Register Your Nonprofit Organization to Solicit Donations - dummies

Register Your Nonprofit Organization to Solicit Donations

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

Many states, the District of Columbia, and some local jurisdictions require nonprofit organizations that solicit charitable contributions to file registration forms before soliciting. This registration is meant to protect the public from solicitors touting illegitimate causes. The regulations differ from state to state, so it’s a good idea to check out your state before starting a fundraising campaign.

Typically, the rules don’t apply unless the nonprofit raises more than $250 a year. Check with your state’s attorney general’s office to be sure your nonprofit is in compliance with all laws. It’s also important to check local laws when raising money through what is known as charitable gaming (bingo, raffles, pull tabs, and so on). Laws regulating these activities often differ from county to county and city to city.

What if you’re raising money online? Guidelines adopted in 2001 by the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) state that any nonprofit that uses fundraising tools to target donors in a specific state must register in that state.

Plus, the 990 tax form for nonprofits asks organizations where they are registered to fundraise. If you’re seeking donations nationally, take all relevant states into account and remember to renew your registrations annually.