California Charities Pan Philanthropic ‘Warning Label’

California Charities Pan Philanthropic ‘Warning Label’

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“By doing that you are essentially saying that donors should be suspicious of charity,” said Nancy Berlin, policy director for the California Association of Nonprofits headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. “It’s a buyer-beware kind of label.” Berlin categorized the bill as a “misplaced attempt at trying to increase transparency.” Resources already exist to help potential donors determine whether a charity is doing good work, and Form 990s are readily available.

The fear is that the required link would negatively impact giving and that implementation of the bill would be expensive for charities to comply with and for the state to enforce. Any charity, worldwide, that seeks donations from California residents would have to redesign webpages and reprint brochures, posters and other materials, Berlin said.


David Thompson, vice president of public policy for the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C. opined that the bill would infringe upon organizations’ free speech as it would mandate the inclusion of content. “Suspect is a polite word,” Thompson said of the proposal. “Flat-out wrong is the reality.”

Thompson was unaware of any precedent for a bill resembling Assembly Bill 2855. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the past, has ruled against states that have attempted to mandate speech. Should other states follow California’s lead, charity websites could end up looking like advertisements for attorneys general’s offices, according to Thompson.

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The NonProfit Times

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