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Arizona Nonprofit Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Nonprofit in Arizona

To incorporate a nonprofit in Arizona, you’ll file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation and a Certificate of Disclosure with the Arizona Corporation Commission. These filings officially create your corporation, but they are really just one step toward pursuing your nonprofit’s goals. The main steps to starting an Arizona nonprofit are as follows:

  1. File nonprofit Articles of Incorporation and a Certificate of Disclosure with the Arizona Corporation Commission
  2. Send your completed Notice of Publication form to a newspaper in your county for publication
  3. Get a federal EIN tax ID from the IRS
  4. Hold your organizational meeting and adopt bylaws
  5. Apply for Arizona state tax licenses
  6. Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
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Arizona nonprofit Articles of Incorporation free download. When you’re done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Documents & Forms

How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

To form an Arizona nonprofit, file the nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new nonprofit
Step 2 Describe your nonprofit’s purpose
Step 3 Give the names and addresses of your nonprofit’s initial directors (you will need at least one)
Step 4 Decide if you want to hire a statutory / registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 5 Decide what address you want to list publicly
Step 6 Decide if your nonprofit will have members
Step 7 Complete and attach a Certificate of Disclosure
Step 8 File online and pay $40 with a credit card or mail to the Arizona Corporate Commission (Corporate Filings Section, 1300 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona 85007) with a check or money order for $40

How Long Does it Take to Start an Arizona Nonprofit?

13+

Faster

Pay a $35 expedite fee (in addition to the $40 filing fee), and Arizona will process your nonprofit’s Articles in 13-18 days.

34+

Slower

If you don’t pay the $35 expedite fee, you can expect Arizona to take between 34 and 39 days to process your documents.

How Much Will It Cost To Incorporate My Arizona Nonprofit?

You will pay a $40 state filing fee to register your nonprofit with the Arizona Secretary of State, and an additional $35 if you want to expedite the filing process (there is no filing fee for the Certificate of Disclosure described below). If you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, the total cost, which includes one year of registered agent service, is $265 for a 44-day filing option and $300 for 14-day filing.

How Much Does An Arizona Nonprofit Cost Each Year?

Arizona nonprofits pay $10 to submit an annual report each year.

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What Is the Arizona Nonprofit Annual Report?

Your nonprofit’s annual report keeps your contact, membership, and statutory agent information current with the state (among other details). The filing fee is $10, and the deadline is the yearly anniversary of your nonprofit’s incorporation. You can file by mail or online at the Arizona Corporation Commission’s website.

If you want to avoid the hassle altogether, sign up for Northwest’s Arizona Annual Report Service for nonprofit corporations, pay $110, and let us file your annual report for you—correctly and on time.

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Will My Arizona Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?

The IRS doesn’t automatically grant tax-exempt status to nonprofit organizations, but the option is available if you’re willing to endure the lengthy, expensive application process. Currently, the IRS recognizes more than two dozen types of tax-exempt nonprofits, but most nonprofits get formed with charitable goals in mind and seek 501(c)(3) status for public charities and private foundations. If your nonprofit intends to become a 501(c)(3) organization, make sure your Articles of Incorporation include the 501(c)(3) language required by the IRS limiting your nonprofit’s activities to the exclusive pursuit of one or more recognized exempt purposes.

If you apply to the IRS and obtain federal tax-exempt status for your nonprofit, Arizona will usually exempt your nonprofit from the Arizona corporate income tax, and you might be eligible for other Arizona state tax exemptions as well. However, you’ll need to apply for each state tax exemption individually at the Arizona Department of Revenue.

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Is An Arizona Nonprofit Statutory Agent Required?

Yes, the state requires every nonprofit to appoint an Arizona statutory agent. A statutory agent (called a registered agent in most states) is an individual or business entity authorized to accept services of process (lawsuits and legal notices) on behalf of your nonprofit.

You can be your own statutory agent or appoint a willing associate, but keep in mind that a statutory agent has to be available at your nonprofit’s registered office during normal business hours. If you take on the job yourself, you can’t get bogged down in lengthy meetings, run errands, travel to meet with donors, or do anything, really, that impacts your availability to accept legal notices. A registered agent’s physical and mailing address, moreover, goes into the public record for your nonprofit, so you can expect a lot of junk mail and unwanted solicitors showing up at your door if you use your own address.

Hire Northwest as your Arizona statutory agent, and you’ll avoid these problems altogether. Our address, not yours, will appear on your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation and other state forms, and you’ll received scanned copies of any legal notices we receive on the day we receive them.

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Do Arizona Nonprofits Have Publishing Requirements?

