2017 New Year’s Resolution – Fundraising Compliance
With the new year comes new opportunities to bolster your 2017 fundraising.
You unwrapped the many gifts that came with #GivingTuesday and your end-of-year campaign. You’re planning movements that will cycle donors into the solicitation phase. Right now is an ideal time to do a quick inventory of where your gifts came from and where your organization is registered.
Successful calls to action and donor-centric content, particularly online, often means that your message is spreading further and further. When you reach out to those new donors to solicit their next gift, remember that solicitation triggers registration.
Becoming Licensed to Fundraise
Registration is a legal requirement that varies by state. Many nonprofit leaders believe that having an IRS 501(c)(3) tax exemption is enough to fundraise limitlessly. It’s integral, for sure, but many people do not know that forty-one states have an additional registration requirement for charities.
Think of it as a license to fundraise in your state. By registering, you disclose to the state charity official (usually the Attorney General’s Office or Department of Consumer Protection), your current leadership, annual financial statements, and program and fundraising information.
Knowing and meeting fundraising registration requirements means that you are building your fundraising program on a solid foundation and can focus on telling the story of your mission. You don’t want to get caught by registration pitfalls, risking fines or penalties that cost you time, money, or your reputation. Instead, register everywhere you solicit and rest easy knowing you can fundraise anywhere and anytime.
Fundraising Without Borders
It doesn’t matter if you’re asking by snail mail, email, social media, or through your website. The simple act of asking for a donation qualifies as solicitation. Before you take that step, you want to know that you are compliant with the law, have met licensing requirements, and the necessary disclosures are in place. And then, you’ll want to be certain that ongoing management of state renewals is on the calendar so that your fundraising can continue to grow without disruption.
Any time you apply for a grant, engage in partnerships or solicit corporate sponsors for a high-dollar fundraising event, you can be expected to show proof of charitable registration in that state. Without the proper credentials, your staff may be confronted with an inflexible deadline to become registered, or you might lose the opportunity altogether. Now imagine the opposite — being registered everywhere you solicit, and being able to demonstrate that fact to anyone, at any time. That’s fundraising without borders!
Investing in Compliance
Whether your nonprofit is new or seasoned, registration is a key ingredient for any fundraising program. If you are just starting to reach out to donors or you’re implementing a savvy giving day, remember to register before you solicit. Investing in compliance is the best way to reassure your donors that your mission is a sound investment. For more information about fundraising compliance, check out this two-page Executive Brief or visit our Fundraising Compliance Guide.
Ify Aduba is a Nonprofit Compliance Specialist for Harbor Compliance, a leading provider of compliance solutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Harbor Compliance partners with organizations in every state and over 25 countries abroad to help solve the most challenging compliance problems. With clients that range from the largest organizations in the country to fast-growth startups, Harbor Compliance fully manages government licensing compliance in both nonprofit and business sectors. In her spare time, Ify actively volunteers within her community. She currently serves as President of the Board of the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO), President of the Administrative Ministries Team at Doylestown United Methodist Church, and Board member for the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition. She is also a member of the Doylestown Branch of the American Association of University Women and Doylestown Rotary.