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Arkansas Nonprofit Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Nonprofit in Arkansas

To incorporate a nonprofit in Arkansas, you’ll file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation with the Arkansas Secretary of State. This filing officially creates your corporation, but it’s really just one step toward pursuing your nonprofit’s goals. The main steps to starting an Arkansas nonprofit corporation are as follows

  1. File nonprofit Articles of Incorporation
  2. Get a federal EIN tax ID from the IRS
  3. Register for state tax accounts
  4. Hold your organizational meeting and adopt bylaws
  5. Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
  6. Register as a charity
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Arkansas 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 Arkansas Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

To form an Arkansas nonprofit, file nonprofit Articles of Incorporation using the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new nonprofit
Step 2 Decide if your nonprofit will have members
Step 3 Determine how your nonprofit will distribute its assets upon dissolution
Step 4 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 5 File online and pay $45 with a credit card or mail your documents to the Arkansas Secretary of State, 1401 W. Capitol, Suite250, Little Rock, AR 72201 with a check or money order for $50

How Long Does it Take to Start an Arkansas Nonprofit?


Fast: 2 business days

File online at the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website, pay a $45 filing fee, and get your filing processed in 2 days.


Fast and Safe: 2 business days

Hire Northwest to form your Alaska nonprofit, and we’ll file your Articles online for you and get it right the first time. You’ll just answer a few questions about your nonprofit and leave the rest to our expert Corporate Guides.


Archaic: 1-2 weeks

Send your Articles of Incorporation by mail to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, pay a $50 filing fee, and receive a response in around 1-2 weeks.

How Much Does It Cost To Start An Arkansas Nonprofit?

When you incorporate your Arkansas nonprofit, you’ll pay a $50 filing fee if you mail your Articles to the Arkansas Secretary of State and $45 if you file online.

When you hire Northwest to form your Arkansas nonprofit, the total cost, which includes one year of registered agent service, is $270 for 2-day filing.

How Much Will My Arkansas Nonprofit Cost Each Year?

Arkansas doesn’t charge nonprofit’s annual state fees, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have yearly obligations to the state. You’ll still need to file a nonprofit annual report with the Arkansas Secretary of State, and nonprofit charities must renew their registration each year with the Attorney General’s office.

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What Is The Arkansas Nonprofit Annual Report?

Arkansas requires nonprofit corporations to file annual reports to keep their contact, membership, and registered agent information current in the state’s records. You can mail the report to the Arkansas Secretary of State, or you can file online at the Secretary of State’s website. There is no filing fee, and the report is due by August 1 each year.

And if you don’t want to bother keeping up with your annual report’s requirements and deadline, Northwest offers a convenient Arkansas nonprofit annual report service for $100 plus state fees.

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Will My Arkansas Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?

Unfortunately, forming a nonprofit at the state level doesn’t guarantee federal tax-exempt status. To qualify for federal tax-exempt status, you have to file an Application for Recognition of Exemption with the IRS, and you have to prove that your organization exists to serve IRS-approved exempt purposes. Although the IRS recognizes more than two dozen types of tax-exempt organizations, most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) status for public charities and private foundations. If your nonprofit intends to become a 501(c)(3) exempt organization, your Articles should include the special language required by the IRS specifically limiting your nonprofit’s activities to one or more exempt purposes.

If your nonprofit qualifies for federal tax-exempt status, you’ll likely be able to avoid Arkansas’ corporate income tax, and you could be eligible for an exemption from the Arkansas state sales tax. Visit our Arkansas state tax exemption guide to learn more.

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Is An Arkansas Nonprofit Registered Agent Required?

Yes, you’re required to appoint an Arkansas registered agent for your nonprofit. You can take on this responsibility yourself, but it’s a difficult role for any one person to fill. You’ll need to list a registered office (the office of your registered agent) on your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation, which becomes part of the public record, and your registered agent has to be at that location during normal business hours to accept services of process (lawsuits and other legal notices). It isn’t easy to manage and develop an organization if you can’t travel or even leave your desk for extended periods during the day.

