How to File the Articles of Incorporation for an Iowa Nonprofit

Filing the Articles of Incorporation is a critical step in starting a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit in Iowa. Whether you have been running a charity for a while or are just starting out, your nonprofit organization will need to fill out the Articles of Incorporation and file them with the State of Iowa. This will allow you to file for 501(c)(3) status and reap the benefits of having an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

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Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Iowa is easy, just follow these easy steps to file the Iowa Articles of Incorporation:

If you are starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Iowa, you have come to the right place. After reading the comprehensive guide for Iowa nonprofit formation, follow this guide to file the Iowa Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State.

What is covered in this guide:

  1. Information you will need to file the Iowa Articles of Incorporation
  2. How to file the Iowa Articles of Incorporation
  3. Iowa Nonprofit Formation FAQ

Information you will need to file the Iowa Articles of Incorporation

To become a nonprofit corporation in Iowa you must file the Articles of Incorporation with the state, following the guidelines set forth in the Revised Iowa Nonprofit Corporation Act §504.202.

The state of Iowa does not supply a form for nonprofits to fill out; they will have to draft their own Articles of Incorporation and include the sections below.
However, nonprofits who file online through the Fast Track Filing service will have access to an online form they can fill out.

Here are the sections that you must include:

Section 1: Entity Name

Enter the name you have selected.

For help with selecting a name for your nonprofit read our comprehensive guide on how to name an Iowa nonprofit.

Section 2: Registered Agent and Registered Office

The registered agent can be any entity registered to do business in Iowa or any person who is a resident of the state. Your organization cannot act as its own registered agent.

Any person you designate as the registered agent must have already explicitly consented to act as the registered agent for your organization even though you do not need to include proof of consent with your Articles of Incorporation.

Enter the information of the registered agent you have selected.

For more information read our guide: What is a registered agent?  And The Iowa Registered Agent Guide.

Section 3: Incorporators

The incorporator is the person who completes, signs, and submits the Articles of Incorporation. This person does not need to be a part of your organization. This can be you or a lawyer helping you with the process of formation. Enter the name and address of your incorporator(s).

Section 4: Membership

Include a provision that details whether or not your nonprofit corporation plans to have members.

Section 5: Dissolution

Use this section of the articles of formation to formally state what the assets of the organization will be used for, and what will happen to the assets if the organization is dissolved.

To be eligible for 501(c)(3) status, you must convince the IRS that the organization’s assets will always only be used for the purposes approved under 501(c)(3) rules. To this end, you must include provisions ensuring that in the event your organization is dissolved, the assets of the organization will be used towards tax-exempt purposes.

Section 5 of this sample document provides an example of these provisions required for 501(c)(3) eligibility.

Section 6: Purpose*

Describe the purpose of your nonprofit organization.

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, the organization’s purpose must explicitly be limited to one or more of the following:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

NOTE: *Although the state of Iowa lists this item as optional, it is a required provision when applying for 501(c)(3) status.


Any incorporator named in the Articles of Incorporation must sign and date the articles.

How to file the Iowa Articles of Incorporation

There are three ways to submit your Articles of Incorporation:


Upload the Articles of Incorporation to the Secretary of State’s Fast Track Filing website.

By Mail:

Submit the original Articles of Incorporation plus a copy to the address below:

Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319

By Fax:

Submit the original Articles of Incorporation plus a copy to (515) 242-5953.

The filing fee is $20.

  • Checks for mailed forms must be made payable to the "Secretary of State"
  • SOS Charge Accounts may be used for filing fees.
  • Accepted credit cards include Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express
  • Mailed forms may also pay by credit card by filling out and submitting a Credit Card Authorization Form.

Iowa Nonprofit Formation FAQ

How long does it take to process the Articles of Incorporation?

If you file online it typically takes about 1-2 business days. If you file by mail expect to get a response in 1-2 weeks.

How do I contact the Secretary of State for more information?

You can call for information at (515) 281-5204 or visit them at their website.