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 support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

 

Religious Exemption from Charity Registration – Do You Qualify?

What Does Religious Exemption Mean Regarding State Compliance?

Our blog on religious exemption at the federal level started with a joke, so here we go again (sort of).

A few years ago, the show How I Met Your Mother had a running gag that Canadians were afraid of the dark. After the lights go out in a Canadian expat bar in New York and everyone complains, the exasperated and defeated Canadian on the show asserted, “Nobody likes the dark.”

And so it goes with state compliance for charities. It is fair to say that, “Nobody likes state charitable solicitation registration.” Those who have the slightest inclination that they might be exempt are eager to find that they are, but some exemption criteria are hard to understand from state to state. Religious exemption is primary among those because state definitions vary.

So, how do you tell if you’re exempt from state charitable solicitation registration?

  1. Churches and their integrated auxiliaries – In nearly every state, if not all, churches and their integrated auxiliaries are exempted from charitable solicitation registration, either by:
    1. not being included in the definition for charitable organization
      1. (ex. Mississippi for churches; Pennsylvania), or
    2. by being given a direct exemption because no 990 is required by IRS
      1. (ex. Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota)
  2. Religious organizations required to file a 990 will need to
    1. file in some states
      1. (ex. Alaska, Virginia, West Virginia); and
    2. will be exempt in others
      1. (ex. Connecticut, Rhode Island, Utah).

You may find the summary of religious exemptions provided by the National Council of Nonprofits to be helpful for you.

In addition, if you open a free, no-obligation account on Simple Charity Registration, you will find the exact wording of the state exemption questions and links to where you can find the legal definitions to assist you. Plus, if you determine that you must register or that you need to apply for exemption, or write to the state to get confirmation that you are exempt, you can proceed to do so using our 4 Simple Steps to Compliance.

We can show you that you no longer need to be afraid of the dark!

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800)780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

This information is not intended as legal advice or instruction.

8 Common Mistakes With Charity Registration in Michigan

When we talked with the Michigan Charitable Trust Section about the exemption process for our last blog, we received a treasure trove of information on how to avoid common mistakes when submitting registration, renewal, and exemption forms to their office. We are glad to share them with you.

  1. Foreign (out-of-state) charities need a Resident Agent in Michigan. This can be a third party provider or a sister charity or even a board member.
  2. You can’t report on a time period that has not already passed. If you are doing an initial registration and you have not yet filed your financial forms, submit the registration with a letter identifying your organization’s FY end date and when your 990/Audit will be complete. Your organization will be put into a pending status until you submit the current 990.  A pending organization may solicit unless otherwise notified.
  3. Provide all necessary documentation. This is actually a sticking point with most states. Before submission, carefully check that you have all materials requested in the state’s instructions. Michigan has very thorough instructions and Simple Charity Registration also provides a checklist of required attachments.
  4. Michigan nonprofit corporations need 3 directors on their board of directors. Your Michigan-based nonprofit corporation board of directors needs to have a minimum of 3 members (unless it is a private foundation or a corporation formed to care for a dentally under-served population). Note, this is for nonprofit corporations formed under the laws of the State of Michigan and does not apply to foreign (out-of-state) charities.
  5. 990-N filers need to complete financial information on their registration form. The registration or renewal form will be incomplete without it.
  6. Don’t include Schedule B of the IRS 990. Michigan doesn’t require it, so there is no need to make it public record.
  7. Pay attention to financial audit and review requirements and that your 990 and audit/review cover the same fiscal year. Essentially, you will need to provide a review or audit by a certified public accountant (CPA) if your total contributions plus fundraising minus government grants is between $275,000-$525,000. If that figure is over $525,000 you are required to attach a financial audit prepared by an independent CPA using generally accepted accounting principles. Don’t forget to attach your IRS 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF as well. Michigan may provide a one-time waiver to these requirements. For specifics, see the Michigan line-by-line form instructions.
  8. BONUS: 4 exemption tips in 1 for the Michigan Request for Exemption (CTS-03) form:
    1. Educational Exemption: This only applies to educational institutions located in Michigan.
    2. Hospital Exemption: An out-of-state licensed hospital applying for this exemption must show documentation from their regulator in their home state.
    3. Exemption based on getting all funds from a charity already registered with Michigan: This exemption from the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act (COSA) cannot be used if your organization is self-funded. It only pertains to being funded in whole by another charity registered in Michigan.
    4. Documentation: Include the necessary documentation to prove your exemption claim as explained in the chart on pages 2-3 of the Michigan Request for Exemption (CTS-03) Form.

