Multi-State Compliance Matrix


What You’ll Learn

If you’re a nonprofit in Missouri, or you’re a nonprofit considering fundraising or other activities in Missouri, you must understand the requirements that Missouri has established for nonprofits operating in the state.  

How can you become familiar with these laws? Where should you start?  

Start here. This state profile includes the basic requirements nonprofits must consider. Reading the profile and implementing appropriate compliance measures will help you prepare your organization for success in Missouri.  

Getting to Know the State Nonprofit Corporation Law


*Important primarily for nonprofits incorporated in Missouri

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father; and had, in consequence of her sister’s marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.

- Emma, Jane Austen

When reading a novel, we get to know a fictional character by the author’s description. The author tells us about the character’s appearance, purpose, actions, mannerisms, and values.  

Nonprofit corporations are something like fictional characters.  

We learn how a nonprofit will look and act and make decisions not by reading a novel, but by reading the state law (called the nonprofit corporation act) and the rules the nonprofit makes for itself (called the bylaws and articles of incorporation). The law and the organization’s own rules tell us the organization’s name, purpose, way of acting, and method of making decisions.  

To get to know your own nonprofit, be sure to review the sections below.  

State Nonprofit Corporation Law

Corporate Governance

Conflict Transactions: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.416; Need to review the basic best practices for conflicted transactions? See Bylaws Module 14: Conflicts of Interest.  

Director Standards of Conduct: Not included in statute; Need a refresher on the role of directors? See Bylaws Module 6: Directors.

Members: Eligibility and Statutory Powers: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.181; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.186; Not sure what a “member” is? Need to review the basics? See Bylaws Module 5: Members.

Indemnification: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.471; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.476; Not sure what “indemnification” is? Need to review the basics? See Bylaws Module 8: Indemnification.

For Religious Nonprofits

Nonprofit Religious Corporation Act: Missouri’s nonprofit corporation law expressly: (a) acknowledges an option for nonprofit corporations to incorporate for religious purposes and (b) includes specific provisions to protect the right of nonprofits incorporated for religious purposes to self-government in internal affairs. The law does not include an option to incorporate expressly as a nonprofit religious corporation. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 352; Confused about what it means to be a religious nonprofit corporation? See our whitepaper “Why a Religious Corporation?

Reliance on Religious Guidance in Governance: Missouri law permits a director to rely on guidance from religious figures within his or her faith tradition in the fulfillment of the director’s fiduciary duties. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.426(3)(4)

Understanding Religious Liberty in this State

Case Study

*Important for all nonprofits doing business in Missouri, whether incorporated in Missouri or elsewhere  

The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission. Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.

- Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru, 140 S. Ct. 2049 (2020).  

Sometimes, the state or local government (like the city or county) makes laws that could conflict with your organization’s free exercise of religion or its sincerely-held religious beliefs.

For example, a law might require employers not to make faith-based distinctions between job candidates. If your organization’s mission is to pass on the teachings of your faith, you will need to make faith-based distinctions in evaluating candidates because their faith commitments will impact their abilities to partner in your mission and witness the faith to your program participants.

So what do you need to do? Be aware of the laws listed below. If any of the laws impact your organization—for example, if you are an employer or a facility open to the public—learn more about how you can protect yourself by reviewing Napa Legal’s religious liberty resources. Talk to an attorney if you have specific concerns.

Religious Liberty Protections

State Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Missouri has enacted a RFRA that protects the religious free exercise of all individuals and entities by requiring government burdens on religious exercise to satisfy strict scrutiny. These protections originate in a statute rather than the state constitution. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.302; Not sure what a “religious freedom restoration act” is? Click here to learn the fundamentals.

State Constitutional Protections for Religious Exercise: The Missouri Constitution follows in lockstep with the federal constitution’s protections, meeting but not exceeding the required minimum protections of the First Amendment. Mo. Const., Article I, Sec. 5; Mo. Const., Article I, Sec. 6

State Blaine Amendment: The Missouri Constitution contains a Blaine Amendment that broadly restricts faith-based organizations’ freedom to participate in public benefit programs on the same terms as similarly situated secular institutions. Current U.S. Supreme Court precedent has rendered this language ineffective, but it could become effective in the future if Court precedent changes. Mo. Const., Article I, Sec. 7; Mo. Const., Article IX, Sec. 8; Not sure what a Blaine Amendment is? Review the basics here.

Other Relevant State Laws and Regulations

Religious Freedom and Public Accommodation Laws: Missouri’s nondiscrimination laws generally restrict religious freedom for religious organizations that offer public programming and facilities and provide no meaningful religious accommodations or exemptions. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.065; Not sure what a public accommodation law is or what it means for your organization’s religious liberty? Learn the basics in this article which discusses the issue in the context of the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.  

Missouri does not currently have a statewide sexual orientation and gender identity law. Be sure you understand whether any local regulations apply to your organization.  

Protections for Religious Exercise in State of Emergency: Missouri law has no explicit constitutional or statutory protections for religious exercise during a time of emergency.

Key Employment Laws and Regulations

In addition to the federal anti-discrimination employment law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Missouri prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age or disability. An employer is any person who has more than twenty employees for twenty or more weeks each year. “Employer” does not include corporations operated by religious organizations. Local governments may also have employment-related regulations. An attorney can help you understand what requirements apply to your organization.

