Most states require non-profits that solicit donations in their jurisdiction to register with a state agency.
The simple answer is "it's the law." If you do not register in a state which you are required to do so, you are breaking the state law and your organization can be subject to fines and other penalties. Also unlike many other liabilities of a non-profit, your board of directors can be held personally liable for any imposed fines or penalties by the state or IRS.
Additionally, your organization legally does not have the right to solicit in a state where it is required to register and any contributions solicited may be in legal jeopardy. If a court finds that a non-profit failed to register, it can order that the contributions be paid back to the donor.
Generally, any nonprofit conducting a charitable solicitation within the borders of a state, by any means, is subject to that state's law and is therefore required to register. Generally, the operative terms "charitable" and "solicitation" are defined very broadly and could include, for example, a "Donate Now" button on your website.
In other words, the soliciting organization need not be a "charity" in a strict sense nor have any physical presence of any kind in the state. So, a letter, phone call, or newspaper ad requesting financial support from a state's residents is enough to trigger the coverage of that state's solicitation law.
Significantly, technical compliance with any state's registration law requires initial registration before the first solicitation has been directed into the state. The fact remains that many non-profits have not done the necessary legal homework before launching fundraising campaigns.
If your nonprofit is one of these, you should be very concerned. But you should not be deterred from going ahead with registration because you fear you are breaking a law already and it's too late to comply.
LegalFilings offers Charitable Solicitation Registration services in every state which requires it. Our fee of $250 per state or $5,000 for all required states includes preparation of the necessary forms and supporting documents. Our services include providing your organization with the proper state disclosure notices and we will also notify you of when the renewal registrations flings are due.
Since 2001, we have completed more than 75,000 business filings.
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