On August 1, 2014, the State of Maine will eliminate its requirement under the Charitable Solicitations Act that all fundraising consultants, known as “professional fundraising counsel,” must be licensed by the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. This includes any person or entity that is paid by a charitable organization to plan, manage, advise or provide consulting services related to charitable solicitation in Maine. Although the registration and licensing requirement for consultants is being eliminated, the change in the law provides a good opportunity for those involved with charitable organizations to review the other often-neglected requirements of the Charitable Solicitations Act (Title 9 M.R.S.A. §§ 5001 – 5018).
First, regardless of whether the organization has a principal place of business in Maine, all charitable organizations that are not specifically exempted are required to become licensed in order to solicit charitable contributions in Maine. This includes any entity that is organized or operated for any charitable purpose and (1) makes any oral or written request for any contribution, directly or indirectly, to potential donors in Maine or (2) accepts or obtains contributions from donors in Maine for any charitable purpose.
Second, any person or entity who, alone or through its employees or agents, solicits contributions from any Maine resident on behalf of any charitable organization for a fee or other form of payment must be licensed by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation as a “professional solicitor,” with some narrow exceptions. This requirement applies whether or not the charitable organization is in Maine.
The August 1 change to the Charitable Solicitations Act only affects professional fundraising consultants. Therefore, please remember that the other requirements of the Act affecting charitable organizations and professional solicitors are still applicable. Registration is simple in most cases, and forms can be found on the Maine Professional and Financial Regulation webpage.