How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Arkansas

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Arkansas is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 10 steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Arkansas.


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Getting Started

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

Along with your Articles of Incorporation, you must include attachments that disclose the following information:

  • The names and addresses of your nonprofit’s initial directors
  • Other provisions, as deemed necessary

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

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

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Arkansas, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include any words that may infer it’s related to a government agency.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include words like “university,” “bank,” “credit union,” or “trust” as a separate word to convey the organization is engaged in banking or a trust.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include any terms that could be considered grossly offensive.
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Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Arkansas, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Arkansas.

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, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

Arkansas Business Entity Search
To operate in Arkansas, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Arkansas 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: Select a Type of Corporation

Check the appropriate box for your nonprofit corporation from the following options:

  • Public – Benefit Corporation
  • Mutual – Benefit Corporation
  • Religious Corporation

Step 3: Confirm Any Members

Disclose whether or not your nonprofit will have members by checking the appropriate box.

Step 4: Disclose the Power of the Corporation

You have two options for disclosing the power of your nonprofit corporation so check the box that applies to your organization:

  • Option A agrees that the organization will use suggested language from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Option B requires an alternate description of the power of the corporation if you don’t plan to use the IRS’ suggested language.

Step 5: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

You have two options for describing the purpose of your nonprofit corporation so check the box that applies to your organization:

  • Option A confirms you formed the organization exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and/or scientific purposes, using the IRS’ suggested language.
  • Option B requires an alternate description of the nonprofit’s purpose if you don’t plan to use the IRS’ suggested language.

Your organization’s purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics 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 6: Outline the Distribution of Your Nonprofit’s Assets Upon Dissolution

You can outline your nonprofit’s policies for distribution of assets upon dissolution in one of two ways so check the box that applies to your organization:

  • Option A confirms all assets will be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
  • Option B requires an alternate description of the distribution of assets upon dissolution if you don’t plan to use the IRS’ suggested language.

In order to qualify for tax-exempt or 501(c)(3) status, the distribution of assets upon dissolution must go to approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to section six of this sample document.

Step 7: Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in Arkansas. When filling out this formation document, you must list the name and street address of your registered agent in article seven.

A registered agent serves as the official contact for your nonprofit by receiving official documents on its behalf, such as compliance notices and tax documents. Your registered agent also is responsible for accepting service of process documents in the event of a lawsuit.

A registered agent for a nonprofit corporation in Arkansas must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must have a physical address in the state of Arkansas
  • Must be available during all normal business hours

In Arkansas, unlike many other states, it’s possible to act as your own registered agent.

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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 8: List Your Incorporator Information

All incorporators who participated in completing and submitting this formation document must include their name, signature, and address in article eight. An incorporator doesn’t have to be a person affiliated with your organization; they can be a lawyer or another party.

Step 9: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In Arkansas, the Articles of Incorporation for a domestic nonprofit doesn’t include sections for information about the organization’s initial board of directors or any supplemental provisions. But, in order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, you must disclose this information within your Articles of Incorporation.

Here’s what you need to know to disclose this information successfully:

Name Your Board of Directors

The state of Arkansas doesn’t require you to name your board of directors on your Articles of Incorporation. But, if you plan to file for 501(c)(3) status, you’ll need to include information for at least three directors in your formation documents. 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.”

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 Arkansas article.

Provide Contact Information for the Annual Reporting Form

To receive an annual reporting form, complete the last page of the document with appropriate contact information and submit it along with your Articles of Incorporation to the Arkansas Secretary of State.

Step 10: File Formation Documents

You have three options for filing your Articles of Incorporation in Arkansas: online, by mail, or in person.

File the Arkansas Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the Arkansas Corporations Online Filing System

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail or in Person

Download Form


Fee: $45 online, $50 by mail or in person

Filing Address:
Arkansas Secretary of State
Business and Commercial Services
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Ste. 250, Victory Building
Little Rock, AR 72201

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file the Articles of Incorporation in Arkansas?

Submit your completed Articles of Incorporation to the Arkansas Secretary of State online, by mail, or in person.

How do I get a copy of my Articles of Incorporation in Arkansas?

You can obtain a copy of your organization’s Articles of Incorporation in Arkansas by ordering one through the Arkansas Secretary of State.

How do I find nonprofits in Arkansas?

Use our handy Arkansas 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Arkansas. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

Arkansas Nonprofit Quick Links

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