No sooner than spring arrives do we begin planning our summer barbeques, vacations, and road-trips. Having survived the winter, that ribbon of highway leading to the sandy beach never looked so good. Back at the office, you might also be making plans to capitalize on your expanding database and donor lists having captured more potential donors than ever during last year’s annual appeal. As it has become easier to reach potential donors online who reside in every state and country, how tempting it is to begin sending these new potentials personal solicitations and inviting them to your special events. I warn you, however, to tread with caution.
Many states regulate charitable solicitations and require nonprofits who are soliciting in their states to register with the state office that regulates charities. Under some state laws, solicitations must also include a special disclosure statement notifying the public about the availability of current financial statements for the nonprofit or about the fact that registration does not imply an endorsement of the state agency for the nonprofits. Registration fees vary and penalties for not following the solicitation laws could be hefty. It is important to look at the solicitation laws in each state you intend to conduct solicitations just to be sure that you are following the letter of the laws. Some states accept the Unified Registration Statement, while others do not.
Did you know? The Standards for Excellence® program’s publication, “Disclose It: A Charitable Nonprofit’s Guide to Public Disclosure Requirements,” includes a detailed discussion on multi-state solicitation regulations and information about how to remain in compliance with them. This document is free and available to Standards for Excellence Institute® members through the members only section of our website. Disclose It is also provided as an attachment in the Fundraising Practices and Openness Standards for Excellence® educational resource packets. Hard copies are also available upon request.