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Registering to Fundraise in Each State

You’ve decided to start your own non-profit charity to raise money for a cause you are passionate about. This is great, but there is a vital step you must first take before you can send out your first ask and/or accept the first dollar. You must register to fundraise.

Specifically, a charity must register with their state in order to solicit charitable contributions if state law requires and others where it solicits funds. Currently, there are 39 states and the District of Columbia that have such requirements.1

As each state has its own registration requirements, it is important to research the filing requirements (which change frequently), keep a list of the states in which your organization is registering and how far along in the registration process your organization is, and ensure registration deadlines are met.

Every year thereafter,3 your organization is required to renew its registration with each state in which it is registered and continues to solicit charitable contributions. Most states require a completed renewal form and payment of a fee. Similar to the initial registration, will need a copy of your organization’s most recently filed Form 990, your most recent audited financial statements (if applicable) and in some states a notarized signature on renewal form. A few statesallow renewals through a web site. Each state has a different deadline to renew, and many states will grant an extension to file if requested in writing by the deadline. It is very important to keep a calendar of the deadlines to renew in each state – late fees add up very quickly!

Registering to fundraise in most states requires the following:

  • A completed registration form and payment of a fee
  • The organization’s articles of incorporation and by-laws
  • A list of the organization’s board of directors and officers
  • A copy of the determination letter that the organization received from the IRS
  • The methods the organization intends to use to solicit charitable contributions
  • A copy of the organization’s most recently filed Form 990

Some states also require your organization’s most recent audited financial statements if the revenues exceed a certain threshold, and others require a notarized signature on registration forms. A few states also require your organization to have a registered agent with a valid mailing address within the state in order to register2.

Your organization will receive a letter from each state that approves the registration application. If the application is lacking in some way, the state will send a letter requesting additional information or documentation. Some states require a registered organization to include a specific disclosure regarding its registration with all solicitations for charitable contributions. Smaller organizations without dedicated staff typically outsource registration and renewal.

Overall, remember that your organization needs to register in a state if it solicits charitable contributions in that state. Whether you ask for money by email, over the phone, by mail, in person, through a website or through a fundraising event, these are all considered soliciting charitable contributions.

If you’re unsure if your organization should register with a particular state, reach out to Caritas Registration, LLC at info@caritasregistration.com or by calling (480) 428-3392 today and we’ll help you determine what steps, if any, you need to take to get into compliance.

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1The states that do not require a charity to register to solicit are Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Texas (unless raising funds for veterans or public safety), Vermont, and Arizona (unless raising funds for veterans). Additionally, none of the U.S. territories have such a law.

2States that require a registered agent with a local mailing address within their state include Michigan and North Dakota. The District of Columbia also requires it. Some states allow the Secretary of State or a key officer to be named.

3Some require renewal bi-annually. These include Georgia and the District of Columbia. Missouri does not require renewal at all. 

4States that allow an organization to renew online include AL, AK, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ME, MS, NJ, NM, NY, OH, RI, SC, TN, UT, WA, WI.

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Form 990 Deadline for Calendar Year Taxpayers

Today, May 15th is an important tax date for nonprofits whose fiscal year ends June 30th or December 31st.  If the organization’s fiscal year ends June 30th, today is the last day to file the federal tax form.

If the tax return is filed late, the IRS imposes late fees based on the organization’s gross receipts ($20 day per day for organization’s whose gross receipts are less than $1 million and $100 per day for organization’s whose gross receipts are more than $1 million).  Failure to file Form 990 for three consecutive years will result in automatic loss of exemption.

If the organization’s fiscal year ends December 31st, the federal tax form is due today.  If the tax form is not ready, the organization should request an extension with the IRS.  This can be completed by submitting Form 8868 – Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File An Exempt Organization Return.  The IRS now grants an automatic six (6) month extension but the form is still required to be filed.

For organizations that have a fiscal year which ends June 30th, September 30th and December 31st, today is also an important date if the organization is registered to solicit in states that follow the IRS deadlines.  Extensions may be requested with the states for organizations with a fiscal year end September 30th or December 31st.  For organizations with a fiscal year end of June 30th, most states will expire, with no further extension, today.  Prepare and submit the application(s) as soon as possible to avoid accruing late fees.

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