California Fundraising Licensing

Resources for charities, businesses, professional fundraisers, and individuals conducting charitable solicitation activities
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Below, you'll find licensing requirements for a range of fundraising activities. At a glance, you can see requirements, fees, filing instructions, and links to forms for everything from charitable gaming and cause marketing to professional fundraisers and charitable gift annuities.

Make sure your fundraising activities meet the unique requirements of each jurisdiction where you’re soliciting. Feel free to explore, bookmark, and share!

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Company Licenses

California Nonprofit & Fundraising Company Licenses

California Bingo License

Not required



Charitable Gaming licensure is not required on the State level in California.

Bingo licenses are issued at the county and city level in California.

California Charitable Fundraising Platform Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Law:

California Government Code § 12599.9

Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:No
Notes:

The charitable fundraising platform registration requirement goes into effect on June 12, 2024; however, no late fees will be assessed if filed by October 12, 2024.

Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?No

Automatic Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • A charitable organization’s own platform that solicits donations only for itself
  • A vendor that solely provides technical or supportive services to a charitable fundraising platform so that the charitable fundraising platform can function and operate, including vendors used for hosting or domain services, security certificates, internet access, internet application development, or digital payment processing. If that vendor also performs, permits, or otherwise enables acts of solicitation on its own platform to persons in this state, it is a charitable fundraising platform for its own platform.
  • A sponsoring organization of donor-advised funds, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 4966 of the Internal Revenue Code, that solicits donors to open donor-advised fund accounts or similar accounts, receives recommendations from donors on charitable organizations that may receive grants of funds previously contributed to the sponsoring organization for a donor’s donor-advised fund account, and the sponsoring organization does not list or reference by name one or more recipient charitable organizations for solicitation purposes on its platform for persons who do not have advisory privileges with respect to the granting of funds in a donor-advised fund of the sponsoring organization
  • A person or entity that meets the definition of both a commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes and a charitable fundraising platform shall be only a commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes when the person or entity for compensation performs any of the following acts of solicitation:
    • Direct mail solicitation, excluding electronic mail or messages
    • Estate gift or estate planning solicitation
    • In-person solicitation through a fundraising event, door-to-door or other public spaces, or a vending machine or similar equipment that does not use a person to perform the solicitation
    • Noncash solicitation.
    • Nonincidental acts of solicitation that are not internet based, including solicitation through print, radio, or television
    • Solicitation involving receiving something of value, or a chance to win something of value, in connection with a donation
    • Telephone solicitation
  • A person or entity that meets the definition of both a commercial coventurer and a charitable fundraising platform solely under subparagraph (D) of paragraph (1) shall be only a commercial coventurer when the acts of solicitation through an internet website, service, or other platform to persons in this state are for six or fewer recipient charitable organizations per calendar year, and the commercial coventurer complies with subdivision (b) of Section 12599.2
Law:

California Government Code § 12599.9(2)

Initial Registration

Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

$625

Registration Renewal

Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

$625

Due:

Registrations expire at the end of each calendar year and must be renewed by January 15.

Financial Reporting
Annual Fundraising Report for Charitable Fundraising Platforms or Platform Charities

Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Annually by July 15.

Law:

11 CA ADC § 315

California Charitable Gift Annuity Registration

Agency:California Department of Insurance
Law:

CA Ins Code § 11520 et seq.

Organization Age Requirement:

10 years of continuous existence immediately preceeding licensure.

Audit Requirements:

An audited financial statement is required with the application.

Initial Registration

Form:

Application for Certificate of Authority as a Grants and Annuities Society

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$4,233

Notarization Required?:Required
Notes:

Charities must authorize the creation of the annuity fund by board resolution. In addition, charities need a segregated reserve fund and must follow reserve fund regulations to qualify for issuance of charitable gift annuities.

Registration Renewal

Form:

G&A Annual Statement

Agency Fee:

$136

Due:

Annually within 120 days of the organization's fiscal year end.

