Initial Charitable Solicitation Registration: What, When, Where & How
What: Charities soliciting contributions from potential donors must apply for a charitable solicitation registration, license, or permit in most states, and renew them every year (every two years for DC and GA). Exemptions are available in most states, especially for religious organizations, educational institutions (colleges, universities, etc.), and hospitals. Exemptions vary widely by state, and a review of each states statute is required.
When: Registration is required in advance of solicitation, with the exception of CA, which allows a 30-day grace period from the time that charitable assets are first received. For smaller organizations, usually revenue or contributions under $25K, an exemption is available in most states. However, some of these states require a one-time exemption filing.
Where: Charitable registrations/renewals are required in 37 states and Washington D.C. Only nine states: DE, ID, IN, IA, MT, NE, SD, VT & WY do not have a charitable solicitation statute, and thus do not require registration; TX requires registration only by law enforcement, public safety and veterans organizations; AZ requires registration only by veterans organizations. MO will exempt all 501c3 charities, 501c7 (social clubs), and 501c8 (fraternal societies) nonprofits, upon the filing of a one-time exemption request; and LA only requires nonprofits that use paid professional fundraisers/solicitors to solicit contributions in the state.
In most states, charitable registration filings are made at the Office of the Secretary of State (Charities Division), Office of the Attorney General, or a consumer protection or licensing office under the SOS or AG’s office.
How: If you have some spare time, you can do it yourself, but it’s not recommended, unless you use a DIY tool to assist you such as the Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: Nolo’s 50-State Digital Guide or C3 Central. Also, attorneys and CPAs can assist, but their rates tend to be high and many are not experienced with the nuances of managing and maintaining charitable registration filings. For charities short on time and funds, the best solution is to use a service company to file charitable registrations, exemptions and renewals.
For more information, check out the following articles:
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.