The takeaway for today is that the Michigan Charitable Trust Section reads your application thoroughly and will request additional or corrected information if needed. Save yourself and your charity some time by filing correctly the first time.

And of course, using Simple Charity Registration can help you do just that.

Charity Registration Exemption in Michigan

If you’ve ever registered in Michigan or even looked into it, you might have been confused by their several different forms, rules, and exemption categories. Michigan has enveloped both their Charitable Solicitations and Charitable Trusts exemptions into a multi-level registration and exemption process similar to New York’s,

The Charitable Solicitations Act (COSA) requires that:

A charity that solicits or receives contributions from Michigan sources in excess of $8,000, or a charity that compensates individuals for fund raising services, must have a charitable solicitation license, unless an exemption applies. It is important to note that a Michigan Charitable Solicitation License (MICS) is required for those organizations that receive contributions even if the contributions are not actively solicited.

This is the regular charitable solicitation registration that we think of. In addition, Michigan includes registration for any Michigan charity or a foreign (out of state) charity holding assets in Michigan under a separate law, the Charitable Trusts Act (STCPA). Both laws are for the protection of Michigan residents to ensure that donor monies go to the purposes intended.

Since each law carries its own exemptions and registration requirements, charities soliciting in Michigan as described above and/or holding assets in Michigan will need to complete the Michigan CTS-03 form to help them determine which registration(s) they need to do based on which exemptions they may fall under.

While the form may seem confusing to look at, the questions are clear and the process is easy to follow.

  • An organization with no exemptions files the solicitation registration (COSA) form CTS-01 and renews with CTS-02.
  • An organization with both exemptions files the CTS-03 and does not need to file that form again (renew) after they receive the determination letter from MI that they are exempt unless and until something changes in their status.
  • An organization exempt from solicitation registration (COSA) files the CTS-03 and the CTS-05 No renewal on the CTS-03 (see above).
  • A foreign organization exempt from charitable trust registration STCPA needs to file the CTS-01 solicitation registration (COSA) and the CTS-03 Request for Exemption. No renewal for the exemption (see above). File CTS-02 for COSA renewal.

Using Simple Charity Registration will make it even easier.

If you want to know more, go to www.michigan.gov for a smart explanation of charitable trusts and charitable solicitation in Michigan.

June Newsletter – Nonprofit Renewal Deadlines, Audits, & Upcoming Webinar

Summer Salutations

June 30th State Charity Registration Deadlines

Did you know that not only do you need to file an extension with the IRS you need to also file for an extension of time to file with the Secretary of State or the Attorney General’s office for your Charity Registration Renewal or Annual Financial forms?

Eight states have due dates that are 6 months after the fiscal year end so for 67% of our customers they should be preparing to send their state renewals or preparing extensions for Kansas, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Tennessee.  

Alaska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are not far behind with due dates beginning September 1st. If you are waiting for your financials to be ready, sign into your account today to print and send in your extension forms if not file your renewal packages today!!

Other states to be aware of are DC, FL, GA, NV, OK, RI, UT and WV which use the organization’s registration anniversary date as the renewal due date which is dependent on your previous registration.  Those dates can be found on your last registration approval letter from the state or the state’s website.

Audits

Did you know that 22 states have audit requirements??  Audit requirements begin at 200K for some state registrations and renewals while most average around 500K for an independent audit.  Total revenue is the trigger for most audits while contributions are the basis for other states and about half have some type of exclusion for government agency fees & grants as well as some “other types” of income.  Read the Blog

Webinar

If you would like to get to know us better or need a refresher join our webinar on July 6, 2017 at 2:00 EST.  Please register at  Simple Charity Registration – annual state charity registration made easy!

See how it works click here

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please contact us at 800-780-6027 or support@simplecharityregistration.com for more detailed answers.

Is My Nonprofit Organization Required to Have an Audit?

Is your organization required to submit an audit with your state charity registration or renewal?? Simply stated, “Yes”!! Over half of the states that require state charity registration and annual financial reporting do require audited Financial Statements by a independent CPA in addition to the IRS 990 reporting.

Most states base their requirements on Total Revenue while the others base theirs on Total Contributions while some exclude government agency fees & grants, foundation grants, membership fees and investment income.

