New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

Charitable Trusts UnitFrequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions relating to charitable trusts.

Why do I need to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

What is the definition of a "charity"? Do I need to register?

How do I register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

Am I required to use the online forms for registration and annual reporting and other submissions to the Charitable Trusts Unit, or can I submit the information by mail using a paper form?

Whom do I call if I have questions regarding the registration process?

After registration, what else is required of my organization?

I know I must contact several governmental agencies to start a charity. What are the agencies, and in what order, should I contact?

What is a pecuniary benefit (conflict of interest) transaction?

How do I dissolve a charity?

I would like to raise funds for an individual in need in my community. What do I need to do?

I am raising money on a social media platform (GoFundMe, Facebook, etc.) for families that were burned out of their home last week. Do I need to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

I am raising money on a social media platform (GoFundMe, Facebook, etc.) for families that have lost their homes due to forest fires. Do I need to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

My organization has established a website, and we accept online donations for a charitable purpose. Do we need to register?

If I collaborate in fundraising with an existing charity that has been determined by the IRS to be exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, do I need to register?

Our charity has a fiscal sponsor. Is the charity required to register and submit annual reports with the Charitable Trusts Unit if the fiscal sponsor is separately registered and files annual reports?

back to topWhy do I need to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

NH RSA 7:19, et seq. requires all New Hampshire charities, and any out-of-state charities planning to solicit donations from New Hampshire citizens, to register with and report to the Office of the Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Unit. Churches are exempt.

back to topWhat is the definition of a "charity"? Do I need to register?

  • Has your organization applied to the Internal Revenue Service to become a Section 501(c)(3) organization, and/or have you received your Letter of Determination from the IRS confirming your 501(c)(3) status?
  • Are you formed for any of the following purposes: benevolent, philanthropic, patriotic, educational, humane, scientific, public health, environmental conservation, civic?
  • Does your organization make a charitable appeal as the basis of any solicitation or any appeal that suggests that there is a charitable purpose to any solicitation?
  • Is the primary purpose/activity of your organization charitable in nature?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, you are required to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit. RSA 7:21, I. If you are not certain, you may file a Request for Pre-Registration Review (Form NHCT-10).

back to topHow do I register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

  • Complete an Application for Registration (Form NHCT-11), attaching all required documents (governing documents, list of members of the board of directors, financial information, IRS Letter of Determination), and submit to the Charitable Trusts Unit together with a $25 filing fee.
  • Refer to the forms, instructions, and instructional video.

back to topAm I required to use the online forms for registration and annual reporting and other submissions to the Charitable Trusts Unit, or can I submit the information by mail using a paper form?

While use of the online forms currently is optional, we strongly encourage use of the online forms to ensure accurate, complete, and timely submissions. The use of the online forms likely will be mandated after a period of implementation.

back to topWhom do I call if I have questions regarding the registration process?

We suggest you read the instructions for the registration application (NHCT-11) first. If you still have a question, contact the Charitable Trusts Unit by email or telephone.

back to topAfter registration, what else is required of my organization?

Charitable organizations must file an annual report with the Charitable Trusts Unit, as required by RSA 7:28,II. Once you are registered, you will receive a signed Certificate of Registration, together with a cover letter stating when your first annual report is due.Refer to the form, instructions, and an instructional video. The Charitable Trusts Unit will endeavor to send the organization by email or regular mail reminders to submit annual reports, but organizations should calendar the deadline to ensure compliance.

Additional Filings:

  • If your organization performs health care services, it must perform a community needs assessment at least every five years and file a community benefits report (NHCT-31) on an annual basis. RSA 7:32-c-32-l.
  • If your organization receives annual gross income of $500,000 or more, it may be required to file an additional financial report or audit. RSA 7:28 III-a, b, and c.
  • If your organization issues charitable gift annuities, it must file an annual certification (NHCT-15). RSA ch. 403-E.

If your organization conducts charitable gaming, it must submit materials to the Lottery Commission. RSA 287-D-5.

back to topI know I must contact several governmental agencies to start a charity. What are the agencies, and in what order, should I contact?

  • New Hampshire Secretary of State, Corporation Division, (603) 271-3244, to file your articles of incorporation, if you choose to incorporate.
  • Town or City Clerk where the organization is based to file a copy of the articles of incorporation. If the organization is not incorporated, file with the clerk the organizational document and bylaws.
  • Internal Revenue Service, to file Form 1023 or 1023-EZ or to apply for recognition as a 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Unit, to file your application for registration (NHCT-11) (See the Forms page). Note: You can file your application with the Charitable Trusts Unit at the same time or prior to filing with the IRS. You may begin fundraising as soon as your organization is registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit, even though the IRS has not yet issued a letter of determination.

back to topWhat is a pecuniary benefit (conflict of interest) transaction?

A "pecuniary benefit transaction'" means a transaction with a charitable organization in which a director, officer, or trustee of the organization has a financial interest. The financial interest can be direct or indirect. An indirect financial interest is one between the organization and a family member, employer or business of the director, officer or trustee. RSA 7:19-a.

There are detailed requirements that a charitable organization must meet before it can enter into a pecuniary benefit transaction. There are also some exceptions. These are discussed in the Guidebook for Charitable Organizations Portable Document Format Symbol.

back to topHow do I dissolve a charity?

A New Hampshire charitable organization that decides to wind up operations must take certain steps to dissolve and distribute any remaining assets. These steps occur after the board of directors votes to cease operations but before the remaining assets are distributed. The winding up process involves the Charitable Trusts Unit, the Secretary of State and the Internal Revenue Service.

