To start a nonprofit in Missouri, you’ll need to determine key information about your organization. For example, your nonprofit’s name, founders, directors, and Registered Agent. You’ll also file paperwork with state and federal agencies. Important steps along the way include filing your Articles of Incorporation, applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), establishing bylaws, and applying for tax-exempt status.
Starting a nonprofit in Missouri (or in any state!) requires dedication, hard work, and some paperwork. While it may take time and commitment, securing your nonprofit status can be a rewarding process.
Missouri is home to more than 30,000 nonprofits – and your cause could be one of them!
In this post, you’ll learn step-by-step how to start a nonprofit in Missouri. Read on to equip yourself with all the knowledge you’ll need to get to work changing the world!
Bonus resource –
When naming your organization, aim for something unique, memorable, and descriptive. The Missouri Secretary of State notes your name must include “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or “limited.” Or, use an abbreviation of one of those words: Inc., Co., Corp., Ltd.
Your name must also be distinguishable from other entities already registered in the state, to prevent confusion and infringement. Search for existing organizations in the Secretary of State’s database.
When naming your nonprofit, consider:
If you’re struggling to find ideas, this charity name generator can help spark ideas. Be mindful any online name generator can result in some comical suggestions, too.
Your nonprofit’s incorporators and directors are responsible for the management and oversight of your organization.
The incorporator is the person who signs your Articles of Incorporation. Your board of directors is the governing body for your organization. Your board will create your bylaws (see step 7) and vote on key decisions on an ongoing basis. Consider recruiting a well-rounded, diverse board that reflects the community you serve.
Read more about the role of an incorporator in Missouri.
Learn more about good board practices with this IRS publication: Governance & Related Topics – 501(c)(3) Organizations.
A registered agent is an individual or organization that receives notifications of due process for your nonprofit. Your registered agent must provide their Missouri address when you register with the Secretary of State (more on that process later).
This address must be a physical location (not a PO Box) where the registered agent may be served paperwork, if necessary. For more details, read the Secretary of State’s webpage on registered agents.
Your Articles of Incorporation is the first legal document you’ll file to create your Missouri nonprofit. You’ll register this paperwork with the Secretary of State.
You’ll be required to provide the following:
Filing fee: $25
View the Missouri nonprofit Articles of Incorporation form for more information.
Missouri requires a nonprofit entity to file an initial report with the Secretary of State. By filing online, you can save money and time. The online system saves your information, making renewal easier.
Failing to file your report can result in the dissolution of your organization. It’s due at the end of the month that your nonprofit was incorporated. The standard practice, however, has been to extend the date to within 90 days after the end of the month of registration.
Filing fee: $20 if filing online. $45 if filing by paper. Late reports are subject to an additional fee of $15 for each 30-day period.
Read more about filing your nonprofit Annual Report in Missouri.
An EIN is a 9-digit number assigned by the IRS. Your EIN allows you to complete critical administrative tasks like opening a bank account, applying for 501(c)(3) status, and submitting your annual Form 990.
To apply for an EIN, complete IRS Form SS-4 online for free. Then, you’ll receive an EIN online. You can also submit your EIN paperwork by fax or mail. However, the IRS cautions that these methods are slower.
Read the IRS’s instructions for how to fill out your Form SS-4 to get your EIN.
A nonprofit’s bylaws govern how the organization will operate. The state of Missouri and the IRS provide guidelines about how nonprofits must run. However, some things are up to your board of directors.
Some helpful guidelines for creating your bylaws:
Your Missouri state ID number, or charter number, is issued by the Secretary of State once you register your nonprofit. Then, you can get a bank account for your organization. Your bank account allows you to collect donations, build savings, pay contractors, and more.
To open a bank account, you’ll generally need to provide:
One little-known fact is that not all nonprofits are tax-exempt. To create a 501(c)(3) exempt nonprofit, you’ll need to apply for federal and state tax exemptions. First, let’s review the 501(c) federal tax exemption.
Filing fee: $275 (for Form 1023)
When you receive your 501(c) status and have your determination letter, your nonprofit will be exempt from corporate tax in Missouri. Then, you can apply for exemption from Missouri sales/use tax.
To apply for state tax exemption, fill out the Missouri Department of Revenue Form 1746. You’ll be required to provide information including:
Learn more about filing for your Missouri sales/use tax exemption from the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Before fundraising in Missouri (and in many other states), most nonprofits must register with the state’s Attorney General. There are exceptions for religious organizations and schools. Professional fundraisers and solicitors are also required to register.
Apply for a charitable solicitation license through the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Registering allows your Missouri 501c3 to legally solicit donations for your cause.
Filing fee: $15 if your organization raised $10,000+ during the reporting year
Learn more about registering your charitable organization on the Missouri Attorney General’s webpage dedicated to this topic. On that page, you’ll also find contact information for the Missouri charitable registration specialist who can help answer any questions you may have.
Local, state, and federal regulations for licensure vary. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a helpful guide outlining federal and state licenses and permits.
Additionally, some nonprofit activities require additional licenses. For example, selling beer and wine at a fundraising event requires a license from the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Games of chance, such as a raffle or bingo, require a license or permit from the Missouri Gaming Commission.
Starting your Missouri nonprofit requires determination, patience, and some hard work. That said, creating your own nonprofit can be a rewarding and empowering way to change the world. When you encounter challenges, remember the importance of the cause you’re working toward and the ways in which your nonprofit will make a real difference.
For more tips and useful resources, check out our nonprofit blog.
In this section, we’ll answer some commonly asked questions on how to start a nonprofit in Missouri.
Simply put – it varies! State and federal agencies often cannot provide a specific timeline, since the volume of incoming applications can fluctuate. Plan for the process to take a few months.
As a general rule, the best way to ensure a quicker turnaround is to submit paperwork electronically when possible.
The fees to start a nonprofit organization in Missouri include:
You may choose to take on additional costs when creating your nonprofit. For example, you could pay a lawyer to guide you through the paperwork or serve as your registered agent. You might also apply for additional licenses that require fees.
Your form 1023 should be submitted within 27 months after the end of the month you created your nonprofit. If filing after 27 months, the date of your exempt status will be when you submit your form, rather than the founding date.
That said, it’s best to start the process as soon as possible. You can apply after you have your EIN, bylaws, and state ID number.
At least three directors are required to start a nonprofit in Missouri. The state’s guidance on board governance advises making your board large enough to have a variety of skill sets, and small enough to be manageable.