How to File the Articles of Incorporation for a Pennsylvania Nonprofit

Person submitting paperwork.

Filing the Articles of Incorporation is a critical step in starting a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit in Pennsylvania. 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 Pennsylvania. 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 Pennsylvania is easy, just follow these easy steps to file the Pennsylvania Articles of Incorporation:

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

What is covered in this guide:

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

Information you will need to file the Pennsylvania Articles of Incorporation

To become a nonprofit corporation in Pennsylvania you must file DSCB:15-5306/7102, the Articles of Incorporation for Nonprofit Corporations.

Before filling out the main part of the form, you must provide a name, street address, or email address for the person who should receive any/all correspondence regarding the filing.

In addition, check any/all appropriate box(es) that accurately describe your filing:

  • If you qualify for a veteran/reservist small business fee exemption
  • If your organization qualifies as a Domestic Nonprofit (your organization must be a domestic nonprofit if you plan to file for 501(c) status)
  • If your organization qualifies as a Nonprofit Cooperative Corporation

Here are the sections that you will need to complete.

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 a Pennsylvania nonprofit.

Section 2: Registered Agent and Registered Office

The registered agent can be any entity registered to do business in Pennsylvania 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/office must have explicitly consented to act as the registered agent for your organization even though you do not need to include proof of consent with your Form DSCB:15-5306/7102.

Enter the information of the registered agent/office you have selected in either Section A or B.

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

Section 3: 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: You can read the IRS guidelines on their website.

Section 4: "The corporation does not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit, incidental or otherwise."

Section 5: Stock

Check the appropriate box indicating if your nonprofit will be operating on a nonstock or stock share basis. If you select stock share, you must indicate the aggregate number of shares authorized.

Note: If you are considering operating on a ‘stock share’ basis, we recommend consulting with an attorney first.

Section 6: Unincorporated Associations

If applicable, check the box to indicate the majority of your association’s members have authorized the incorporation.

Section 7: Membership

Select the appropriate box depending on whether or not your nonprofit corporation plans to have members.

Section 8: For Nonprofit Cooperative Corporations Only

Check one box and describe the common bond among members or shareholders.

Section 9: Incorporators

Incorporators are the people who complete, sign, and submit the certification of formation. These people do not need to be a part of your organization. These people can include you or a lawyer helping you with the process of formation. Enter the names and addresses of the incorporators.

Section 10: Effectiveness of Filing

This section allows you to determine the date on which your nonprofit corporation officially forms.

Option A: your organization will officially form on the day the Secretary of State files your certificate of formation.

Option B: you select the date of formation.

Section 11: Supplemental Provisions and Information

Attach an 8.5x11 sheet of paper and 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.

Signatures

All incorporators must sign and date the form to affirm everything written in the form. You are also affirming that the registered agent/office listed has already consented to be the registered agent for this nonprofit organization.

How to file the Pennsylvania Articles of Incorporation

There are two ways to submit your Articles of Incorporation:

Online:

File the Articles of Incorporation through the Department of State’s online portal.

By Mail:

Submit the Articles of Incorporation to the mailing address below:

Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722

The filing fee is $125.

  • Checks and money orders for mailed forms must be made payable to the "Department of State."
  • Accepted credit cards for online filing include Visa and MasterCard.

Pennsylvania Nonprofit Formation FAQ

How long does it take to process Form DSCB:15-5306/7102?

If you file online it typically takes about 10 business days. If you file by mail expect to get a response in about 15 business days.

If you have filed by mail you can choose to pay an optional expedite fee of $100 for same-day service or $1,000 for 1hr service.


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

You can call for information at (717) 787-1057 or visit them at their website.