Arizona requires new nonprofits to publish a notification of formation in a local newspaper for three weeks in a row, but you can only do so after the Arizona Corporation Commission approves your articles of incorporation. Your approval letter from the Commission will include directions for where and how your notification should be published.

The publication fees will vary by newspaper, and two counties—Maricopa and Pima County—don’t charge a fee. If you hire Northwest as your Arizona registered agent service, you will publish your notification of formation in Pima County, the county where our registered office is located, so it won’t cost you a thing.

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Do I Need A Tax ID Number (EIN) For An Arizona nonprofit?

A federal employer identification number (a FEIN or EIN) is pretty much basic to doing business in the nonprofit sector, even if it isn’t strictly and always “required.” You’ll need an EIN to open a bank account in your nonprofit’s name, to collect donations, and to apply for federal and state tax exemptions—which means getting an EIN is pretty much a must.

After your nonprofit’s registration goes through with the Arizona Corporate Commission, you can apply for an EIN at the IRS website or by phone. You can also save time by adding our EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.

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Does An Arizona Corporation Need A Business License?

Arizona doesn’t require nonprofits to obtain a statewide business license, but many counties, cities, and towns have their own licensing requirements for particular kinds of business activities. To learn more, visit the Arizona Department of Revenue’s website.

 

Do I Have To Register My Nonprofit As A Charity In Arizona?

As of September 2013, most charities soliciting donations in the the state of Arizona no longer have to register with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. Currently, Arizona requires only Veteran’s Charitable Organizations to register.

Can I Register An Out Of State Nonprofit In Arizona?

Yes, you can form an out of state nonprofit (also called a “foreign nonprofit”) by registering with the Arizona Corporation Commission. See our Arizona foreign nonprofit page for details.

 

Does An Arizona Nonprofit Need Bylaws?

Arizona requires your nonprofit to adopt bylaws at your organizational meeting. This is your first official meeting where you truly complete the process of forming your nonprofit, and it can happen before or shortly after you file your Articles of Incorporation with the state. Just make sure to hold your organizational meeting before applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Why are bylaws important? Your bylaws spell out how your nonprofit works—who the directors are, for instance, how they get appointed, how long they serve, what responsibilities each officer has, who gets to vote and who doesn’t, and so on—which means your bylaws are an essential to shaping the day-to-day and long-term behavior of your nonprofit.

If you hire Northwest to form your Arizona nonprofit, you won’t have to write your bylaws from scratch. We provide a professional, adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as numerous other free forms to help you get started.

Arizona Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

Corporate Name

Your Arizona nonprofit’s name should clearly suggest your nonprofit’s purpose and the nature of its activities. The name should also be distinguishable from the names of other businesses and organizations operating in Arizona.

Character of Affairs

Arizona requires a short description of the initial purpose of your nonprofit in the Articles of Incorporation, and it doesn’t have to be that detailed. However, if your nonprofit is a charity and wants to obtain 501(c)(3) status tax-exempt status, you’ll need to provide a lengthier attachment that includes the specific language required by the IRS for tax-exempt organizations.

Members

Arizona does not require nonprofits to have members, but the nonprofit Articles of Incorporation require you to decide that question in advance of forming your nonprofit. And, yes, corporations, not just natural individuals, are allowed to be members.

Arizona Known Place of Business Address

Arizona requires your nonprofit Articles of Incorporation to list a street address for its principal office. In section 4.1, the form asks if the known place of business address will be the street address of your statutory agent. If the answer is “Yes,” check the box and move on. If the answer is “No,” enter the appropriate street address in section 4.2. If you hire Northwest as your statutory agent, our name and the street address of our Arizona office will appear in place of yours.

Directors

You have to list the name of every director of your nonprofit. You also have to include their business address, which can be the nonprofit’s “known place of business” (which, once again, can be our address when you hire Northwest).

Statutory Agent

Your statutory agent (called a “registered agent” in most states) can be an individual or an authorized statutory agent service like Northwest, and you’ll include the name and address of the agent specified. Attach a signed Statutory Agent Acceptance form to your Articles of Incorporation.

Certificate of Disclosure

The Certificate of Disclosure is a distinct form submitted alongside your Arizona Articles of Incorporation. The form asks for background information about your nonprofit’s directors, officers, trustees, and/or incorporators—relevant information, that is, about their criminal histories and bankruptcies. The state wants to make sure it can trust the people involved in your nonprofit’s activities. There is no additional filing fee, and you can locate the form on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s website.

Incorporator(s)

Your incorporator is the person who completes and signs your articles of incorporation. Incorporators don’t have to be directors, officers, members, or anyone else in your nonprofit, but they must provide their names, addresses, and signatures. If you hire Northwest to form your Arizona nonprofit, we will be your nonprofit’s incorporator.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®