The basic steps to dissolve a New Hampshire nonprofit corporation are as follows:

  1. Vote to dissolve is made by a two-thirds vote of a quorum of the directors and, if required by the bylaws, a two-thirds vote of the organization's members. The vote must include a plan for distribution of its assets and payment of its debts. RSA 292:10-a,I.
  2. File a Statement of Dissolution, Form NP-5, with the Secretary of State.
  3. If the organization was recognized as a 501(c)(3) entity, file a final Form 990 or 990-EZ with the Internal Revenue Service.
  4. File the following with the Charitable Trusts Unit on Form NHCT-16 (See the Forms page).
    1. The asset recipient organization's full legal name, address, telephone number, tax ID number, and statement as to its charitable status*;
    2. An itemized listing of assets to be distributed to the recipient organization, by type and value;
    3. The proposed date of distribution;
    4. A statement as any restrictions on the use of the assets to be distributed*;
    5. A copy of the Statement of Dissolution as filed with the Secretary of State; and
    6. A final annual report, including a final financial report reflecting the distribution of any remaining assets.*

* Assets must be distributed in accordance with the articles of incorporation and bylaws of the dissolving charitable organization. The assets are also subject to the terms of any restriction pertaining to them. The distribution of any restricted assets may require court approval. The assets of a charitable organization may not be distributed to individuals. Failure to distribute properly the assets of a charitable organization upon dissolution may lead to legal action by the Attorney General.

back to topI would like to raise funds for an individual in need in my community. What do I need to do?

People are frequently motivated to raise money to provide financial assistance to individuals in their community who encounter an unexpected financial difficulty. For example, when a young child is diagnosed with a serious illness people often want to raise money for that child's medical care. Fundraising for an individual is not a "charitable" purpose; a charity cannot be formed for the benefit of an individual. As such, during a fundraiser to benefit an individual you cannot refer to donations as tax deductible to the donor, and those donations must be claimed as ordinary income. Furthermore, if you open a bank account to hold the funds raised you may need to provide your personal information, including your social security number, and you could be personally liable for any lost or misused funds. You should talk to the bank in question regarding their policies and procedures before opening such an account. Fundraising for Individuals Guidelines Portable Document Format Symbol are found here.

back to topI am raising money on a social media platform (GoFundMe, Facebook, etc.) for families that were burned out of their home last week. Do I need to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

No. As you are raising money to benefit a definite class of people (several families), it is not considered to be a charitable purpose, and you are not required to register. As discussed above, the donations would not be tax deductible, and you therefore may not refer to donations as "tax deductible" to the donor. For more information, review the Fundraising for Individuals Guidelines Portable Document Format Symbol.

back to topI am raising money on a social media platform (GoFundMe, Facebook, etc.) for families that have lost their homes due to forest fires. Do I need to register with the Charitable Trusts Unit?

Yes. As you are raising money for a charitable purpose to benefit an indefinite class of people, you are required to register and report to the Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Unit. If you have any questions about whether you are required to register, you may seek a determination from the Charitable Trusts Unit by filing a Request for Pre-Registration Review (Form NHCT-10) (See the Forms page).

back to topMy organization has established a website, and we accept online donations for a charitable purpose. Do we need to register?

It depends. If your organization is headquartered in New Hampshire, and your website offers a link to make donations to the organization, registration is required, even if you do not otherwise engage in fundraising in New Hampshire through events or solicitation campaigns.

If your organization is not headquartered in New Hampshire, and your website offers a link to make donations to the organization, registration is not required unless the organization (1) performs more than de minimis operations in New Hampshire; (2) engages in additional charitable solicitation in New Hampshire through events or solicitation campaigns; (3) targets persons in New Hampshire by, for example, sending emails messages or other communications that promote the website to persons in New Hampshire; or (4) receives contributions on a repeated and substantial basis from multiple New Hampshire residents. Send us a request for preregistration review (Form NHCT 10), and we will determine whether registration is required.

back to topIf I collaborate in fundraising with an existing charity that has been determined by the IRS to be exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, do I need to register?

Probably not. Indeed, it may be a more efficient use of resources and more effective to collaborate with a local charity that offers a similar mission. However, in order to represent in any way that you are fundraising on behalf of a charity, you must first obtain written authorization to do so by that charity. See RSA 7:28-f. Thus, you may not fundraise for an existing charity without first obtaining the charity’s written authorization.

back to topOur charity has a fiscal sponsor. Is the charity required to register and submit annual reports with the Charitable Trusts Unit if the fiscal sponsor is separately registered and files annual reports?

It depends on whether the charity has a separate identity from the fiscal sponsor.

While fiscal sponsorship arrangements can vary, generally, a fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit with tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that provides fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services either to provide "back office" support to a small charitable endeavor or to help build the capacity of a charitable project during its start-up phase before it is recognized as tax exempt. One of the responsibilities of a fiscal sponsor is to receive charitable donations designated for the sponsored project and then spend funds for or grant funds to that project. The donations are reported as revenue on the fiscal sponsor's annual information return (e.g., IRS Form 990).

If a charity is simply a program of a fiscal sponsor with no separate identity, and the fiscal sponsor is registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit, the charity is not required to separately register and submit annual reports. However, the charity must separately register and file annual reports with the Charitable Trusts Unit if the charity has filed articles of agreement with the New Hampshire Secretary of State, or is an unincorporated association, or has obtained its own federal Employer Identification Number, or if the Internal Revenue Service has issued a determination letter recognizing the charity as tax exempt.

Please note that in either event, the charity should enter into a written agreement with the fiscal sponsor that outlines the responsibilities of the parties.

Portable Document Format Symbol Portable Document Format (.pdf). Visit nh.gov for a list of free .pdf readers for a variety of operating systems.

Charitable Trusts Unit
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3591
charitabletrusts2@doj.nh.gov