What we’re learning about the challenges of complying with multi-state charitable registration

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One of the benefits of serving as a resource and advocate for the nation's largest network of nonprofits is that we can listen and learn from local charitable nonprofits about their challenges. As #GivingTuesday approaches, with an increasing focus on how nonprofits can prepare to participate, we've seen an uptick in traffic to our resources pages on charitable solicitation registration. We've also heard concerns about the challenges of complying with the separate laws in 43 states that require charitable nonprofits to register prior to fundraising activities when asking residents of those states for donations.

What's the connection between giving days and charitable solicitation registration? Technology now allows nonprofits to solicit gifts via the internet and anyone to use his or her own email or smart phone to ask people to donate to an organization. Giving days invariably reach people across state lines and result in charitable gifts that come from far and wide – meaning that many contributions come from people who live in other states. And there's the rub. Just participating in a giving day may expose a nonprofit to registration requirements in multiple states.  (Update! We produced a report on Charitable Solicitation Compliance that thoroughly explains many of the challenges. 1/2017).

Our website provides opportunities for readers to submit comments. We recently received this guest blog post that details how challenging it is for a small nonprofit, with annual revenue under a million dollars, to register in multiple states – so challenging in fact, that the nonprofit’s executive director has decided not to participate in #GivingTuesday. But we are also hearing from nonprofits and fundraising professionals alike that giving days are here to stay. So, will small nonprofits be disadvantaged because of the cost to comply with state charitable solicitation registration requirements? Or will advocacy by charitable nonprofits result in changes to state laws so that all nonprofits can participate in giving days and use crowdfunding (or not-yet-invented methods of fundraising) without the confusion and risks of noncompliance that exist today? Only time will tell.

We encourage you to read the story of one small nonprofit grappling with multi-state charitable solicitation registration, and we’d be most interested in hearing your nonprofit’s story.

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