State Financial Statements Review Audit
Alabama No Audit Required
Alaska No Audit Required
Arizona Veteran’s Organizations Only – No Audit Requirement
Arkansas Revenue > $500K
California Revenue > $2M
Colorado No Audit Required
Connecticut Revenue > $500K *
Delaware
DC No Audit Required
Florida $500K to 1M Contributions > $1M
Georgia Revenue < $500K $500K to 1M Revenue > $1M *
Hawaii Revenue > $500K *
Idaho No Charity Registration Required
Illinois Contributions > $300K **
Indiana No Charity Registration Required
Iowa No Charity Registration Required
Kansas Contributions > $500K
Kentucky No Audit Required
Louisiana No Audit Required
Maine No Audit Required
Maryland $300K to $750K Contributions > $750K *
Massachusetts 200K to $500K Revenue > $500K
Michigan $275K to $525K Contributions > $525K *
Minnesota Revenue > $750K
Mississippi $250K to $500K Contributions > $500K *
Missouri No Audit Required
Montana No Charity Registration Required
Nebraska No Charity Registration Required
Nevada No Audit Required
New Hampshire Revenue > $500K to $1M Revenue > $1M
New Jersey Revenue > $500K
New Mexico Revenue > $500K
New York $250K to $500K Revenue > $500K
North Carolina No Audit Required
North Dakota No Audit Required
Ohio No Audit Required
Oklahoma No Audit Required
Oregon No Audit Required
Pennsylvania  $100K to $300K Contributions > $300K *
Rhode Island Revenue > $500K
South Carolina No Audit Required
South Dakota No Charity Registration Required
Tennessee Revenue > $500K *
Texas Veteran’s and Police Organizations Only – No Audit Requirement
Utah No Audit Required
Vermont No Charity Registration Required
Virginia No Audit Required
Washington No Audit Required
West Virginia $100K to $200K Contributions > $ 200K *
Wisconsin $300K to $500K Contributions > $500K *
Wyoming No Charity Registration Required
* These states excluding certain types of revenue such as government agency fees & grants,
foundation grants, membership fees and investment income.
** $25K if professional fundraiser usedAs of 4/30/17

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

North Dakota Corporate Registration/Qualification

Out of state charitable corporations must obtain a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State office if they conduct activities in North Dakota which includes soliciting for donations.  A non-profit corporation can do this by filing a Certificate of Authority Foreign Corporation Application (SFN 13100).

A foreign corporation using a name other than its corporate name must also file the Trade Name Registration Form (SFN 13401) and renew annually.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing the Certificate of Authority Foreign Corporation Application which can be provided by a service or an individual residing in North Dakota. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

For more information on corporate registration, review the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website or you could read up on Corporate Registration and Registered Agents on our blog.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

Oregon Corporate Registration/Qualification

Out-of-state charitable corporations must register prior to solicitation with the Department of Justice Charitable Activities Section.  Those forms can be found on SimpleCharityRegistration.

Nonprofit corporations organized in another state which solicit, hold assets or do business in Oregon must also register with the Oregon Secretary of State Corporations Division. They must file an Application for Authority to Transact Business-Nonprofit which can be submitted by mail or online at the Oregon Business Registry.  The annual renewal must be done online by February 1st of each year.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for service of process filing as a Foreign Non-profit can be provided by a service or an individual residing in Oregon. An entity cannot designate itself as its own registered agent.  If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

DC Corporate Registration/Qualification

Nonprofits must file for a basic business license in DC which in lieu of completing a charity registration application.  This includes completing corporate registration with the FN-1 Form as a foreign entity conducting business in DC. The best way to register in DC is online through the Department of Consumer and Regulator Affairs (DCRA), Corporations Division, CorpOnline Web Portal.

It is best to register through their portal as you can track your progress from the corporate registration to the tax exempt application and then on to registering your non-profit as a business with the BBL-EZ Form.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing both as a Foreign Non-profit and for completing the BBL-EZ application both can be provided by a service or an individual residing in DC. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

If you plan on using a name in DC other than your registered corporate name, you also will need to register that Trade Name.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.

Colorado Corporate Registration/Qualification

Every charitable organization that solicits contributions in Colorado must complete the charity registration process before engaging in any solicitation activities. This includes registering your out-of-state (foreign) nonprofit with the Colorado Secretary of State by filing a “Statement of Foreign Entity Authority“.

You will need to have a Registered Agent for filing the Statement of Foreign Entity Authority and the charity registration application both can be provided by a service or an individual residing in Colorado. If your organization is registering nationwide you are going to need registered agents for several states so we recommend using a national agency so that you only have one point of contact for that service. Here is the link to the blog we posted earlier in the year on the role of Registered Agents in state charity registration process.

All of Colorado’s forms must be filed online including the Charity Registration. More information about the process can be found on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or concerns at (800) 780-6027 or support@SimpleCharityRegstration.com.