It’s not about your nonprofit’s address. It’s about the addresses to which you send your appeals for support.
In my last post, I introduced the topic of Charitable Solicitation Registration. As a reminder, Charitable Solicitation Registration is a way in which states protect their citizens by regulating who can solicit donations. If your nonprofit sends solicitations to households in several states, you may need to be registered in each of those states.
How Do You Apply?
With 39 states requiring separate registrations, there has been an effort to simplify the process. A unified multi-state application is accepted by 36 states and the District of Columbia. However, these states may require different appended documents and different reporting requirements. For more information visit, www.multistatefiling.org.
There are legal firms and other organizations that can be hired to assist nonprofits to apply and manage these registrations. A nonprofit can certainly do this in-house, but it requires a commitment of staff time and ongoing attention.
What About Online Solicitation?
There are not yet formal laws governing internet solicitation, however, the “Charleston Principle” has been accepted as a guideline. It basically says that if you are targeting online solicitations towards residents of a state and that state requires registration, the nonprofit should register. A link to the full document can be found at this link on the Association of Fundraising Professionals website: http://www.afpnet.org/ResourceCenter/ArticleDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=3309
What If a Nonprofit Does Not Register?
The state usually learns about a nonprofit’s noncompliance when a citizen complains. It is a violation of the law to solicit without registration. There can be substantial fines; however, states do try to work with the nonprofit to achieve compliance.
The best advice is to consult with your attorney as to your specific registration requirements and whether or not your nonprofit is in compliance.