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How To Start A Nonprofit In Connecticut

To start a nonprofit corporation in Connecticut, begin by filing the Connecticut Nonstock Corporation Certificate of Incorporation with the Connecticut Secretary of State. You can file the certificate by mail or online. The nonstock certificate of incorporation costs $50 to file. Once filed with the state, the certificate of incorporation officially creates your Connecticut nonprofit corporation, but truly preparing a nonprofit to pursue its mission involves several additional steps.


Connecticut Nonprofit Filing Options

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CT Nonstock Corporation Certificate of Incorporation

To incorporate a Connecticut nonprofit, you must file the nonstock corporation certificate of incorporation with the Connecticut Secretary of State. Click on any number below to see what information is required in each section of your Connecticut nonprofit’s certificate of formation.

1. Name of Corporation

Your nonprofit’s name needs to be distinguishable from other businesses on record with the Connecticut Secretary of State. The name must also contain either “corporation,” “incorporated,” or “company” (or their corresponding abbreviations), and the name can’t suggest that your nonprofit’s purpose differs from that described in your Certificate of Incorporation. You can run a name availability search on the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website.

2. Members

Determine if your nonprofit will have members, whether or not those members are entitled to vote, and if your nonprofit will have more than one class of members. If your nonprofit will have more than one class of members, include an attachment designating each class.

3. Registered Agent and Address

You can list an individual Connecticut resident or a business authorized to provide registered agent service (like Northwest). The registered agent must be available at the listed street address during normal business hours (an address that becomes part of your nonprofit’s public record). Hire Northwest and the address of our Connecticut registered office goes here.

4. Purpose

The Connecticut Certificate of Incorporation only requires a short, general description of your nonprofit’s purpose, but that won’t satisfy the IRS. If you intend to apply for federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status or Connecticut state tax exemption, make sure your statement of purpose includes the special tax-exempt language required by the IRS.

5. Corporate Email

Connecticut requires you to list an email address, which is where the Secretary of State will send your annual report reminders each year. That sounds convenient, but keep in mind that your Certificate of Incorporation is a public document, which means the email address you list is also public. When you hire Northwest, you can use our email address in place of yours, and we’ll send your annual report reminders instead.

6. Execution

Your incorporator is the individual or business that signs and submits your Certificate of Incorporation. It doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or member of your nonprofit, but the incorporator has to be willing to include a name, address, and signature on the form. When you hire Northwest, we’ll serve as your incorporator.

How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate a Connecticut Nonprofit?

The basic filing fee is $50, but you’ll pay an extra $50 (for a total of $100) if you want expedited processing.

How Long Does It Take to Start a Connecticut Nonprofit?

Connecticut will take about 1 business day to process your filing if you pay an extra $50 expedite fee (for a total filing fee of $100). Standard, non-expedited processing is around 3 business days.

Does a Connecticut Nonprofit Need a Registered Agent?

Yes, your nonprofit must appoint a Connecticut registered agent. It’s a job you can do yourself, but it comes with a lot of downsides. You’ll lose privacy because your nonprofit’s articles are part of the public record, so whatever address you list in your articles is also public. You also have to be available at this physical address every day during normal business hours. It’s simply safer and easier to hire a registered agent service.

If you hire Northwest, you’ll use the address of our registered office on your Certificate of Incorporation, and we’ll always be available during business hours to accept legal notices on behalf of your nonprofit. We’ll scan them and send them to you on the day we receive them, freeing you up to hold meetings, travel, and otherwise manage your organization on your own terms.


Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

If you want to effectively manage your nonprofit’s finances and apply for federal and state tax exemptions, getting an employer identification number (EIN) is pretty much a must. You can apply at the IRS website or you can pay an additional fee for our convenient EIN service when you hire Northwest.


Hold Your Organizational Meeting & Adopt Bylaws

Connecticut requires your nonprofit to write and approve bylaws, but you would need bylaws even if they weren’t required. Bylaws are, after all, the place where your nonprofit spells out its internal rules, and it would be tough to make critical collective decisions without them. Who are your board members? How long will their positions last? How will directors get replaced? What are the different officers’ duties? What procedures will meetings follow? (And so on!) Questions like these require that your nonprofit’s essential practices get defined in advance.

Your nonprofit should adopt its bylaws at its first official meeting, either before or shortly after filing the Certificate of Incorporation with the State of Connecticut. If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS, hold your organizational meeting and ratify your bylaws before applying.

It isn’t easy to write bylaws, but Northwest is here to help. When you hire us to form your Connecticut nonprofit, we provide a free adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as numerous other free nonprofit forms, to help get you started. We also offer a free attorney-drafted nonprofit bylaws template.


Apply for Federal and/or State Tax Exemptions

Nonprofits corporations are not automatically tax-exempt, but you can apply for federal tax-exempt status by submitting an Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS. Just make sure you’re willing to endure a lengthy, expensive application process. The IRS recognizes over two dozen types of tax-exempt organizations, but most nonprofit corporations apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. This is the IRS code for public charities and private foundations.

If your nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, you will be eligible to apply for some tax exemptions at the state level. Visit our Connecticut Tax Exemption page for details.


Submit Your Organization and First Report Form

You’ll file the Connecticut organization and first report within 30 days of forming your nonprofit. It’s basically an initial report that confirms your nonprofit’s contact and organizational information (directors, officers, the date of your organizational meeting, and so on). The filing fee for nonprofit corporations is $50.

When you choose Northwest Registered Agent to form your Connecticut nonprofit, we’ll take care of filing your first report!


Obtain any required state licenses

Does A Connecticut Nonprofit Need A Business License?

Connecticut doesn’t issue a statewide business license, but your nonprofit may need to purchase local licenses to conduct its business. Visit the Connecticut Department of Revenue Service’s website to learn more.

Should My Connecticut Nonprofit Register as a Charity?

If your nonprofit will solicit and collect donations, or otherwise raise funds by holding charitable events, you’ll likely need to register as a charity with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (there are some exceptions, like nonprofit hospitals and religious corporations).

You can register online at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s website. There is a $50 initial registration fee and a $50 renewal fee each year.


Open a Bank Account for Your Connecticut Nonprofit

To open a bank account for your Connecticut nonprofit, you will need to bring the following items to the bank:

  • A copy of your Connecticut nonstock corporation certificate of formation
  • A copy of your nonprofit’s bylaws
  • Your Connecticut nonprofit’s EIN

We recommend calling your bank ahead of time to determine their requirements. If your nonprofit has several directors and/or officers, you may even need to bring a resolution authorizing you to open the account in the name of your nonprofit.


Submit the Connecticut Nonprofit Annual Report

Your nonprofit’s annual report confirms or updates your nonprofit’s contact and membership information for the State of Connecticut. It comes with a $50 fee for nonprofits, and the deadline is always the last day of your nonprofit’s anniversary month. If, for example, you incorporated in November, the deadline for your annual report would be November 30.

When you hire Northwest, you can add our convenient Annual Report Service, for an additional fee, and we can prepare and file your annual report for you.