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Charitable Registration

Before you raise funds for your nonprofit, read this

Did you know that your nonprofit is most likely required to register with the state before it engages in any fundraising activity? (39 states and the District of Columbia have laws specific to nonprofit fundraising activity that address registration.) Charities that solicit contributions in more than one state or on the internet may be required to register in every state in which solicitation occurs. Some nonprofits use a common form, called the Unified Registration Statement, for that purpose, although generally state specific forms must also be used to meet various state requirements.

  • Nonprofit Fundraising Registration BookHelpful background information about the state laws that regulate charitable solicitation can be found in Chapter 1 of Nonprofit Fundraising Registration The 50-State Guide, published by Nolo (2011).  (Shared here with permission from Nolo.) Note: The Arizona and Florida sections of this text are not up-to-date because of recent law changes in those states.
    • If you are seeking guidance about the law in a specific state, take a look at Chapter 1 which includes citations to the charitable solicitation laws in the states that have such laws, as well as a summary of registration related concerns applicable to nonprofits, professional fundraisers, solicitors, and consultants.
    • Your State Association can serve as a resource if you need guidance on the specific requirements of your state. Also Nonprofit Fundraising Registration The 50-State Guide is a helpful resource not only for state-by-state registration questions but also for the thornier issues of whether and when to register when your nonprofit is soliciting over the internet and/or in multiple states.
    • Nonprofits that raise funds using the internet should be familiar with the Charleston Principles that describe how state charity officials who govern fundraising view internet solicitations.
  • Visit the websites of the regulatory authority in your state for up-to-date information on what forms and filings are required. Find your state's charity official.
  • Some nonprofits, and many religious organizations, are exempt from charitable registration requirements. State laws differ, so be familiar with the law of your state.
    • This summary, prepared for the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, and shared with permission of ECFA and its author, addresses the special treatment of religious organizations in charitable registration regulations.

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