How to File Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation in Michigan

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Michigan is easy — and the first task is filing your Articles of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the eight steps required to file the Articles of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Michigan.

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Getting Started

To start a domestic nonprofit corporation in Michigan, you must file the Articles of Incorporation for Use by Domestic Nonprofit Corporations. This guide covers each step you must take to fill out this document successfully and get on the right track to forming a Michigan nonprofit.

Step 1: Provide a Contact Name and Return Address
Step 2: List Your Nonprofit’s Name
Step 3: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose
Step 4: Indicate If Your Nonprofit Will Issue Stock
Step 5: Choose a Resident Agent
Step 6: List Your Incorporator Information
Step 7: Provide Any Additional Attachments
Step 8: File Formation Documents

(Check out our other guides for a look at how to start a nonprofit organization or how to file articles of incorporation in other states.)

Step 1: Provide a Contact Name and Return Address

The first step to filling out the Michigan Articles of Incorporation is to provide a contact name and return address for the filing.

Step 2: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

Next, list your nonprofit corporation’s name. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Michigan:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Michigan, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name can’t imply the organization was formed for any intent or purpose other than what’s disclosed in the Articles of Incorporation.

Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Michigan, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Michigan.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below, or use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table.

Michigan Business Entity Search
To operate in Michigan, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Michigan Business Entity Search tool.

Domain Name Search
We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don’t plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Federal Trademark Search
You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to form your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search
A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 3: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In article two, describe the purpose for which you want to form your nonprofit corporation. That purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics for your nonprofit to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status:

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

Step 4: Indicate if Your Nonprofit Will Issue Stock

In article three, indicate whether or not your nonprofit will issue stock. With either option you must then provide some additional information:

  • If your nonprofit will issue stock, disclose the total number of shares. If your nonprofit plans to divide those shares into multiple classes, then describe the designation of each class, the number of shares in each class, and the relative rights, preferences, and limitations of the shares of each class.
  • If your nonprofit won’t issue stock (i.e., nonstock), disclose the value of your organization’s assets, how it’ll be financed, and if it’s formed on a membership or directorship basis.

Step 5: Choose a Resident Agent

resident agent, also known as a registered agent in most states, is required to file the Articles of Incorporation in Michigan. Either an individual or a business with a physical address in Michigan may fill this role. A resident agent’s responsibilities include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity.

Your corporation can’t serve as its own resident agent.

Requirements for this section include:

  • The name of your resident agent
  • The physical address of their registered office (this can’t include a P.O. Box)
  • The mailing address of their registered office if different than above (this may include a P.O. Box)

Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide.

Step 6: List Your Incorporator Information

An incorporator is any person who participates in the completion and submission of the Articles of Incorporation. One or more incorporators must provide their signature and either a residential or a business address in article five.

Note: Educational organizations must have at least three incorporators.

Step 7: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional statements in your Articles of Incorporation. Because the Michigan formation document doesn’t include sections related to asset distribution upon dissolution or your initial board of directors, use attachments to provide details on each topic.

Outline the Distribution of Assets Upon Dissolution

Describe how your nonprofit corporation’s assets will be distributed upon its dissolution.

Distribution of assets upon dissolution must be for approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to the sixth section of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) suggested language for corporations and associations.

Name Your Initial Board of Directors

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit must have at least three directors. When listing your nonprofit’s initial board of directors, follow these requirements:

  • Don’t include any prefixes, such as “Mr.” or “Ms.”
  • If applicable, use titles of lineage.
  • If applicable, use designations like “M.D.” or “Ph.D.”
  • Include a mailing address for each director.

For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Michigan article.

Step 8: File Formation Documents

There are three ways to file your Articles of Incorporation in Michigan: online, by mail, or in person.

File the Michigan Articles of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the Michigan Corporations Online Filing System

File Online

– OR –

OPTION 2: File by Mail or in Person

Download Form

Fee: $20

Mailing Address:
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
Corporations Division
P.O. Box 30054
Lansing, MI 48909

Office Address:
Corporations & Securities Bureau
2501 Woodlake Cir.
Okemos, MI 48864

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Michigan?

Filing the Articles of Incorporation for a domestic nonprofit corporation in Michigan costs $20.

How do I incorporate a nonprofit in Michigan?

You can incorporate your Michigan nonprofit by filing Articles of Incorporation for Use by Domestic Nonprofit Corporations by mail or in person. You can also file online with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

How do I get a copy of my Articles of Incorporation in Michigan?

You may request a copy of your Michigan Articles of Incorporation via the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

How do I find nonprofits in Michigan?

Use our handy Michigan 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Michigan. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

Michigan Nonprofit Quick Links

IRS: Information for Charities and Nonprofits
IRS: Charity – Required Provisions for Organizing Documents
IRS: Form 990 Series for Tax-Exempt Organizations
IRS: Applying for Tax-Exempt Status
IRS: 501(c)(3) Compliance Guide
US Small Business Administration: Apply for Licenses and Permits
Michigan Department of Treasury: New Business Registration
Michigan Attorney General Charitable Trust
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Michigan 501(c)(3) Lookup Table

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