Notes:

In addition to annual statements, charities must submit quarterly statements with information on each annuity agreement.

California Charitable Solicitation Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Law:

California Government Code § 12585; California Code of Regulations, Title 11 § 300

Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Yes
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?No

One-Time Exemption Registration

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • The United States, any state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or to any of their agencies or governmental subdivisions
  • A religious corporation sole or other religious corporation or organization that holds property for religious purposes, or to any officer, director, or trustee thereof who holds property for like purposes
  • A cemetery corporation regulated under Chapter 12 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code
  • A committee as defined in Section 82013 that is required to and does file any statement pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 84200) of Chapter 4 of Title 9
  • A charitable corporation or unincorporated association organized and operated primarily as a religious organization, educational institution, hospital, or a health care service plan licensed pursuant to Section 1349 of the Health and Safety Code
  • Educational institutions as defined by Section 10251 of the Corporations Code
Law:

California Government Code § 12584

Notes:

If you believe you are exempt, submit a letter requesting exemption, a copy of the organization's founding document(s), and IRS determination letter for review. Exemptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-1: Initial Registration Form

Instructions:

Initial Registration Guide

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$50

Turnaround:

2-3 months

Original Ink:Not required
Notarization Required?:Not required
Notes:
  • Your organization must register within 30 days of receiving assets (property, funds, etc) that are held in a trust.
  • Any authorized or director may sign. Signature need not be notarized.
  • Some California counties and municipalities may require charities that solicit in-person to register prior to fundraising.
  • Do not file a Form RRF-1 until the Initial Registration has been completed and approved. 
Before you Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  • Check the available exemptions to see if your charity is eligible for exemption from the full registration requirement.
  • Appoint a registered agent to receive legal documents in California.
  • If your charity meets the audit threshold, obtain an audited financial report to submit with your registration application.
  • Look through the list of required attachments and make sure that you have each required document in hand before starting the registration application.

Foreign Applicants:

  • Check the available exemptions to see if your charity is eligible for exemption from the full registration requirement.
  • Appoint a registered agent to receive legal documents in California.
  • If your charity meets the audit threshold, obtain an audited financial report to submit with your registration application.
  • Obtain a certificate of good standing from your home state (to be filed during the foreign qualification process). The certificate cannot be more than 6 months old when filing foreign qualification documents.
  • Look through the list of required attachments and make sure that you have each required document in hand before starting the registration application.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File formation documents with the California Secretary of State.
  2. File an exemption application with the California Franchise Tax Board to obtain a state tax exemption.
  3. Submit a completed Initial Registration Form and all required attachments to the California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. File foreign qualification documents with the California Secretary of State.
  2. File an exemption application with the California Franchise Tax Board to obtain a state tax exemption.
  3. Submit a completed Initial Registration Form and all required attachments to the California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts.
Required Attachments:
  • Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization, Articles of Association, or Trust Agreement (if incorporated, submit endorsed/certified original Articles of Incorporation and any endorsed amended articles stamped by the state in which domiciled)
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • IRS form 1023
  • List of officers and directors
  • Fundraising professional contact information and registration numbers (if applicable)

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

Organizations that are not required to file and do not file IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ because they do not meet the revenue requirements must also file Form CT-TR-1: Annual Treasurer's Report.

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

The renewal fee is based on the registrant's total revenue for the prior fiscal year:

 

  • $25 for less than $50,000 total revenue
  • $50 for between $50,000 and $100,000 total revenue
  • $75 for between $100,001 and $250,000 total revenue
  • $100 for between $250,001 and $1,000,000 total revenue
  • $200 for between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 total revenue
  • $400 for between $5,000,001 and $20,000,000 total revenue
  • $800 for between $20,000,001 and $100,000,000 total revenue
  • $1,000 for between $100,000,001 and $500,000,000 total revenue
  • $1,200 for greater than $500,000,000 total revenue
Due:
  • Annually 4 months and 15 days after the close of your organization's fiscal year. If your fiscal year closes December 31, then renewal is due May 15.
  • Renewals can be submitted as early as the day following the charity's fiscal year-end.
Due Date Extension:

Due dates are automatically extended for 6 months beyond the original due date, however, charities should file a copy of their IRS form 8868 when submitting their renewal if an IRS extension was granted.

