How to Name a Nonprofit in Connecticut

Choosing a name for your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is the first step in our complete guide, How to Start a Nonprofit in Connecticut. One of the most important decisions any founder will make is selecting the right name. We’re here to help with our full guide to choosing, validating, and registering a Connecticut nonprofit name in four easy steps.

Check out our other guides for a look at How to Start a Nonprofit Organization or How to Name a Nonprofit in other states.

Recommended: Use our Business Name Generator to brainstorm hundreds of catchy names (with available URLs) for your nonprofit.

Name Your Nonprofit in 4 Easy Steps

Naming your Connecticut nonprofit is easy. Just follow these four simple steps to secure the best name for your 501(c)(3).

Step 1: Choose the Right Name for Your Nonprofit
Step 2: Follow the Nonprofit Naming Rules in Connecticut 
Step 3: Check if Your Business Name is Available
Step 4: Register Your Nonprofit Name

Use our 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to see if your nonprofit’s name is already in use.

Step 1: Choose the Right Name for Your Nonprofit

Selecting the right name for your organization is an important task. In order to choose the name that best represents your nonprofit’s mission and purpose, we recommend following these guidelines:

  • Be specific. A nonprofit’s name should be direct and specific enough to convey its mission. Avoid using vague words or terms that could confuse donors and prospective clients about your organization’s purpose.
  • Make it memorable. Memorability is essential when selecting a name for any business. For nonprofits, selecting a name that will stick in the minds of those who come across it will not only improve your organization’s exposure among donors and volunteers but also make it easier for potential clients to find your services.
  • Keep it professional. Nonprofits rely heavily on their public image in order to attract donors or clients who may use their services — and their first impression will stem from your organization’s name. For this reason, your nonprofit needs a professional name that communicates a serious dedication to its mission and purpose.
  • Make it emotional. Whether your organization provides services for animals, displaced persons, or any other community, emotion and charity have a strong bond. Selecting a name that appeals to the emotions of both donors and clients will help build trust as well as your organization’s credibility.

We recommend selecting at least four to five names that fit your criteria before you start researching their availability. This approach will increase your chances of securing a unique and available name.

Recommended: Use our Business Name Generator to help you find an available and unique name in your state.

Step 2: Follow the Nonprofit Naming Rules in Connecticut

Corporation Name Requirements

Your Connecticut nonprofit name must adhere to the guidelines laid out in Section 33-1045 of the Revised Nonstock Corporation Act:

(a) The name of each corporation formed after January 1, 1961: (1) Shall contain the word “corporation”, “incorporated” or “company”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.” or “co.”, or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; and (2) 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.

(b) Except as authorized by subsections (c) and (d) of this section, a corporate name must be distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of the State from: (1) The corporate name of a corporation or business corporation incorporated or authorized to conduct affairs in this state; (2) a corporate name reserved or registered with the Secretary of the State; (3) the fictitious name adopted by a foreign corporation authorized to conduct affairs in this state because its real name is unavailable; (4) the corporate name of any foreign corporation or business corporation authorized to transact business or conduct affairs in this state; (5) the name of any domestic or foreign limited partnership organized or authorized to transact business in this state; (6) the name of any domestic or foreign limited liability company organized or authorized to transact business in this state; (7) the name of any domestic or foreign limited liability partnership organized or authorized to transact business in this state; and (8) the name of any other entity whose name is carried upon the records of the Secretary of the State as organized or authorized to transact business or conduct affairs in this state.

(c) A corporation may apply to the Secretary of the State for authorization to use a name that is not distinguishable upon his records from one or more of the names described in subsection (b) of this section. The Secretary of the State shall authorize use of the name applied for if: (1) The other corporation, limited partnership, limited liability company or other entity, as the case may be, consents to the use in writing and submits an undertaking in form satisfactory to the Secretary of the State to change its name to a name that is distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of the State from the name of the applying corporation; or (2) the applicant delivers to the Secretary of the State a certified copy of the final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction establishing the applicant’s right to use the name applied for in this state.

