minutes usually contain several points and are written by an attorney.

  • The minutes must contain the name of the foundation.
  • Its corporate purpose and its assets.
  • Name, surname, address and nationality of the members who wish to legally establish the foundation. If they are legal persons, the record must include their business name.
  • The express desire to establish the foundation in writing.
  • The proof of the approval of the statutes.
  • Any type of agreement that exists between the members of the foundation and that may have an effect on its operation.
  • The election of a legal representative and a tax auditor with their functions clearly described.
  • The place and date on which the founding act is designated with the due signatures of the founding members and the representatives of legal entities.
Get a Restraining Order Step 13
Get a Restraining Order Step 13

Step 2. Write the bylaws

The founding act must also include the statutes with which the foundation will be governed. These statutes are permanent, unless it is necessary to modify them so that they can regulate new needs.

  • The statutes must include the corporate purpose of the foundation and describe its objectives and purpose.
  • Name and duration of the foundation. This means the name and the term of validity.
  • The address of the foundation.
  • The structure and functions of the administrative and management bodies. You must explain how the foundation will be managed (board, assembly or council), if there is going to be a president, who will be part of this administration and their functions and obligations.
  • The enumeration of the control and inspection bodies. Foundations usually have tax auditors who monitor assets and monetary liabilities.
  • The choice of a legal representative. This person will be in charge of legally representing the foundation when required.
  • The detailed description of the rights, duties and prohibitions that the founders, associates, adherents and honoraria have with the foundation. It also includes situations that warrant sanctions, reprimands, suspensions or expulsions.
  • The disposition on the patrimony. The patrimony of the foundation must be explained in detail. It is advisable to include detailed descriptions of the assets that are provided such as boundaries, real estate registrations and payment of taxes on the assets. In the same way, it must be detailed how the assets will be disposed of and the destination of the income.
  • The geographical environment where the foundation plans to carry out its work.
  • The ordinary and extraordinary meetings of the foundation.
  • The grounds for dissolution and liquidation of the foundation, as well as the procedure to do so.
Calculate Profit Step 9
Calculate Profit Step 9

Step 3. Make up the foundation's books

Although many foundations do not have tax obligations, they are subject to control and surveillance, which is why it is necessary to keep books where their operation is recorded and explained.

  • Non-profit entities must clearly keep accounting, correspondence and administration books.
  • According to the Colombian tax statute, foundations must keep accounting books where they clarify in detail their operations and a clear justification for each one of them.
  • They should also describe their inventory, balances, and money inflows and outflows, whether through contributions, donations, investments, or expenses.
  • Foundations are not required to submit the five basic financial statements that any commercial enterprise must submit. They should only present the balance sheet and the income statement.
  • Foundations must register their accounting books in the chamber of commerce of the place where they operate or, in specific cases, in the National Tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN).

Method 3 of 3: Register the foundation with the government

Be a Bookkeeper Step 5
Be a Bookkeeper Step 5

Step 1. Make the pre-registration queries

  • Confirm that the activity that your foundation plans to carry out can be carried out at the registered address and in the designated geographic area.
  • Verify that the name and the most important data of your foundation have not been registered previously.
  • If the foundation is going to use a trademark or logo, it must be established that it has not been registered.
  • Find out the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC). The ISIC determines the economic activity to be carried out by any organization registered with the chamber of commerce, in this case, your foundation. Here you can consult the ISIC that corresponds to your foundation.
Change a Law Through the Democratic Process Step 6
Change a Law Through the Democratic Process Step 6

Step 2. Register the foundation with the corresponding entity

By registering the foundation that you have just created, you give it a legal personality with rights and duties.

  • To register the foundation, the procedure must be done by public deed or private document in the chamber of commerce of the city or town where the foundation wants to settle and impart its functions.
  • You must attach the Single Business and Social Registration Form (RUES). This form can be found at the office of the chamber of commerce in your city.
  • You must also fill out the additional registration form with other entities (CAE).
  • You must fill out the certificate of existence and legal representation of the foundation.
  • You must obtain the Tax Identification Number NIT. If you don't have it, you must fill it out on the DIAN website.
  • It is necessary to register the books of your foundation that are required by the authorities.
  • Present the constitution document of your foundation with the statutes included and attach the letters of acceptance of the position of the people who will be in charge of the foundation.
  • Process the labor and industrial safety certificates.
Colombia RUT
Colombia RUT

Step 3. Formalize the RUT before the DIAN

When you have registered your foundation with the chamber of commerce, you must formalize its registration in the RUT (Unique Tax Registry). For this, the legal representative of the foundation must:

  • Create a bank account and present proof of ownership with an issue date of no more than one month.
  • Submit form 1648, which enables legal persons to open bank accounts and register with the RUT.
  • Present the certificate of existence of the foundation.

Step 4. Renew your foundation's registration

It is mandatory to renew the registration of your foundation every year.

  • The renewal must be done in the first three months with the corresponding rates and with the new Single Business and Social Registry (RUES) form.
  • You must also have the ISIC code.
  • The renewal and payment can be done through the Internet.


Please review all forms carefully before submitting them, as a slight mistake can result in unregistration


  • When registering the foundation, you must pay for the registration fees.
  • If your foundation needs an environmental license to operate, you must process it at the Administrative Department of the Environment (DAMA) or at the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (CAR).
  • There is the possibility of registering foreign foundations in Colombia. You can consult the requirements here: https://www.ccb.org.co/Insificaciones-y-renovaciones/Fundaciones-Asociaciones-y-Corporaciones/Registro-de-entidades-extranjeras-de-derecho-privado-sin-animo -profit
  • If you are going to renew the registration of your foundation, you must have the virtual services code of the chamber of commerce where you have registered.
  • Foundations cannot open branches and agencies.

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