How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Oregon

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Oregon is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 11 steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Oregon

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Getting Started

Step 1: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

The first step to filling out your Oregon 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 Oregon:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Oregon, including any reserved names. 
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t imply the organization serves a purpose other than what’s disclosed in the Articles of Incorporation. 
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t include the words “cooperative” or “limited partnership.”
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Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Oregon, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Oregon

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. 

Oregon Business Registry Database Search

To operate in Oregon, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search on the Oregon business registry database.

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

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 incorporate 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: Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in Oregon. Either an individual or an entity within the state of Oregon 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 completing Articles Two and Three include:

  • Your registered agent’s name
  • Your registered agent’s publicly available address (this must be an Oregon street address)
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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 3: Provide Your Nonprofit’s Mailing Address

In this section, provide a mailing address to which Oregon’s Corporation Division should mail notices to your corporation. 

Step 4: Indicate Your Corporation Type

Next, check the appropriate box — “public benefit,” “mutual benefit,” or “religious” — to indicate the type of nonprofit corporation you’re forming. For more information about these categories, read the state’s descriptions of each on the top of page two in the formation document.

Step 5: Confirm Any Members

Confirm whether or not your corporation will have members by checking the appropriate box in this section. 

Step 6: Disclose the Distribution of Assets Upon Dissolution

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit corporation must distribute its assets upon dissolution to 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

If you plan to file for 501(c)(3) status, write “see attached” in this section and then attach the “Public Benefit 501(c)(3) Information” language from page three of this form to your Articles of Incorporation. 

If you don’t plan to file for 501(c)(3) status, you may complete this section using this format: “Upon the dissolution of the organization, assets shall be distributed to _____________.” You should then insert the name of another public benefit corporation in the blank.

Step 7: Provide Any Additional Provisions

Check the first box in this section if your nonprofit corporation chooses to indemnify its directors, officers, employees, and agents for liability and related expenses under ORS 58.185 or 60.387-60.414.

In order for your nonprofit to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional provisions with your Articles of Incorporation. Because the Oregon formation document doesn’t include sections related to your nonprofit’s purpose or its initial board of directors, use an attachment to provide details on both topics and check the “see attached” box. 

Here’s what you need to know to successfully complete your attachment: 

Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose 

Your nonprofit’s purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics for it 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

Name Your Initial Board of Directors 

Name your initial board of directors and provide a mailing address for each. To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit must have at least three directors. 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 Oregon article. 

Step 8: List Your Incorporator Information

An incorporator is any person who participates in the completion and submission of the Articles of Incorporation. You must list the names and addresses of each incorporator in this section. If you need more space, attach an additional sheet of paper.

Step 9: Name Your Initial Elected Officers

This section requires you to provide the names and addresses of two of your organization’s initial elected officers: its president and secretary. 

Step 10: Include Contact Information and Signatures

In this final section, include the signatures of each incorporator as well as the name and phone number of your nonprofit’s preferred contact for this filing. 

Step 11: File Formation Documents

You can file your Oregon Articles of Incorporation in two ways: online or by mail.

File the Oregon Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the Oregon Business Registry Portal

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail

Download Form

Fee: $50

Mailing Address:
Secretary of State, Corporation Division 
255 Capitol St. N.E., Suite 151 
Salem, OR 97310-1327

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start a nonprofit organization in Oregon?

You can form a nonprofit corporation in Oregon by filing the Articles of Incorporation - Nonprofit with the Secretary of State by mail or online

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

Filing the Articles of Incorporation for a nonprofit corporation in Oregon costs $50.

Oregon Nonprofit Quick Links

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