(d) A corporation may use the name, including the fictitious name, of another domestic or foreign corporation that is used in this state if the other corporation is incorporated or authorized to conduct affairs in this state and the corporation seeking to use the name: (1) Has merged with the other corporation; (2) has been formed by reorganization of the other corporation; or (3) has acquired all or substantially all of the assets, including the corporate name, of the other corporation.

Putting It Into Practice

Most nonprofits in Connecticut are organized as corporations, but you can choose to organize a nonprofit in four other ways: an unincorporated association, a trust, an association, or a limited liability company (LLC). Each option has specific naming requirements you must follow.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the requirements for naming a nonprofit corporation.

Incorporating is the most common way to organize a nonprofit. While naming rules for corporations vary by state, some requirements apply nationwide. State requirements in Connecticut include:

  • Your corporation’s name must include “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited,” or an abbreviation of any of these terms.
  • Your corporation’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Connecticut, including any reserved names.
  • Your corporation’s name can’t include any words that imply it is related to a government agency.
  • Your corporation’s name can’t include words like “university,” “bank,” “credit union,” or “trust” as a separate word to convey the organization is engaged in banking or trust.

Tax Exemption Requirements

If you plan to file for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), pay close attention to the wording you use in your nonprofit’s name. Any words that imply a political or lobbying affiliation may hinder your ability to file for 501(c)(3) status.

Step 3: Check If Your Business Name Is Available

After you chose one or several name options for your nonprofit, you’ll need to make sure it’s available. Every nonprofit must have a distinguishable name so it’s helpful to confirm the availability of your desired name prior to incorporation.

The top four searches you should perform include:

Connecticut Business Registry Search

To operate a nonprofit corporation in Connecticut, its name must be unique. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Connecticut Business Records Search tool.

Domain Name Search

We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don’t plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Federal Trademark Search

You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to incorporate your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

If you need help with getting a logo for your nonprofit, try branding your business with our Free Logo Generator! Get a unique logo in minutes and start building your nonprofit’s brand immediately.

Web and Social Media Search

A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors or clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 4: Register Your Nonprofit Name

After you choose your nonprofit’s name and confirm its availability, the next step involves registering the organization’s name. You have a few options to achieve a name registration:

Recommended: Read our full, step-by-step guide on How to Register a Business Name in Connecticut.

File for a Name Reservation

In Connecticut, domestic nonprofit corporations are not required to file for a name reservation before incorporation. However, reserving a name can prove beneficial — especially if you aren’t ready to incorporate, but want to ensure the availability of your chosen name.

To file a name reservation in the state of Connecticut:

Name reservations for nonprofit corporations in Connecticut last 120 days and can be renewed once it expires.

Form a Corporation

Incorporating is the most common way to organize a nonprofit and, once you select a name, it’s the next step in making your nonprofit official. Forming a corporation in Connecticut involves a few easy steps:

  1. Name Your Corporation
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. Choose Your Corporation’s Initial Directors and Share Structure
  4. File the Formation Documents
  5. Get an EIN

File for a DBA Name

Filing a trade name, also called a doing business as (DBA) name, in Connecticut allows your nonprofit to operate using a different name than its legal, registered business name. This can prove especially helpful if you want to change the name of an existing organization without filing an amendment to your Certificate of Incorporation.

To learn how to file a DBA or trade name in Connecticut, check out our step-by-step guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start a nonprofit organization in Connecticut?

To officially incorporate a nonprofit in Connecticut, you must file a Certificate of Incorporation with the Connecticut Secretary of State. You also must complete several other essential steps before you file that formation document, which you can find in our step-by-step guide to starting a nonprofit in Connecticut.

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit corporation in Connecticut?

To form a nonprofit or nonstock corporation in Connecticut, it costs $50 for the Certificate of Incorporation and $150 for the first report.

How do I find nonprofits in Connecticut?

Use our handy Connecticut 501(c)(3) Lookup Table to find nonprofits in Connecticut. You can use this tool to see if your preferred nonprofit name is in use or not.

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