It’s simply wiser to hire an expert registered agent service like Northwest. Not only are we always there during normal business hours, but you can use our registered office to help protect your privacy. Our address, not yours, will appear on your articles of incorporation, so you’ll receive far less junk mail and avoid putting up with solicitors knocking on your door throughout the day. And when we receive services of process on behalf of your nonprofit, we’ll scan them and send them to you on the same day. Think of Northwest as a shield that allows you the flexibility and freedom to develop your nonprofit’s vision on your own terms.

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

Usually. If your Arkansas nonprofit will solicit and collect charitable donations, you most likely need to submit a Charitable Organization Application for Registration to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. There are exceptions for religious nonprofits and nonprofits that don’t collect more than $1,000 each year, but most nonprofits have to register as an Arkansas charity and renew each year. There are no registration or renewal fees.

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Do I Need A Tax ID Number (EIN) For An Arkansas Nonprofit?

Getting a federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN) is an essential part of starting your nonprofit. You’ll need an EIN to open a bank account in your nonprofit’s name, to get credit with vendors, and to apply for federal and state tax exemptions (among many other things).

After your nonprofit’s registration goes through with the State of Arkansas, you can apply for an EIN at the IRS website or by phone. Or you can save yourself the bother by adding our convenient EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit.

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Does An Arkansas Nonprofit Need A Business License?

Arkansas doesn’t require nonprofits to obtain a statewide business license, but some counties and cities have their own licensing requirements.

Can I Register An Out Of State Nonprofit In Arkansas?

Yes, you can register an out of state nonprofit (also called a “foreign nonprofit”) by filing the appropriate paperwork with the Arkansas Secretary of State. Visit our Arkansas foreign nonprofit guide for more details.

Does An Arkansas Nonprofit Need Bylaws?

Yes, Arkansas requires your nonprofit to adopt bylaws during your first official meeting. This is the meeting at which your nonprofit appoints or elects directors, establishes officers’ responsibilities, establishes constraints on membership, and otherwise decides how to pursue your nonprofit’s collective vision. There are no hard and fast rules for when this organizational needs to take place, but make sure your nonprofit adopts its bylaws before seeking 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS.

Bylaws aren’t easy to write from scratch, but Northwest is here to help. If you hire Northwest, we’ll provide free forms to help guide your nonprofit, including an adaptable template for writing bylaws.

Arkansas Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Name of the Corporation

Your Arkansas nonprofit corporation is not required by state law to have a corporate ending like “Corp.” or “Inc.” However, many states do require a nonprofit corporation to have a specific ending, so you may want to include a similar ending to maintain uniformity throughout your organization. Search the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website to find if your nonprofit’s name is available. You can reserve your nonprofit’s name, if you wish, by filing an Application for Reservation of Corporate Name.

Type of Nonprofit

Arkansas requires that your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation identify your nonprofit as a public benefit, mutual benefit, or religious corporation. See Northwest’s general Start a Nonprofit page to see which definition applies to you.


Indicate if your nonprofit will or will not have members.

Power of the Corporation

This section asks for a general description of your nonprofit’s activities, and it emphasizes that your nonprofit will not distribute its income and assets to its members and not engage in any activities, such as propaganda, inconsistent with state and federal laws for tax-exempt organizations. Both the print and online Articles of Incorporation available from the Arkansas Secretary of State allow you to use the IRS’s suggested language in place of your own.


As with the previous section, this section allows you to directly adopt the IRS suggested language for describing your nonprofit’s purpose. Arkansas is basically providing your nonprofit with a foundation to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Distribution of Assets on Dissolution

As with the previous two sections, you can use the IRS suggested language, provided on the form, to describe what will happen to your nonprofit’s assets upon its dissolution (that is, if and when it shuts down for good). If you intend to apply for 501(c)(3) status, definitely use the language provided by the IRS. If not, or if your plans for how to distribute your nonprofit’s assets differs from the form’s general description, check “Other as described” and describe those plans in the space provided.

Registered Agent and Address

You’ll need to list the name and address of your nonprofit’s Arkansas registered agent. This could be an individual resident of Arkansas, such as yourself, or a business that provides a registered agent service (like Northwest).

Incorporator Information

Arkansas requires that at least one incorporator signs and dates your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation, but the incorporator doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or member of your nonprofit. If you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, we’ll be your incorporator.

Optional Information and Provisions

If you want to include additional provisions or the names and addresses of your nonprofit’s directors, include an attachment with your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®