Religious Freedom for Faith-Based Employers: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010. Need to review the basics on religious freedom and employment matters? Walk through a self-audit of best practices here.

Conducting Activities or Programs in this State

Understanding the Business Registration Requirement

*Important primarily for nonprofits doing business in Missouri but incorporated elsewhere

If you are fundraising or conducting activities in this state, you must consider whether you need to register as a foreign nonprofit corporation. The state law requires entities that are “transacting business” to register. An attorney can help you decide whether you need to register based on the type and volume of activities you have in this state.  

Business Registration Statute

Fundraising and Charitable Registration in This State

How to Know (And What to D0) If You're Fundraising In This State

*Important for both Missouri and Foreign Nonprofits

Not sure what “charitable registration” is? Need to review the basics? Read this article for a refresher.

This state generally requires organizations to register prior to soliciting for donations. However, the registration requirement has a broad exemption for organizations that are tax-exempt under 26 USC 501(c)(3) and a narrow religious exemption. (See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.456(2).) There is no form necessary to receive either of these exemptions, but, as a best practice, many organizations choose to submit a letter notifying the attorney general of the organization's exemption and, sometimes, requesting a confirmation of exemption.  Questions regarding professional fundraising registration can be directed to registrations@ago.mo.gov.

This state has a broad definition of what constitutes solicitation and does not specify what minimum activity level triggers registration requirements. The statute does helpfully clarify that receiving unsolicited contributions from Missouri residents or entities does not constitute solicitation, unless the contributions are received as part of a fundraising campaign. (See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.453(6)(b).)

If You're Fundraising In Multiple States, Make Sure You Understand the URS

In this state, organizations which are required to register have the option of registering through the Unified Registration Statement, which is a standardized charitable registration accepted in many states.

Evaluate Whether You'll Need a Registered Agent

If you are fundraising in this state, you must consider completing a foreign not for profit registration and designating a registered agent in state. More information about this is included below. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 355.761.

Follow the Rules About Communicating with the Public

This state does not require organizations to post specific language when conducting charitable solicitations unless the organization is working with a professional fundraiser.

Annual Report Requirement

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.462

Audit Requirements: Missouri does not require the submission of reviewed or audited financials as a condition of maintaining authorization to fundraise in the state.

Get Acquainted with State and Local Taxes and Exemptions

State and Local Taxes

*Important for all nonprofits doing business in Missouri, whether incorporated in Missouri or elsewhere

In this state, organizations which have received federal income tax exemption under IRC § 501(c)(3) are automatically exempt from state income tax. Some organizations may choose to send a copy of their IRS determination letter to the state department of revenue to indicate the organization’s position that it qualifies for the exemption. Note that, although an organization may be exempt, if it has unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”) that is subject to federal taxation, that UBTI may be subject to state income tax. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 143.441(2)(1))

In Missouri, almost all business entities, even out-of-state business entities, must pay an annual franchise tax. However, entities operated exclusively for religious purposes (such as a faith-based nonprofit) are exempt from this tax. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 147.01(2). Some organizations may choose to send a copy of their IRS determination letter to the Missouri Department of Revenue to indicate the organization’s position that it qualifies for the exemption.

It is also important to consider whether your organization might be eligible for sales and use tax or property tax exemption. In this state, federal § 501(c)(3) status does not automatically provide an exemption from sales, use and property taxes. More information about the sales and use tax exemptions and applications is available on the Missouri Department of Revenue website and in Missouri code of state regulations. An accountant or attorney can provide answers to specific questions regarding your organization’s eligibility for exemption.

Corporate Income Tax Statute

Missouri imposes a corporate income tax but automatically exempts organizations with federal 501(c)(3) exempt status. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 143.071

Corporate Franchise Tax Statute

What You Need to Know About Sales Tax

Sales and Use Tax: Missouri imposes a sales and use tax on religious organizations’ sales and purchases but generally provides a broad and comprehensive, entity-based tax exemption for 501(c)(3) religious organizations’ sales upon application. Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 144.008 — 144.1015; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 144.600 — 144.749; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 144.757 — 144.761; Sales/Use Tax Exemption Application

State Tax Treatment of Unrelated Business Income: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 143.441  

State Sales and Use Tax and Required Registrations: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 144.600 et. seq.

Property Tax: Missouri imposes property tax but, upon application, generally provides an exemption to religious organizations for property used for religious and/or charitable purposes. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 137.100

State-Specific Special Requirements


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Legal Disclaimer

This resource contains general educational information related to legal concepts, but this information does not constitute legal advice. Anyone seeking legal advice is strongly encouraged to consult with a licensed attorney regarding any of the matters discussed herein. Although licensed attorneys work with Napa Legal, Napa Legal is not a law firm and does not undertake legal representation on behalf of any clients. Further, no licensed attorney working with or on behalf of Napa Legal agrees to undertake legal representation on behalf of any client unless the terms of such representation are set forth in a separate, written representation agreement.

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**Please note that the following state profiles are forthcoming and will be published soon:Hawaii and Washington