Answers to FAQs

When must charities register to solicit charitable donations?

40 states and the District of Columbia have charitable registration laws. State statutes generally require organizations to register with the state before they can solicit contributions.

We ask for contributions online. Do we need to register?

Solicitations occur where they are received by potential donors, and without regard to whether a donation is received in response. If you have a web page that asks for donations, potential donors may come from any state, requiring your charitable registration in multiple states or nationwide.

Does a charity need to register with states that where they are applying for foundation grants?

Yes, especially if your charity also solicits donations in the state.

My charity is no longer soliciting in a state where we are registered - do we need to withdraw our registration?

Yes, to maintain good standing, you must formally withdraw your registration from a state you are no longer soliciting contributions.

What is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is an organization’s legal appointee in a state to receive notice of lawsuit and other legal or government notices. Some states call the registered agent a resident agent, statutory agent, commercial registered agent, or registered office.

What is Foreign Qualification? (Certificate of Registration, Certificate of Authority)

Foreign qualification is the process of registering a nonprofit or business in a state other than the one in which it was incorporated. It allows organizations to conduct activities in a state. The state issues a certificate of authority that authorizes the organization to transact business in the state. Nonprofits must obtain foreign qualification to maintain good standing in a state.

What are Annual Reports?

Annual reports provide organization updates and are due to the secretary of state on a regularly scheduled basis. Nonprofits must file annual reports to maintain good standing in a state.

Do fundraising counsel and professional solicitors need to register with states?

Fundraising counsel and professional solicitors are independent contractors who help with fundraising. While the professional solicitor actively solicits donations on behalf of a nonprofit, a fundraising counsel just offers advice on managing a charitable campaign. About 45 states have statutes requiring professional solicitors to register and provide copies of their client contracts before soliciting. State registration requirements for fundraising counsel are similar but less stringent.

What is cause marketing/commercial co-venture?

Commercial co-venture, which also falls under cause-related marketing, is an agreement between a for profit and nonprofit organizations, whereby the for profit organization launches a sales campaign with an agreement to donate a portion of the purchase price to the non-profit organization.

Do cause marketers/commercial co-venturers need to register with states?

Over 30 states have statutes governing commercial co-ventures. The charity that goes into the commercial co-venture must be registered in applicable states, except if it is within a general exempt category. The for profit entering into a CCV agreement with a non-profit will be required to complete CCV registrations in AL, MA, MS, SC and possibly CA. Upon registration annual reporting will be required from several states. Most states require only the CCV campaign contract/agreement be submitted to them at reasonable amount of time before the start of the promotion/campaign.

What items should be included in a cause marketing/commercial co-venture agreement?
  • The goods or services that are to be provided to the public as part of the promotion
  • The geographic territory of the promotion
  • The actual or estimated dollar amount or percentage of the purchase price or sales that the charity will receive
  • The terms (start and end dates) of the promotion
  • The provision of a final accounting to the charity
  • The date(s) when the funds will be transferred to the charity (within 90 days after commencement of campaign is required)
  • The contract requires signatures of two officers of the charity; only one from the CCV
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