How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Missouri

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Missouri is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 12 steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Missouri.


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Getting Started

To start a domestic nonprofit corporation in Missouri, you must file the Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Corporation. This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to forming a Missouri nonprofit.

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out the Missouri Articles of Incorporation is to list your nonprofit corporation’s name. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Missouri:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Missouri, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t lead the public to believe the organization exists for a purpose other than what’s listed in its Articles of Incorporation.
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Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Missouri, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Missouri.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below.

Missouri Business Entity Search
To operate in Missouri, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Missouri Business Entity Search tool.

Domain Name Search
We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Find a Domain Now

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Federal Trademark Search
You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to form your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search
A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 2: Confirm Your Corporation Type

Confirm whether your corporation is a “public benefit” or a “mutual benefit” corporation by entering whichever is applicable.

Step 3: Disclose Your Nonprofit’s Duration

Most incorporators form their nonprofit corporations without an end date in mind. If your organization does have a specific end date, however, you must disclose that in article three. Otherwise, leave this section blank to indicate a “perpetual” duration.

Step 4: Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in Missouri. Either an individual or a business with a physical address in Missouri may fill this role. A registered agent’s responsibilities include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity.

Requirements for this section include:

  • The name of your chosen registered agent
  • The street address of your registered agent’s registered office (this can’t include a P.O. Box)
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Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide.

Step 5: List Your Incorporator Information

An incorporator is any person who participates in the completion and submission of the Articles of Incorporation. List the name and address of each incorporator in article five.

Step 6: Confirm Any Members

Confirm whether or not your nonprofit corporation will have members by checking the appropriate box in article six.

Step 7: Outline the Distribution of Assets Upon Dissolution

In article seven, describe how your nonprofit corporation’s assets will be distributed upon its dissolution. If you need more space, use an attachment.

Distribution of assets upon dissolution must be for approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to the sixth section of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) suggested language for corporations and associations.

Step 8: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In article eight, describe your nonprofit’s purpose. That purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics for your nonprofit to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

Step 9: Choose an Effective Date for Your Filing

The effective date of your Articles of Incorporation will be the date you file them unless you list a different date in article nine.

Step 10: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional statements in your Articles of Incorporation. Because the Missouri formation document doesn’t have a section related to your initial board of directors, use an attachment to provide details on that topic.

Name Your Initial Board of Directors

You must name at least three directors to serve on your initial board of directors in order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status. When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of directors, follow these requirements:

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”
  • Include a mailing address for each director.

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Missouri article.

Step 11: List Your Contact Information

List a contact name and address to whom the state may return your filed formation documents.

Step 12: File Formation Documents

There are two ways to file your Missouri Articles of Incorporation: online or by mail.

File the Missouri Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the Missouri Secretary of State

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form


Fee: $25

Mailing Address:
Secretary of State, Corporation Division
P.O. Box 778
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start a 501(c)(3) in Missouri?

To start a 501(c)(3) organization in Missouri, you must file the Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Corporation with the Mississippi Secretary of State following these IRS guidelines.

Once the state of Missouri processes your formation documents, you may then complete the application process for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Missouri?

Filing the Articles of Incorporation for a domestic nonprofit corporation in Missouri costs $25.

Missouri Nonprofit Quick Links

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