The first step to forming a Connecticut non-profit is to secure a unique name that follows the state’s naming statues including:
If needed, file an Application for Reservation of Name which can be mailed to the Secretary of State to reserve your business name for 120 days.
Filing Fee: $60
A Connecticut Registered Agent performs “service of process”, (33-150) or in other words they’re responsible for receiving and helping process important documents like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, etc. on behalf of your non-profit. The agent can be an individual resident or a domestic/foreign business entity registered with the state. A physical street address is also required, of a registered office.
You can hire an outside professional service and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a qualified agent free when incorporating a non-profit through services like IncFile or Incorporate.com. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.
In Connecticut your non-profit must have at least one Incorporator, and yes you can have more than one, who is responsible for executing your certificate (Step 5) with the state. You’ll also need to select a minimum of three initial Directors (human only) to officially oversee the forming of the non-profit until you’ve properly elected directors in your first board meeting.
It’s up to you and your initial directors whether they should be named in the Articles/bylaws. It may be helpful to bookmark this Connecticut page on Boards & Governance which addresses board of director recruitment on pg. 5. Again, if this part and the corporate formalities are confusing don’t hesitate to reach out to a non-profit professional or incorporation service!
Without your own bylaws, your non-profit would be subject to the default rules and statutes concerning these subjects which may not be suitable at all. Plus you can’t incorporate without them. Common non-profit bylaws include:
First, consult section 33-1026 which outlines the specifics regarding the non-profit Certificate of Incorporation. There’s a bit of formalities and information to digest so make absolutely sure not to try and have your incorporators execute the certificate until you, your board, and overall your non-profit is ready.
Also, it might be a good idea to bookmark this FAQs Page from the Department of Consumer Protection because it has good information for charitable organizations and paid solicitors.
Filing Fee: $50 + optional $50 expedite fee
What we’re referring to here is a physical, often very nice looking book, folder or binder where copies of critical pieces of paperwork are kept and managed. And yes, that’s along with the many modern ways of tracking and compiling information on your non-profit. They’re somewhat of a corporate formality, but extremely common and highly-advised.
You can pick one up at pretty much any office supply store or online through Amazon of course, but we’re huge fans of savvy-sleek Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books, binders, blank certificates and more which you can brand for as little as $99.
Together with the officers and directors you have selected hold your first meeting. Here’s what the law says in section 33-1095:
Make sure that you prepare the minutes of the meeting; your attending board of directors will need to sign the document. If needed, check out a great Corporate Minutes Template which you can customize.
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a 9-digit number required by all business and non-profit entities under law in order to effectively track their financial activity. Think of it as a social security number for your non-profit, but it will also make it possible to legally hire paid employees if needed and open up a bank account in Step 10.
Almost every transaction your non-profit engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.
Now it’s time to ensure compliance on local, state, and federal levels and apply for exemptions in the process. Do keep in mind your non-profit will be subject to conventional gambling laws.
Also, because of the many financial services and mutually beneficial relationships you can build, also feel free to bookmark the Hartford Small Business Administration office and Dept. of Rev’s Business Services page.
As a non-profit you’re looking for financial utility and solutions that are geared for your needs – low fees, waved expenses, great online banking options, good interest rates (if your non-profit maintains higher account balances) and other valuable services.
Take some time to shop around at local, state and national banks/credit unions until you find the best option. Also, if you haven’t already, consider appointing a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who’s knowledgeable and can help. If needed, check out this brief breakdown of Non-Profit Accounts to gain a better understanding and be sure to keep your non-profit account 100% separate from all others.
Unbelievable work, at this point your non-profit is established and ready to impact the world, change lives, and make a difference. That said, how’s your planning? What kind of plan do you have and how much structure is there?
Listen, if all you have is a basic mission statement and a hazy vision of the next couple years PLEASE consider taking some time to really chisel out a solid game plan with core fundamentals like outreach methods, funding needs, impact goals/milestones, etc. It’s worth it. Eventually your non-profit will need this anyway when it comes time to approach potential partners and volunteer organizations. If you need help putting this together, we highly recommend a tool called LivePlan, which will walk you through the entire process.
Do you have a website for your non-profit yet? It’s important you do, whether that be a single explanatory landing page, a comprehensive agency-style site, or a blog with ecommerce capabilities. At the end of the day it’s about this one thing: “What people see or discover when they search for your non-profit’s name online.”
Note that this article on how to form a non-profit organization in Connecticut isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a non-profit organization in Connecticut or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.