UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center

Guide: Start a Business  Part Nine

Start a Nonprofit

So you want to start a nonprofit in Missouri. Although you might draw some parallels between starting a for-profit business and a not-for-profit organization, nonprofits have special considerations involving management (board of directors), tax exemption, finances, proposal writing, forms to file and more.

Following these steps can help you form your nonprofit organization in Missouri. If you’d prefer chatting with a human who can create your free (yep, totally, 100 percent free) custom step-by-step guide that outlines your next steps, give us a call at 866-870-6500 or tell us what you need help with here.

Who will control your organization?

One of the basic differences between nonprofits and for-profits is who controls it.

Successfully creating a nonprofit is a lot harder than founding a successful for-profit because the organizers have to bring many people together. A nonprofit will generally need a governing body of volunteer directors who will have broad oversight of the paid staff and the power to hire and fire them.

Confirm the need for your organization

Similar to what you’d do with market research for a for-profit business, do some market research to see if your community or region needs this type of organization and/or if the market is saturated with similar organizations. Does someone already provide this service and is there need for another similar organization or an organization of this type? Do you fill a particular niche or meet a need in a way that others in your service area don’t?

Tax Exemption

Most organizations will at least want to be exempt from paying income tax on the money they take in. Charitable organizations will also want donations to be deductible on their donors’ tax returns. The general forms for articles of incorporation from the offices of Secretary of State don’t necessarily say what you need for the tax exemption you want. The secretaries also don’t provide by-laws or conflicts of interest policies.

The IRS has guidelines that outline the different types of tax exemptions.

> > > Not sure what you need to do? Feeling like you could use some help? We got you. Just give us a call at 866-870-6500 or reach out to us online about what you need, and we’ll outline your next steps and connect you with help in Missouri (for free) so you can do this thing.

File the certificate or articles of incorporation

Although you can legally establish an unincorporated organization, it’s hard to obtain tax-exempt status. And it’s tough to receive grants when your organization is unincorporated.

Usually, you file the articles of incorporation with the secretary of state or the attorney general’s office in your state. In Missouri, you’ll file with the Secretary of State, but other states might be different.

- Register your business in Missouri - Cost is $25 to file articles of incorporation

Establish your organization’s board of directors and the organization’s incorporators

Missouri requires any nonprofit organization to have at least three directors. A president, secretary and treasurer have to be on the board for incorporation.

The Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership has resource materials and classes to help organizations develop their boards.

Develop vision and mission statements

The vision statement outlines the organization’s reason for existence, while the mission statement identifies how the organization will accomplish the vision.

Establish bylaws

Missouri require certain statements in an organization’s bylaws. See the above links for guidance.

Get an employer identification number (EIN)

Organizations must apply for an EIN through the IRS to apply for tax-exempt status, to make required form 990 filings and to pay payroll taxes for employees. Learn more about EIN's from But just because you have an EIN, doesn’t mean you organization is tax-exempt.

Open a bank account

You should also make sure your financial procedures, checks, and balances are in order and defined for your organization. If financial management isn’t your forte, find an expert who can help.

Apply for federal tax exemption

Section 26 USC 501 lists organizations that might qualify for tax-exempt status. Those organizations that meet the requirements in section 501(c)(3) may qualify for both exemption of income and deductibility of donations. See form 1023 and instructions at, as well as IRS Publication 557.

- View IRS requirements for exemption

- Fill out the IRS Exemption Application

Legal counsel is recommended for completing Form 1023. Be sure to look for someone with nonprofit expertise, and know that you can find low-cost or pro bono services through Legal Aid or a local law firm.

MOSourceLink can help connect you with local experts and low-cost or free help that can guide you with starting your nonprofit. Call us at 866-870-6500 or tell us what you need here, and we’ll outline your next steps.

Follow state and local nonprofit regulations

Sales Tax Exemption

Make sure you know your state rules and regulations on sales tax. In Missouri, the Department of Revenue grants sales/use tax exemption.

Charitable Solicitation Registration

Missouri requires you to register before you solicit donations. You can register with the State’s Attorney General office.

Property Tax Exemption

If the organization owns property, check with the local tax assessor’s office for the right forms.