Original Ink:Not required
Notarization Required?:Not required
Penalties:

Failure to submit renewal on time can result in loss of tax exemption and assessment of minimum tax of $800, plus interest, and/or fines or filing penalties. The Attorney General will notify the California Franchise Tax Board to disallow your state tax exemption. Directors, trustees, officers, and return preparers are personally liable for these fees and penalties - you cannot use charitable assets to pay them, they must be paid out of pocket!

Notes:
  • Any authorized or director may sign. Signatures do not need not to be notarized.
  • Online filing is available only for charities with a "Current" or "Current - Awaiting Reporting" status.
Required Attachments:
  • IRS form 990 (Schedule B is no longer required and should be excluded)
  • Audited financials (if applicable)

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

Agency Fee:

Varies

Notes:

File a Form RRF-1 for the partial-year (along with all required attachments). The renewal fee will be required based on the total revenue for the reporting period. 

Supplemental Reporting
Notification from Platform Charities

Filing Method:

Online

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Within 30 days of entering into a partnership with a charitable fundraising platform, unless notification was already provided through the platform charity’s registration as a trustee/charity, or through registration of the partnering platform.

Law:

11 CA ADC § 315

Notes:
  • Every platform charity registered as a trustee/charity in California must file Form PL-3 with the Registry when the platform charity enters into a partnership with a charitable fundraising platform to facilitate solicitations on that charitable fundraising platform, unless: notification was already provided through the platform charity’s registration as a trustee/charity, or through registration of the partnering platform.
  • If a platform charity entered into a partnership with more than one charitable fundraising platform in the last 30 days, submit one Form PL-3 for all partnerships.

Cancelation

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

Filing Method:

Mail or online

Agency Fee:

$0-$300 depending on gross annual revenue.

Notes:

To close out your registration, file a final report with the required fee along with a letter explaining that you would like to cancel your registration. Domestic organizations must also submit proof of dissolution with Secretary of State and distribution of assets.

Commercial coventurer is defined as any person who, for profit, is regularly and primarily engaged in trade or commerce other than in connection with the raising of funds, assets, or property for charitable organizations or charitable purposes, and who represents to the public that the purchase or use of any goods, services, entertainment, or any other thing of value will benefit a charitable organization or will be used for a charitable purpose.

California Commercial Co-Venturer Annual Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Law:

California Gov Code § 12599.2

Notes:

Registration is optional.

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-5CF: Commercial Coventurer Annual Registration

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$500

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Notes:

Contracts must be included if any director, officer, or employee of the commercial coventurer is a director, officer, or employee of any charitable organization with which it has contracted to solicit.

Bond Amount:

None

Background Check Requirements: ACCESS PREMIUM DATA

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form CT-5CF: Commercial Coventurer Annual Registration (Renewal)

Filing Method:

Paper

Agency Fee:

$500

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Bond Amount:

None

Financial Reporting

Form:

Form CT-6CF: Commercial Coventurer for Charitable Purposes Annual Financial Report

Filing Method:

Mail or email to pf@doj.ca.gov

Agency Fee:

$0

Turnaround:

If emailed, approval can take place within 2-3 business days.

Due:

Annually by January 30th.

A commercial fundraiser is a type of professional fundraiser. A commercial fundraiser can be a person, corporation, or unincorporated association who is paid by a charity to solicit money or property on the charity's behalf. The commercial fundraiser may solicit donations through various means, such as: direct mail, telephone, email or internet platform, auction at charity events, event ticket sales, vehicle donation, or thrift store operation. Commercial fundraisers may be paid either a flat fee or a percentage of the donations collected in the charity's name.

