Soliciting Contributions Legally: What Your Organization Needs to Know Before It Raises Funds

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In July 2010, the Tennessee Department of State assessed $50,000 in civil penalties on the Veterans Support Organization (VSO) for violating a number of the state's charitable solicitation statutes, including failure to register with the state's Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming. Like Tennessee, many other states regulate charitable solicitations in an attempt to protect their residents from solicitation fraud. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia now have some form of charitable solicitation regulation, with 39 of those (plus the District of Columbia) requiring registration by soliciting charities. In addition, many municipalities have adopted their own fund raising regulations. Nonprofits must be aware of the requirements in states and localities where they solicit funds, lest they find themselves inadvertently in violation of the law and facing penalties.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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