Category Archives: Help

Frequently Asked Questions: What is Charity Registration

About the registration process:

What is charitable solicitation registration?

In order for states to provide their constituents with basic information about charities to whom they might donate and protect them and worthy charities from fraudulent ones, most states require charities soliciting in their state to file certain financial, organizational, and governance information.

Are all charities required to register?

Most states have a list of categories of charitable organizations that are exempt from registration. The State Registration Groups page of our questionnaire will help you determine whether or not you are exempt from registration.

When must I register?

Generally, you are not to solicit in a state until you register in the state or are determined exempt, so you should register prior to solicitation in a state. Most states give a 30-day grace period in which you can register after starting soliciting.

In which states am I required to register?

You will need to register in any state in which you solicit, providing that you do not fit in one of their exemption categories. Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming all do not require charitable solicitation registration.

What is solicitation?

States have different definitions, but for the most part it means any oral or written request for funds or services with the promise of the donation going to the support of a charitable purpose. See the definition in the Pennsylvania Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act as a sample.

Does my website count as solicitation?

The Charleston Principles: Guidelines on Charitable Solicitations Using the Internet suggest that internet representation of a charity qualifies as solicitation in a state if it is sent directly to an individual or entity in the state, if there are regular donations coming from the state, or if there is follow-up with donors in the state either by direct mail, telephone, etc. or via other regular contact (such as newsletters, announcements, press releases, etc.)

What is the typical registration process?

The typical process involves:

  1. Initial registration
  2. Renewal registration and/or annual reporting (financial reporting)
      • this usually occurs at a point in time following the end of your fiscal year or on the anniversary of registration
        • a couple states, Georgia and DC, renew biannually
    • a few states do not require registration registration renewal, but do require annual financial reporting

What if I am not able to renew on time?

There are three options that states use — our questionnaire will walk you through the state processes:

  1. Extension of renewal
  2. No extension of renewal, but extension of annual financial report
  3. No extensions — usually because they have a later due date

I use paid fundraising services. Are there additional requirements?

Two things you will need to keep in mind:

  1. A paid fundraiser must be registered in a state before you can begin a solicitation campaign in that state.
  2. Most states require that contracts with fundraisers and commercial co-ventures usually need to be filed with states prior to solicitation or within 30 days (or at least attached to registration forms)

Are there other requirements?

  1. Many states also require business registration, even if you are registered or exempt from charitable solicitation registration.
  2. Maintain records for no less than 3 years — most states require it


About how Simple Charity Registration can help:

How does Simple Charity Registration work?

Our service walks you through a series of questions that will fill in the forms required for the states in which you solicit. It will then produce the form and a checklist and instructions of what you need to do to send in your form. Our How it Works tab will guide you.

Does the charity file the forms or is that part of the service provided by Simple Charity Registration?

The charity files, using the auto-filled forms that appear on the bottom of the left navigation area. There is a checklist attached giving information on where to file, what to attach, and how much to pay, along with additional helpful information.

Is the service fee the same as the state fee? Does the fee include state fees or only the use of the application and printable forms?

Our fee is for our DIY software which streamlines the registration process. State fees are separate and are set by the individual states for either initial registration or renewal/annual reporting.

Our service will help you to determine which type of forms and which states that your organization will need to file your charity compliance documents in as well as help you collect, file and store your organization’s information in an efficient time saving manner.  There are also many resources on our site for your organization to take advantage of and we provide reminder emails for your annual compliance deadlines as well as information on changing state filing requirements.

What if I have questions?

Our Customer Support will be glad to help you with technical questions. We can help with some state specific issues, but we are not legal advisers, so we may refer you to the state websites for help.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or


Charity Resources – Who Should I Call? FAQ’s?

Looking for some help with your nonprofit? Almost all states have an association devoted to nonprofit assistance no matter where your organization is in its lifecycle. Whether you just need a form or something more complex they will most likely have the answer. Most state associations offer online training, research and local events that you can attend to get more familiar with your fellow non-profiteer!

