Step 1) Make a Name for Your Nonprofit

Choose a Business NameThe name of your Iowa Nonprofit should not be the same or similar to other existing nonprofit names registered at the Iowa Secretary of State. To make sure that your chosen business name is still available, you can use the business entities name database.

You can check out the Iowa Code 504.401 for other restrictions in corporate names.


Step 2) Appoint Officers and Directors for Your Nonprofit

Choose the Initial DirectorsAn Iowa Nonprofit is still required to appoint corporate officers and directors for smooth operations. Your corporate officers are in responsible in executing the resolutions decided by your board of directors.

In Iowa, you are required to appoint one or more directors for your nonprofit.


Step 3) Designate an Iowa Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentAn Iowa Nonprofit must have a registered agent to receive service of process notices and other important documents on behalf of the organization. An agent can be an individual or an entity legally allowed by the state to conduct business.

Two requirements that you must look into when designating an Iowa Registered Agent are the agent’s physical street address and the status of residence in Iowa.


Step 4) Prepare and File Your Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

Register an LLCTo form your Iowa Nonprofit, you need to file your nonprofit articles of organization before the Iowa Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office does not provide the articles of incorporation form, the agency will redirect you to the Iowa Nonprofit Corporation Act which in charge of giving you instructions with regards to the requirements when filing.

Some of the information that you may need to prepare include the following:

Check out the Iowa Code 504.202 to read about the Iowa nonprofit articles of organization as well as other provisions.

Aside from the requirements set by state law on your articles, you have to include specific provisions inorder to comply with the requirements set by the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt statu. The specific languages that you need to include are the:

For further information, check out the IRS requirements for tax exemption on the IRS Publication 557, Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization on the IRS website.


Step 5) Hold a First Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsThe first board of directors meeting is also called the organizational meeting. It is scheduled to discuss the following agenda which are vital in the successful operations of your nonprofit:

Create a minutes of the meeting and have your directors sign it. Place it in your corporate records binder for safekeeping.


Step 6) Set-up a Corporate Records Books

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsThe corporate records book or binder is a requirement for nonprofits in Iowa. It is where you’ll keep all your documents and paperwork from your registration forms, tax forms, minutes of meetings, corporate bylaws and other pertinent documents.

Your corporate records book is available at your local office supply. You can also buy it through Amazon and have it directly shipped to your address.


Step 7) Obtain an EIN for Your Iowa Organization

Get an EIN for Your LLCThe EIN is a 9-series identification number required by the IRS to keep track of your business activities and states taxes. It is also used for many transactions from opening a business bank account, filing for income tax returns, hiring employees and others.

Make sure to get an EIN, the IRS website; it’s free of charge!


Step 8) Open a Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountIowa Nonprofits also need to open a business bank account even if their purpose is not to do business in the state. Having a separate business bank account will help you maintain healthy financial management, prevent mix-ups between personal and nonprofit assets and track your transactions and expenses better.

Recommended Resource: For the different types of business bank accounts, you can check this roundup. Choose the best one for your Iowa Nonprofit!


Step 9) Apply for Federal and State Tax Exemptions

Small Business Taxes

1) File your 1023 federal tax exemption form

To obtain an federal tax exempt status, you need to complete and file the Form 1023 or the Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s quite a comprehensive form that will ask a lot of details such as your nonprofit history, nonprofit finances, organizational structure and a lot more. Send it to this address after completion:

Internal Revenue Service

P.O. Box 12192

Covington, KY 41012-0192

You can also file for the less comprehensive form – Form 1023-EZ or the Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code if you qualify as a small nonprofit. The conditions include an annual gross receipt of less than $50,000 in a year and assets of lower than $250,000.

Prepare a filing fee of $850 for the form 1023 and $400 for IRS Form 1023-EZ.

2) Obtain your Iowa state tax exemptions

After you’ve obtained your federal IRS tax exemption, a tax exempt status from Iowa will automatically be granted to you. You can also be exempted from other taxes such as sales, use and property taxes. To read more about this, you can visit the Iowa Tax Issues for Nonprofit Entities.

3) Comply with additional requirements

Iowa is one of the few states that does not require nonprofits to register with the state before doing any charitable activities or work.


Step 10) Get Your Iowa Business Licenses

Business LicensesAdherence to Iowa business licenses and permits is essential to operate your organization in the state legally. To understand Iowa’s business licensing system, you can visit the Business License Information Center.

Recommended Resource: Business licenses may vary so you need to compile the ones applicable to your nonprofit. For professional help, you can check the business research license package.


To-do After Starting an

Iowa Non-profit

Now that you’re official Iowa Nonprofit, you have to ensure smooth operations. To strengthen your organization, it is highly recommended that you complete these additional requirements first.

1) Write a Solid Business Plan

Write a Business PlanBusiness plans are not made for companies and enterprises, it is also exceptionally helpful for nonprofits. A business plan will outline your nonprofit goals/mission, the strategies that you’ll use to achieve your objectives and an objective method to measure success.

Writing a business was once a difficult task but now it’s easier to make with the aid of these useful resources. Check them out now!

Writing a Business Plan Quick-Links


2) Create a Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteA nonprofit, although not meant to do business still needs to relay its message clearly and properly to the public in order to gain support and funding. Today, one of the most effective ways of delivering your nonprofit message is through building a business website.

There are available tools that can help you create a business website. WordPress is a free website building tool that enables you to build and customize a business website as fast minutes. Bluehost is a paid software that features a one-click WordPress installation tool and customer support feature.

Resource for Getting Started: Check out  this step-by-step guide to help you build a business website for your Iowa Nonprofit.

Note that this article is informational/instructional in nature. It is not a legal document or a replacement of legal advice. For any questions and concerns on the specifics of starting a nonprofit in Iowa, seek advice from a lawyer.

Need Help Forming Your Organization?

Have a reliable incorporation service like IncFile or LegalZoom do the work for you. Just answer a few questions about your organization and they’ll take care of the paperwork.

Visit IncFile Or Visit LegalZoom