You incorporated your church plant, but now something has changed and you need to amend Articles of Incorporation.
What’s the Problem?
The most common reasons I’ve experienced that cause a church plant to amend Articles of Incorporation are:
Church Plant Name Change
Maybe you were smart and waited to name your church plant until after you’d lived on site and done your missionary homework. You used a placeholder name, like ‘Sheboygan Church Plant’, and now you’ve finally settled on a permanent, contextual name.
Maybe you made the common mistake of naming the church based on your preference instead of what the community can relate to. You’re a couple of months in and already sick of having to explain what the unusual Greek or Latin name means, or maybe you realized that you picked a white collar name in a blue collar town (or vice versa).
Forgot to Include Something
You tried to figure out the Articles of Incorporation yourself and didn’t include important clauses that make the IRS happy:
- a proper purpose statement
- a dissolution clause
- tax exemption provisions:
- limitations on political activities (can’t tell people who to vote for, and “no substantial part” of the church activities can be influencing legislation)
- prohibition against private inurement (individuals can’t profit from the church)
How to Amend Articles of Incorporation
Whatever you’re changing, you’ll need to file an amendment with your Secretary of State or State Corporations Commission (the same office where you originally filed your Articles). Here’s what I do in these situations:
- Have the corporate Board of Directors approve & document the change
- Visit your state’s website and download any form or template they use
- Call the state, explain that you’re helping your church as a non-expert, and beg for help:
- Do we have to include an “Inc.” in the name (for name changes)?
- What are current processing times for walk in vs. mail in?
- What forms of payment do you accept for the filing fee?
- Is there anything else we might be forgetting?
- File the amendment and pay their filing fee (usually nominal)
But Wait, There’s More!
If you changed your church plant name, there are some other folks that need to know about the new name:
- The IRS (since you applied for an EIN under the old name, right?)
- State Department of Revenue (if you have any employer withholding accounts)
- State Attorney General (only in some states; might want to call & ask)
- the DMV (if the church owns a trailer or motor vehicle)
- Your bank
- Your online giving provider (credit card processor)
- Your payroll processor
- Your church management software (ChMS)
- Your insurance company
- Church copyright agencies
- The Post Office (if you’ve already applied for postal permits)