State Association Link
Alabama Alabama Association of Nonprofits
Alaska The Foraker Group
Arizona * Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
Arkansas Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance
California California Association of Nonprofits
Colorado Colorado Association of Nonprofits
Connecticut CT Community Nonprofit Alliance
Delaware * Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement
District of Columbia Center for Nonprofit Advancement
Florida Florida Nonprofit Alliance
Hawaii Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations
Idaho * Idaho Nonprofit Center
Illinois Forefront
Indiana * Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network
Iowa* Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center
Kentucky Kentucky Nonprofit Network
Louisiana Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
Maine Maine Association of Nonprofit
Maryland Maryland Nonprofits
Massachusetts Massachusetts Nonprofit Network
Providers’ Council
Michigan Michigan Nonprofit Association
Minnesota Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Mississippi Mississippi Center for Nonprofits
Missouri Nonprofit Connect
Nonprofit Missouri
Montana  * Montana Nonprofit Association
Nebraska  * Nonprofit Association of the Midlands
Nevada Alliance for Nevada Nonprofits
New Hampshire NH Center for Nonprofits
New Jersey Center for Nonprofits
New Mexico
New York New York Council of Nonprofits
Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York
North Carolina North Carolina Center for Nonprofits
North Dakota North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations
Ohio Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies
Oklahoma Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits
Oregon The Nonprofit Association of Oregon
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations
Rhode Island
South Carolina Together SC
South Dakota *
Texas * Texas Association of Nonprofit Organizations
Utah Utah Nonprofit Association
Vermont  * Common Good Vermont
Washington Washington Nonprofits
West Virginia West Virginia Nonprofit Association
Wisconsin Wisconsin Nonprofits
Wyoming * Wyoming Nonprofit Network
* States that do not have charitable registration requirements as of 9/1/2016.

Most states encourage out of state nonprofits to join their membership or offer free resources so if your state nonprofit association can not answer your question another may have whole libraries full of information for you!!

If you have a great resource and want to share it with us or other nonprofits please send us the information or link and we will post it in a future blog.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or

New Form 8868 for 2017 – 6 Month Automatic Extension of Time to File

990 Filing Due Dates
Tax Year Fiscal Year End Date 990/990EZ/990N 6-month Extension *
2016 12/31/2016 5/16/2017 11/15/2017
2016 1/31/2017 6/15/2017 12/15/2017
2016 2/28/2017 7/17/2017 1/16/2017
2016 3/31/2017 8/15/2017 2/15/2017
2016 4/30/2017 9/15/2017 3/15/2017
2016 5/31/2017 10/16/2017 4/16/2018
2016 6/30/2017 11/15/2017 5/15/2018
2016 7/31/2017 12/15/2017 6/15/2018
2016 8/31/2017 1/16/2018 7/16/2018
2016 9/30/2017 2/15/2018 8/15/2018
2016 10/31/2017 3/15/2018 9/16/2018
2016 11/30/2017 4/16/2018 10/17/2018
* Extension can be filed on line through an IRS Authorized e-File Provider, or by fax or mail.
See the IRS e-file for Charities and Non-Profits page for more details.

SimpleCharityRegistration – The Basics for Navigating Our Site

Thank you for choosing SimpleCharityRegistration and coming to see how it works!!

The Left Navigation Pane

When you start your account, immediately go to the Welcome Page and read it through. There is the quick version and the detailed version to suit your needs. This will be a good resource to return to for further information.

Think of yourself at the top of a funnel that will start with the most general information, and then get more specific. That funnel is controlled by the left navigation bar and the data you put in it.

The Compliance Wizard

The first step is completing the Compliance Wizard which asks you questions that help determine whether and where you need to register and what forms you need to file. You will need to answer all questions pertinent to the states in which you solicit for this process to work. When you have finished with the Compliance Wizard, the state groups and forms should appear at the bottom of the left navigation bar.

The Basic Information

Scroll back up the left navigation bar to see what’s next. We’re still near the top of the funnel, so we need to complete the Basic Information page. This is the most general questions that will be essential for any form you wish to complete.

