Form a Missouri Non-Profit organization yourself with our simple step-by-step guide. It’s free and easy!
IncFile and LegalZoom are both reliable services that take care of all legal paperwork on your behalf.IncFile ($99 + State Fee) LegalZoom ($99 + State Fee)
To secure and register your non-profit name in it should be unique, not too similar to another registered entity name, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording as defined by Missouri law. To check for naming conflicts, first conduct a Business Entity Search through the state and be sure to check with section 355.146 in the state code (subject to change).
If needed, you can file an Application for Reservation of Name through postal mail with the Missouri Secretary of State to protect the name for up to 180 days or until filing Articles of Incorporation in Step 5.
Filing Fee: $25
A Missouri Registered Agent is required of your non-profit for compliance purposes. This registered, or statutory agent, can be an individual registered citizen or a corporation authorized to conduct business in the state. They’ll also need to provide a street address, for your registered office and hold regular M-F business hours.
That said, you can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a certified agent free when you incorporate your non-profit with a service like IncFile or BizFilings. They handle this and more depending on your startup package.
What are incorporators? That’s easy, this is the individual (you can have more than one) who signs and then files your non-profit Articles of Incorporation with the state in step 5. They don’t have to be an officer or director, but you do need President, Treasurer, and Secretary officers. Speaking of directors, you’ll need to select at least 3 initial directors to oversee the non-profit during formation until new more official directors can be voted on/in during your initial meeting in Step 7.
Bookmark the UMKC page because it has more of the finer details in terms of board responsibilities along with great non-profit resources. To be frank, working with an attorney or incorporation provider really comes in handy during this foundational step as well because there are definitely corporate formalities to learn.
This is somewhat complex subject, but here are two primary notes in state law concerning non-profit bylaws:
“The code or codes of rules, other than the articles, adopted pursuant to this chapter for the regulation or management of the affairs of the corporation, irrespective of the name or names by which such rules are designated. Bylaws shall not include legally enforceable covenants, declarations, indentures or restrictions imposed upon members by validly recorded indentures, declarations, covenants, restrictions or other recorded instruments, as they apply to real property.“
And this short section,
“The incorporators or board of directors of a corporation shall adopt bylaws for the corporation. The bylaws may contain any provision for regulating and managing the affairs of the corporation that is not inconsistent with law or the articles of incorporation.‘
If it’ll be helpful, check out this savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself as well.
Once you and your team decide it’s time to form the initial corporation, file your non-profit Articles of Incorporation or submit them via mail to the Sec. of State. Information you’ll need includes:
Filing Fee: $25
What we’re referring to here is a physical, often very nice looking book, folder or binder where copies of critical pieces of paperwork are kept and managed. And yes, that’s along with the many modern ways of tracking and compiling information on your non-profit. They’re somewhat of a corporate formality, but extremely common and highly-advised.
You can pick one up at pretty much any office supply store or online through Amazon of course, but we’re huge fans of savvy-sleek Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books, binders, blank certificates and more which you can brand for as little as $99.
For your first meeting assemble incorporators/directors and get ready to establish the foundation of your non-profit. Be sure to record “minutes” of the meeting and all attendees and have it signed by directors for your records book. Topics you’ll cover will vary but should include:
If you found the bylaws template useful, check out a similar Corporate Minutes Template you can also customize and use to provide initial structure until you and your board get the hang of things should it be necessary.
An EIN is very straightforward. It’s a 9-digit identifying number like a social security number but for business entities including non-profits. You’ll use it to setup a bank account and hire paid employees if needed, then the appropriate agencies will use it to track your financial activity.
The quickest and easiest way to get one is by submitting a request directly through the IRS Website.
Now’s the point to ensure your non-profit is 100% compliant in terms of not only licenses/permits, but state and federal taxes. You should be able to apply for tax exempt status now that the corporation is established.
Two other great sources of information, networking, and financial services are the St. Louis district office of the Small Business Administration and the Sec. of State’s Business Services page. Non-profits and the small business community work together in countless ways, right?
First of all, make absolutely sure that no other accounts of any kind or any other income/expense steams of data get mixed in! This is a costly and completely avoidable mistake for too many non-profits stumble into. Secondly, do some homework and research different options between local, state, and federal banks along with credit unions.
Don’t be too quick to decide here! The amount of costs/savings per year from one bank to the next, relative to their other services, is a critical consideration. If needed, check out this brief breakdown of Non-Profit Accounts to gain a better understanding of what’s involved.
Because of the nature of non-profits, truth is there’s some sort of planning in place. The question is how effective will it end up being a year from now? A year from now, how far will your current approach to non-profit planning (and execution) have gotten you and your board? How defined will your mission statement and outreach goals? How tight of a grasp on your fundamentals?
It’s never too early, or too late, to begin establishing a fund-ready plan you would proudly show to potential partners, donator networks, VCs, or CrowdFunding platforms. The process itself will open so many doors, and dramatically increase your awareness of your potential.
QUICK LINKS TO NON-PROFIT PLANNING
Do you already have a functional website bringing in donations, increasing engagement, expanding initiative awareness and driving impact where you want it to be? If so, great! If not, then now’s a great time to get this ball rolling. And don’t worry if you aren’t a gifted designer, or you don’t have one working in-house, because there are so many non-profit-friendly options!
Be sure to check out ecommerce platforms like Shopify, or modern website-builder platforms like Wix, WordPress and SquareSpace. If you’re interested and roaring to go, check out this breakdown of 20 Non-Profit Websites from 2016 to see what works, what looks good, and start generating ideas.
Note that this article on how to start a non-profit organization in Missouri isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to start a non-profit organization in Missouri or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.