Bulk Mail Permit

Do this at the main branch of your local post office; it will help reduce some costs with any direct mail campaigns.

Get funding

The Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership has a series of fundraising courses to help teach common techniques on how to raise financial support for nonprofit organizations.

File your taxes

Most organizations with gross receipts over $25,000 must file IRS Form 990. Organizations with gross receipts less than $25,000 have to file an e-postcard, Form 990-N, again with a few exceptions.

File an annual report

Learn how to: File an Annual Report in Missouri

Get help creating a nonprofit in Missouri

These resources can help you create your nonprofit and guide you on what you’ll need to do to stay compliant:

- The Foundation Center's Establishing a Nonprofit Organization Tutorial

- IRS Tax Information for Charities & Other Nonprofits

- Missouri Secretary of State’s Office

- Free Nonprofit Micro eMBA (non-degree training modules to learn the basics of starting a nonprofit)

You may also need the following Resource Partners as you create your nonprofit. Head over to The Resource Navigator to further filter your search by business industry, zip code/city/distance and/or specific need—or just give us a call at 866-870-6500 and we’ll make your Personal Action Plan of next-step resources for free.


AAIM Employers' Association

AAIM Employers’ Association provides comprehensive HR solutions for companies of any size. We offer employers the services, tools, and resources they need to hire, retain, and develop employees efficiently and effectively.

Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas City

BBB of Greater Kansas City's mission to promote trust in the marketplace has made us a business leader since 1916. BBB sets standards for marketplace trust, celebrates business role models, calls out substandard marketplace behavior, and creates a community of trustworthy businesses and charities.

Center for Entrepreneurship - Craig School of Business at MWSU

The Center for Entrepreneurship exists to train, mentor and support entrepreneurs. Our staff will provide one-on-one business coaching and connect clients to needed programs and resources.

Center for Experiential Learning

Washington University’s Olin Business School, the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) connects you with talented WashU students to consult on your business challenges and opportunities. These consulting projects are student-lead and faculty-advised.

Central Exchange

Central Exchange is a preeminent membership organization in the Kansas City area which provides the venue and voice for women seeking to reach their full personal and professional potential.

Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship at the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, Saint Louis University

The goal of Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Center for Entrepreneurship is to help entrepreneurs combine their business passion with the planning skills taught in a world-class institution, to produce high-performing organizations. Our mission is: to deliver and develop world-class entrepreneurship education for all.

City of Albany

The City of Albany is committed to providing support and opportunity to entrepreneurs and business start-ups as well as established business expansion and retention services.

Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic (ELC) - University of Missouri

The Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic (ELC) provides legal assistance to take startups from concept to capitalization. Upper level law students work hands-on with businesses under the supervision of an experienced, licensed attorney.


GotDevKC is Kansas City's business directory bringing the best of The Midwest's IoT, App and Web, Prototyping, and Manufacturing talent all under one easy-to-use roof. We provide intelligent lead-matching that promotes strong connections and community.

Green Hills Regional Planning Commission

The Green Hills Regional Planning Commission (GHRPC) is a regional organization providing economic development services in an 11-county area in North Central Missouri. GHRPC operates three revolving loan pools to assist start-ups and existing businesses.

Job One

Job One enhances the lives of adults with disabilities by providing a lifetime of meaningful employment choices. We do this through entrepreneurship and partnership with the business community.

Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts

Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (KCVLAA) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that provides legal and accounting assistance to artists and arts organizations.

Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission

Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission serves as the liaison between local government and State and Federal Agencies. Our organization serves the 7 counties of: Bates, Benton, Cedar, Henry, Hickory, St. Clair and Vernon, as well as the communities within those counties.

Kirkwood Public Library

The Kirkwood Public Library inspires a lifelong commitment to learning and creativity, for a more informed and connected community.

Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments

Serving Camden, Laclede, Miller and Morgan counties, working together to help provide the necessary resources to help build strong communities within our region.

Marceline IDA

The Marceline IDA works with start-ups and existing industries wanting to expand. We also have a working plan to assist existing businesses as requested.

Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (TAAC)

Mid-America TAAC assists domestic manufacturers negatively impacted by import competition by providing technical assistance and cost sharing improvement projects to make a business more globally competitive.

Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership - University of Missouri-Kansas City

The Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership (MCNL) is to enhances the performance and effectiveness in the nonprofit sector through high quality community-oriented education, applied research, problem solving and service.

Missouri Arts Council

The Missouri Arts Council supports the arts that strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of our state.

Network for Strong Communities (NSC)

NSC's team of professionals uses solid business practices and deep industry knowledge to solve our clients' most complex organizational challenges and help them increase their capacity for creating positive community change.

Nonprofit Connect

Nonprofit Connect links the nonprofit community to education, resources and networking so organizations can more effectively achieve their missions.

Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments

A regional organization offering a variety of programming, products and services to member governments in Atchison, Holt, Gentry, Nodaway and Worth counties in northwest Missouri.

PCs for People Kansas City

PCs For People Kansas City provides technology assistance to nonprofit organizations with very inexpensive, high quality refurbished computers, Wi-Fi and network installations, tech support and on-going maintenance plus IT consulting at below market rates.

Saint Louis University Innovation Mentoring Team

Saint Louis University Innovation Mentoring Team provides free help to founders or early-stage startups. We are an affiliate of the MIT Venture Mentoring Service and use their system of team mentoring. We support startups in all business sectors, including nonprofits.

SCORE - Kansas City

The Kansas City SCORE Chapter is comprised of more than 70 volunteers who provide free mentoring and workshops to entrepreneurs. Volunteers are professionals with time-tested knowledge and experience in almost every industry.

SCORE - St. Louis Bi-State Region

SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

South Central Ozark Council of Governments

SCOCOG is designated Economic Development District serving southern Missouri. Our eight member staff has collectively over 80 years of experience working with local communities seeking funding sources to meet their ever challenging needs as well as small business in the start-up or expansion phases with low interest loans.

Square One Small Business Services by Mid-Continent Public Library

Square One Small Business Services at Mid-Continent Public Library supports local entrepreneurs through access to information, programs, and opportunities. Whether owning a business is a brand new dream or your life’s work, MCPL is committed to helping you succeed.

St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce

The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities & other services related to growing businesses in St. Joseph, Mo.

St. Louis Agency on Training & Employment (SLATE)

St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) Missouri Career Center is here to help you with small business resources OR employment training needs, whether you are a business or job seeker.

St. Louis Community Foundation

The St. Louis Community Foundation inspires purposeful philanthropy that connects community and donors to build and preserve a more equitable and vibrant region, now and forever.

St. Louis County Library

The St. Louis County Library provides free resources to help start and grow your business or nonprofit. Book a Librarian for one-on-one time to find information for business plans, choose a store site, create marketing lists, find demographics, and more.

St. Louis Public Library

St. Louis Public Library's 16 locations, including Central Library's subject specialists, help entrepreneurs find information related to day-to-day operations and long-term needs using a wide variety of resources.

St. Louis University School of Law Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

The ECD Clinic provides transactional representation to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community groups, and small businesses.

St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts

St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants provides free legal and accounting assistance and offers a wide variety of affordable educational programs.

Support Kansas City, Inc

Support Kansas City provides business and administrative services to nonprofit organizations, empowering nonprofits to focus on their missions.

UMSL Accelerate - University of Missouri-St. Louis

UMSL Accelerate is the innovation and entrepreneurial resource for students, faculty and the community. Our vision is to serve as a catalyst for developing our students, faculty and community to inspire entrepreneurship and innovation. Our mission is to foster a community of thought leaders by providing a vibrant ecosystem to Educate (curriculum), Innovate (co-curriculum), and Collaborate (community programming).

University of Missouri Kansas City - AUPD - Urban Planning + Design

Urban Planning + Design is an accredited undergraduate professional program in urban planning. We are a studio-based program with an emphasis on physical planning and community engagement.

Urban Empowerment Development Corporation

uEDC Mission: uEDC is a community development corporation dedicated to empowering people to impact their community.

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis Women's Business Center

Business development program with a focus on training and counseling for entrepreneurs to start and expand their business.


Free assistance to honorably discharged veterans, transitioning military and military families with preparations to self-employment or business expansion.
Remember if you need help, give us a call at 866-870-6500 or send us a message. We can guide you through the next steps you need to take to start your business.

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