The Extensions

With that done, if you are intending to renew your registration in a state but are not ready for the deadline, you can use the extensions section to file extensions right away. If you have answered that you want to file an extension in a state that offers one, you should find that completed form here.

The Non-profit Information Section

Otherwise, you will continue through the nonprofit information section, which is divided into subject matter to make it easier for you to answer. Some pages will include state specific questions at the bottom.

On the Key Personnel page and some others you will need to add individual entries by clicking on “Add [blank]” at the lower right.

The State Specific Sections

We now get to go down to the state sections which contain pages of any state specific questions not asked elsewhere and the populated forms.

The Forms

When you click on a form you will get the completed form plus any required lists or additional pages followed by a checklist of instructions for how to file the form, what to attach, and what fees charged by that state.

The Right Side Panel

Additional instructions and notes can be found on the right panel. Please note that these have active links that you can use to get further information. Active links are also found in some questions, such as the exemption questions on the State Registration Groups page. These are usually links to the official state website and will give you access to additional information about individual state requirements.

The Next Year

In addition, when thinking about renewal, our system will send you reminders of upcoming deadlines and save your data to make it even easier for next year.

More Information

You can also get help from our FAQ page, our blog and our YouTube video channel.

If you ever get stuck or don’t understand something, please contact Customer Service. While this process will take work, we are here to make the administration and organization of your charity registration simple.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800)780-6027 or

More of our tutorials can also be seen on our YouTube channel: 

Your Nonprofit Organizations Form 990: What Are They Looking at?

Today I found a fantastic resource that GuideStar has put together called “Highlights of IRS Form 990”.  It gives an overview of the 12 sections of the Form 990 without leaving you feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the form.  What really drew me in was that the presentation was done from the perspective of the reviewer.  What is the importance of each section?

These are some of the things I found interesting:

How to determine what form year you want to look for from the fiscal year and other goodies that can be found in the header section.  It’s not just where you put the address!! (Pt 3 – Video Tutorial)

Brief explanation of what is the difference between unrelated business income (UBI) and revenue and the proper places to report those incomes including Form 990-T (Pt 4)

Discussion on how your mission statement sets the tone for the rest of the document and flows into Section III: Statement of Program Service Accomplishments. I have new respect for that mission statement!! (Pt 5)

In Part VI: Governance, Management, and Disclosures – I was interested to learn how I could use this form to make the non-profit stronger by implementing some of policies discussed this section of the 990 (Pt 7)

Brief explanation on who needs to be included in Section VIII: Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors.  This is always a meaty subject!! (Pt 8)

If you have never worked with the 990 or even if you have it was a nice half hour discussion on the importance of the information that your organization will be presenting to the IRS and interested parties.   It is a good resource to show to new board members and accounting staff who may have not worked prior in the non-profit area.  Plus the presenter had a pleasant voice that kept me engaged!!

The overview can be downloaded and saved as a pdf or they have a complimentary video tutorial that can be found on their website as well as on YouTube and is broken into 10 parts for a total run time of less than 40 minutes.  That is probably my favorite feature as I can listen and learn “one bite at a time”!!

Calendar Year Nonprofit Filers – No Time to Spare!!

Can you believe that it’s almost May 16th?  The financial reporting due date falling on the weekend might have bought you an extra day but it still means that for calendar year organizations their IRS 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N forms are due today!!  If that wasn’t “taxing” enough it also means that for many non-profit organizations that their state charitable solicitation renewals and financial reports are also due today.  Not to worry we have been preparing all year for you!!

Twelve states require calendar year filers to submit their state charity registration renewals or annual financial reports 4.5 months after their fiscal year end which is normally on May 15th.  Although some states do offer some relief, it comes in the form of extensions of time but the requirements vary for each state.  Some only offer extensions online through their own portals like Colorado, Hawaii and Ohio while others like California and New York just require that you send the IRS 8868 Extension Form with your renewal once it is complete. While still others require that you fax, mail or e-mail a form or letter to their offices some with and some without the IRS 8868 Extension Form.

