Last Updated 06 September 2017 | By:

How To Form a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit In Connecticut

How to Use this Guide

Use the guide below to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Connecticut. Keep in mind that the process requires forming a nonprofit corporation and getting tax-exempt status with the IRS.

Since the overall process is extremely complex, we highly recommend consulting with an attorney or using a service like Harbor Compliance for personalized top-to-bottom nonprofit formation and obtaining IRS 501(c)(3) status.

Step 1) Secure Your Nonprofit Name

Choose a Business Name

The first step to forming a Connecticut nonprofit is to secure a unique name that follows the state’s naming statues including:

  • Your name should contain: “corporation”, “incorporated” or “company”, or abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.” or “co.”;
  • Be sure to conduct a Business Entity Search to ensure no naming conflicts upon filing in Step 5;
  • May not contain language stating or implying that the corporation is organized for a purpose other than that permitted by section 33-1035 and its certificate of incorporation.

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

Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent

Choose a Registered AgentA 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 nonprofit. 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 nonprofit through services like Harbor Compliance (see details). They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.

Step 3) Select Incorporators & Directors

Choose the Initial Directors

In Connecticut your nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit professional or incorporation service!

Step 4) Draft Nonprofit Bylaws

Register an LLC

Without your own bylaws, your nonprofit 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 nonprofit bylaws include:

  • Detailed info on principle and registered agent offices.
  • Management, procedures, and responsibilities of the board.
  • Details on each office – Pres., Secretary, Treasurer, etc.
  • How to go about Adding/Amending bylaws,
  • How to handle other corporate formalities required in Connecticut.

To get started, check out a savvy Corporate Bylaws Template with an example that you can customize yourself. Also, here’s a link to Sec. 33-1030 which gives you the state’s position.

Step 5) File Certificate Of Incorporation

Business LicensesFirst, consult section 33-1026 which outlines the specifics regarding the nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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

Step 6) Start A Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

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 nonprofit. 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.

Step 7) Conduct Initial Meeting

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of DirectorsTogether with the officers and directors you have selected hold your first meeting. Here’s what the law says in section 33-1095:

  • (a) The board of directors may hold regular or special meetings in or out of this state.
  • (b) Unless the certificate of incorporation or bylaws provide otherwise, the board of directors may permit any or all directors to participate in a regular or special meeting by, or conduct the meeting through the use of, any means of communication by which all directors participating may simultaneously hear each other during the meeting. A director participating in a meeting by this means is deemed to be present in person at the meeting.

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.

Step 8) Get An EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a 9-digit number required by all business and nonprofit entities under law in order to effectively track their financial activity. Think of it as a social security number for your nonprofit, 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 nonprofit engages in will require an EIN. That said, you can get one quickly and free of charge by applying online through the IRS Website.

Step 9) Handle Licensing & Exemptions

Small Business Taxes

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 nonprofit 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.

Step 10) Setup A Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountAs a nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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 Nonprofit Accounts to gain a better understanding and be sure to keep your nonprofit account 100% separate from all others.

Need Help?

How To Form a 501(c)(3) NonprofitIf you’d like help forming a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit In Connecticut, we highly recommend looking into Harbor Compliance for personalized top-to-bottom nonprofit formation and obtaining IRS 501(c)(3) status.

They handle everything on your behalf and be on-call for questions you have. If you’d like more info, visit their website or read our review.