How To Create the Articles of Incorporation for Your Nonprofit Organization + Template


When starting a nonprofit organization, the most important documents you will need to create are the Articles of Incorporation. This series of documents lays out the basic structure and governance of your organization. Here we will discuss what should be included in your Articles of Incorporation, as well as provide a template to help get you started.


What are Articles of Incorporation for Nonprofits?

The Articles of Incorporation are a package of documents that are filed with the state in which you are incorporating your nonprofit. The documents include information such as the name and purpose of your organization, as well as the names of the directors and officers. The Articles of Incorporation identify the structure of your organization, including whether or not you have members in this nonprofit. 

These Articles should be written clearly so that they can be understood by anyone who reads them, including the nonprofit bylaws. They should also be reviewed by an attorney to make sure they are in compliance with state and federal laws. Additionally, it’s important to have these Articles written before applying for your 501(c) tax-exempt status with the IRS to ensure a smooth and successful application process.


What Should You Include in Your Articles of Incorporation?

When creating your Articles of Incorporation, there are a few key pieces of information that should be included:

-The name of your organization: Be sure to choose a name that is not already being used by another organization. You will also want to make sure the name is easy to remember and represents the mission of your organization.

-The purpose of your organization: Your statement will outline the specific purpose of your nonprofit. This should be in line with your mission statement.

-The names of the directors: The Articles of Incorporation should include the names and addresses of the individuals who will serve on the board of directors.

-The registered agent: This is the name of the person or company representative (agent) who will receive legal documents on behalf of the organization. They person acting as Agent must  have a physical address in the state in which the organization is incorporating.

-The signatures of the officers: The articles must be signed by the individuals who are forming the corporation.


How To Create Your Articles of Incorporation

Now that we have covered what should be included in your Articles of Incorporation, let’s take a look at how to actually create them.

The first step is to choose the state in which you will incorporate your nonprofit. Once you have chosen a state, you will need to find the forms for Articles of Incorporation on the website of the Secretary of State. Each state has different requirements, so be sure to fill out all the required information.

After you have completed the documents, you will need to file them with the Secretary of State’s office and pay the filing fee. You should receive a confirmation once your articles have been accepted.

Once your Articles of Incorporation have been accepted, you can move on to applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.


Template Articles of Incorporation 

Below is a template of Articles of Incorporation that you can use to get started. Be sure to customize it to fit the needs of your specific organization.

Name of Organization: ____________________________


Date of Formation: ____________________________


Registered Agent: ____________________________


Address: ____________________________


Phone Number: ____________________________


Email: ____________________________




The undersigned hereby incorporates a nonprofit corporation under the name of (insert name of organization), pursuant to the provisions of the General Corporation Law of (insert state).




The purpose for which this corporation is organized is (insert specific purpose of organization).




This corporation shall have no members.




The initial board of directors shall consist of (insert names, addresses, and office titles of each individual who will serve on the board of directors). The number of directors may be increased or decreased from time to time by amendment to these articles or in the manner provided in the bylaws. The names and addresses of the persons who are to serve as the board of directors are as follows:


(Insert name) ____________________________ (address) ____________________________ (phone number) ____________________________ (email) ____________________________


(Insert name) ____________________________ (address) ____________________________ (phone number) ____________________________ (email) ____________________________


(Insert name) ____________________________ (address) ____________________________ (phone number) ____________________________ (email) ____________________________




The names and addresses of the INCORPORATORS are as follows:


(Insert name) ____________________________ (address) ____________________________ (phone number) ____________________________ (email) ____________________________


(Insert name) ____________________________ (address) ____________________________ (phone number) ____________________________ (email) ____________________________


(Insert name): Dates of Appointment of First Board of Directors:


The board of directors shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified.




The initial principal office of the corporation is located at (insert address). The corporation may have such other offices, either within or without the State of (insert state), as the board of directors may determine.




This corporation shall have perpetual existence.




Upon the dissolution of the corporation, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by a Court of Competent Jurisdiction within the county in which the principal office of the corporation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.




These articles may be amended at any time by the affirmative vote of a majority of the directors then in office, provided that any amendment changing the nature of this corporation from a nonprofit corporation to a profit corporation shall require the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds (2/3) of the directors then in office.




These articles shall become effective upon filing with the Secretary of State.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have executed these articles on the day and year first above written.


____________________________ ____________________________

(Signature of Incorporator) (Typed or Printed Name of Incorporator)


____________________________ ____________________________

(Signature of Incorporator) (Typed or Printed Name of Incorporator)


____________________________ ____________________________

(Signature of Incorporator) (Typed or Printed Name of Incorporator)


STATE OF_________________________________________ ): COUNTY OF___________________________________ )


On ______________________________, before me, the undersigned authority, personally appeared _______________________________, _______________________________, and _______________________________, known to be the persons whose names are subscribed to the foregoing instrument and acknowledged that they executed the same for the purposes therein contained.


WITNESS my hand and official seal on the date last above written.



(Signature of Notary Public)


(Typed or Printed Name of Notary Public)


(Seal) My Commission Expires:_____________________




(Typed or Printed Name of Witness)




(Typed or Printed Name of Witness)