Calendar Year Files State Charity Form Due Dates 4.5 months after FYE
State Filing Type State Extension Allowance Where to get help?
California Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Instructions on
Colorado Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Colorado Online Portal
Hawaii Annual Financial Report up to two – 3 month extensions Hawaii Online Portal
Kentucky Registration Renewal automatic 6 month extension Letter & Instructions on
Massachusetts Registration Renewal up to two – 6 month extensions Letter & Instructions on
New Hampshire Annual Financial Report 6 month extension Form & Instructions on
New York Annual Financial Report automatic 180 day extension Instructions on
North Carolina Registration Renewal automatic 60 day extension Letter & Instructions on
Ohio Registration Renewal up to two – 6 month extensions Ohio Online Portal
Oregon Annual Financial Report up to 180 day extension Letter & Instructions on
South Carolina Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Letter & Instructions on
Virginia Registration Renewal up to two – 3 month extensions Form & Instructions on


Here are some of the ways we’ve been preparing:

  1. We’ve created a website called com where you can store, update and access all your organizations state charity registration information year after year. All the forms, copies of letters and instructions can be found all in one place!!  Your own Simple Charity Registration account!!

Once you have created an account we can help you file extensions in the states where you might need a little more time. Then again if you think you are ready you can print and file your renewal registrations or annual financial forms right away!!

  1. We’ve also created blog posts to help you prepare for registration from our own insights or from places with helpful information like:

How Do I Register if My Financials Aren’t Ready?

State Charity Registration Renewals and Annual Financials: Do You Need an Extension?

The Elephant in the Room: Preparing for Your State Charity Registrations (Part I & 2)

  1. Lastly we have created a special registration package for you organization!! During the month of May we are offering the NOLO’s Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50-State Digital Guide  free to anyone who purchases our “All States” package. The one-year subscription to the digital guide is a $125 value. This state-by-state reference guide was prepared by our partners at NCR and gives guidance on such issues as strategies to reduce your registration requirements, the IRS role, and internet fundraising rules.

Now your ready for this!!  Our team is available to answer any questions you have about using or getting started call us at 800.780.6027 or e-mail us at




Don’t See Your Form? Troubleshooting Your Simple Charity Registration Account

Despite all our best efforts at Simple Charity Registration, sometimes users can’t find their forms, or they get stuck on a certain field, or have other questions about using the site.

Here are some trouble shooting tips to help:

For everyone

  • Your answers to the State Checklist and State Registration Groups pages on the left navigation bar drive the logic of what states and forms you see.
    • You must answer all the questions relevant to your state on those two pages.
  • The page links on the left navigation bar give you the questions you need to prepopulate the appropriate forms.
  • The forms end up as pre-populated .pdf’s.

Don’t see your form

  • Check that both questions of the State Checklist page and all the questions for your state are answered on the State Registration Groups page.
  • Scroll down the site to look for your state below the Banks page.
  • If it’s still not there, you may need to trigger it:
    1. Go back to the State Checklist page
    2. Click ‘No’ on the 1st question for the state about whether you solicit there
    3. Save
    4. Click ‘Yes’ on the 1st question for the state about whether you solicit there
    5. Save
    6. Scroll down the site to look for your state below the Banks page

Stuck on a field?

  • Make sure your answer:
    • has formatting as specified (e.g., mm/dd/yyyy or phone number, etc.) or
    • is not over the maximum number of characters.
  • Be sure to hit “Save” when stopping, or “Continue” if page is completed.

Why does a page have/not have a checkmark?

  • A checkmark appears when you hit “Continue” when you complete a page.
    • Note: Hitting “Continue” will take you to the next unchecked page.
  • There is no checkmark when you hit “Save” and leave a page.

How do I find out what to do?

  • For a quick overview, see our How It Works page.
  • More detailed instructions are on the Welcome page of your account.
  • The Form Preview and Print page on your account gives you information on forms.

Question not answered?

  • Email us at
  • Or call: 800-780-6027
  • Check out our FAQ page:

We’ll be glad to help you.