How To Start A Nonprofit in Missouri

In this guide, I will walk you through how to start a nonprofit in Missouri but before we jump into the details of it all, I do recommend you talk to Northwest Registered Agent.

They are a professional service company that will help you get the federal tax exemption status you’re looking for with your nonprofit corporation. I highly recommend their services and look forward to hearing how you become one of the nonprofit organizations that uses their service to make it happen. Now let’s jump into what we need to do if you decide to do this without a professional service. This is about your Missouri Nonprofit but if you need information on how to start a Missouri LLC – check out the details there otherwise continue reading on!

Name Your Missouri Nonprofit Organization

The first step you’ll need to take is to determine if your name is available or not. This is not just something you’ll need to imagine and make into a reality. There are state by state rules and you’ll need to follow the Missouri Nonprofit Naming Guidelines to make sure you’re following the right steps. For any Missouri Nonprofit Corporation, you’ll need to check with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office here to see what you can get.

Once you’ve been able to determine if you can get the name, you’ll want to see if you can use this business advice delivered straight to you to go get the digital version of your name at GoDaddy. GoDaddy is an amazing partner to help you secure your domain and get setup with their website building services too. If you’re going to start any type of business entity (nonprofit or not) – GoDaddy is the way to go so head over there today.

Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is someone who is responsible for receiving any official legal or tax documents on behalf of your nonprofit organization. They will also be the one to file annual reports and other paperwork with the state. You can learn more about what a registered agent is and does in this article I wrote but ultimately, you’ll need to choose one in order to proceed.

I always recommend going to Northwest Registered Agent who can help you because they will be the business entity responsible for acting as your registered agent. Their registered agent service is one of the best (if not the best) national provider that offers this type of service.

There is also an option to go outside the walls and find a law firm in Missouri who can help you be the Missouri registered agent you’ll need but again – it’s more important to do it right than to find the cheapest / localized option. Go with Northwest Registered Agent.

If you’re in need of more information on Missouri Registered Agent options, check out what our partner has put together.

Create your Nonprofit Board & Officers

As you think about building your Nonprofit board and the governing body that you’ll be building – it’s important to think about the members on your team who will be receiving important legal documents and making decisions for your entire organization. It can be difficult to do this but as an individual or business entity that is going to be looking for tax exempt status – it will be important you have the right people on your team.

Typically on a Nonprofit board, you’ll have a few key roles which include:

– President

– Vice President

– Treasurer

– Secretary

These are the most common but as you’re building out your nonprofit board, you can have as many or as few members on it as you want. It’s important to think about how big of a board you want and what type of people will help you. You’ll also want to consider having someone that’s responsible for fundraising since your team will need funds to run the nonprofit. The board members are a key piece of your success so don’t move forward with anybody that fits the mold – really think about who the Missouri Attorney General would talk to about your nonprofit and if you’re in the Attorney General’s Office – would you be proud of who you’re with?

Develop Bylaws & Conflict of Interest Policies

You’re going to be having some conflict. If you’re dealing with other people, it’s going to happen. There will be issues that come up and hopefully it’s not around your annual report, state income tax, bank account balance or if you thought you had a sales tax exemption but really don’t.

You’ll want to establish initial governing documents that will help your team make decisions that are right for the organization vs. always thinking about what the state and federal agencies thing. It should be about the people.

Typically in Nonprofit Bylaws, you’ll find:

  • The name of the organization
  • Where the organization is located
  • The purpose of the organization
  • Who can be a member of the organization
  • How often board meetings will take place and what’s required to have a meeting
  • What type of documents need to be kept by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office and what you should keep on file.

As I said earlier, you’ll also most likely be dealing with conflicts because you’re going to have people involved and that’s ok. You just need to prepare for it and have a Conflict of Interest Policy created. If you imagine being on a Nonprofit School Board and you have all your kids in that school – you may make decisions that lean toward that child or children favorably vs. thinking about what’s best for the entire school. I’m not saying that anyone would do this but you don’t want other community members to be thinking this and question everything that comes out of the board meetings. Build the Conflict of Interest Policy and hold people to it.

File Missouri Articles of Incorporation

After you’ve written your purpose, thought about the people you want on your team and have developed governing documents – it’s time to file the Missouri Articles of Incorporation with the state. This is the document that officially starts your nonprofit. You can do this online or mail it in but I recommend doing it online so you can track it.

I also think it’s important to use IncFile or Northwest Registered Agent to help make sure this gets done correctly. If you’ve filed your tax exempt status correctly, you’re going to want to make sure you keep that Federal Tax Exemption status and the last thing you want to happen is for this to go sideways and your Nonprofit is no longer valid with the state.

You can do this by going to the Missouri Business Page to get some help with the right forms.

Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Now it’s time to go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS website) to get your EIN figured out. This is your social security number for your business so go do it and do it to stay in line with the internal revenue code. IT’s important as you build your nonprofit to stay compliant.

You can go Apply for an EIN here so make sure you do this otherwise it’s going to be extremely difficult for your nonprofit organization to get a bank account that can be used for your Missouri Corporation Income Tax and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t get your Federal Tax Identification Number sooner.

Apply for 501(c)

After all that’s completed, you’ll need to legally establish your nonprofit as a Missouri based organization that is asking for 501c3 status. You can do this by filling out the IRS Form 1023. This is not a difficult process if you have all the information from earlier but it can get confusing.

The best way to make sure everything is filled out correctly on this form is by using an online service like Northwest Registered Agent or Incfile.

If you’re organization’s purpose is to be a Missouri nonprofit you’re going to want to focus on this and submit all the appropriate information needed to the Missouri Department that will take care of this for you so go do it.

Apply for Missouri State Tax Exemption(s)

Yes you can do this and you should. You’ll need to fill out the Missouri Business Income Tax Exemption form which can be found here. This is going to help you save some money on your taxes and it’s not that difficult to do.

Make sure you have all the information from earlier in this post so you can fill this out correctly and submit it for processing.

Register for Charitable Solicitation (Fundraising)

If you want to do any type of fundraising in Missouri, you need to register your nonprofit with the state. You can find more information about how to do this here.

Basically, you’re going to want to go through the process of getting a Charitable Organization License and make sure you understand what’s needed for that.

Obtain Other Business Licenses & Permits

Depending on your type of nonprofit, you may need to obtain other business licenses & permits. For example, if you’re going to have a physical location – you’ll need to make sure you have the proper zoning in place and most likely a business license.


How much does it cost to start a non-profit in Missouri?

The cost to start a nonprofit in Missouri varies depending on the type of organization you want to start and the services you use. Generally, it will cost between $50 and $200 to file the necessary paperwork with the state, plus any fees for applying for 501(c)3 status and registering for charitable solicitation.

Can you start a nonprofit alone?

Yes, you can start a nonprofit alone. However, it is often helpful to have a team of people to help with the process, as well as to provide support and expertise once the organization is up and running.

How do you start a non-profit with no money?

One way to start a nonprofit with no money is to use pro bono or volunteer services to get the organization off the ground. You can also look for grants and other funding opportunities to help cover the costs of starting and operating the nonprofit. Finally, you can fundraise to generate start-up funds.