California Commercial Fundraiser Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Bond Requirements:

$25,000

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-1CF: Annual Registration Form

Agency Fee:

$500

Original Ink:Not required
Notarization Required?:Not required
Notes:
  • With approval from the state, the surety bond requirement may be waived in favor of a FDIC or SAIF insured deposit and form CT-8CF
  • The written contract must contain or state:

    • The legal name and address of the organizations as registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts, unless the charitable organization is exempt from registration.
    • The charitable purpose for which the solicitation campaign or event is being conducted.

    • The obligations of both the commercial fundraiser and charitable organization.

    • If the commercial fundraiser will be paid a fixed fee, the amount of the fee and a good faith estimate of what percentage of the total contributions the fee will comprise. The contract must clearly set forth the assumptions on which the good faith estimate is based.

    • If the commercial fundraiser will be paid a percentage fee, the percentage of total contributions that will be given to the charitable organization. If the solicitation involves the sale of goods or services, or sale of admission to an event, the contract must state the percentage of the purchase price the charitable organization will retain. The percentage must be calculated by subtracting from total contributions and sales receipts not only the commercial fundraiser's fee, but also any additional fundraising costs the charitable organization must pay.

    • The effective and termination dates of the contract, and the date the solicitation will start.

    • A provision that states that all contributions received by the commercial fundraiser will, within five working days of receipt, either be deposited in a bank account solely controlled by the charitable organization or delivered in person to the charitable organization.

    • A statement that the charitable organization will exercise control and approve the content and frequency of any solicitation.
      The maximum amount the commercial fundraiser plans to pay individuals or entities to secure any person’s attendance at, or approval, sponsorship or endorsement of, a fundraising event.

    • Provisions specifying that the charitable organization has a right to cancel the contract without any liability or expense, 10 days after the date the contract is executed. After the initial 10-day cancelation period, the organization may cancel the contract with 30-days notice and payment for services provided by the commercial fundraiser for up to 30 days after the notice is served.

    • Provisions specifying that after the initial 10-day period, the charitable organization has a right to cancel the contract for any reason without liability if the commercial fundraiser or its agents make material misrepresentations, harm the charitable organization’s reputation, or are found to have been convicted of a crime arising from charitable solicitations.
      The contract must be signed by the commercial fundraiser’s authorized contracting officer and an official of the charitable organization who is authorized to sign the contract by the governing board of directors.

    • For more detailed information about the mandatory contract requirements, see Government Code sections 12599, subdivision (i) and 12599.3.

     

Before you Apply:
  • All names and addresses under which the commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes is known and operates
  • Name, address, and title of each person responsible for directing and supervising the work of the commercial fundraiser
  • Types of charitable purposes' activities 
  • Name, address and relationship of any director, officer, or employee of the commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes or the charitable organization who has been contracted to solicit
  • Explanation of any denial, suspension, or revocation  of licensure, registration, or permitting,
  • Explanation of any legal or disciplinary action against the commercial fundraiser or any of its representatives in relation to fundraising activity
Required Attachments:
  • Copies of all contracts for each affiliated professional solicitor and commercial fundraiser
Bond Amount:

$25,000

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form CT-1CF: Annual Registration Form (Renewal)

Agency Fee:

$500

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Original Ink:Not required
Notarization Required?:Not required

Contract Filing

Form:

Form CT-10CF: Notice of Intent To Solicit For Charitable Purposes - Commercial Fundraiser

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

File a notice of entry into contract at least 10 days prior to the start of the performance of the contract.

Financial Reporting

Form:

Form CT-2CF: Annual Financial Report – Commercial Fundraisers

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Annually by January 30th.

A fundraising counsel can be a person or organization who is hired by a charity to plan, manage, advise, counsel, consult, or prepare materials to solicit donations for charitable purposes. Unlike the commercial fundraiser, a fundraising counsel does not solicit donations from the public, and does not receive or exercise any control over the solicited funds or property. Instead, the donations go directly to the charity.

California Fundraising Counsel Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-3CF: Annual Registration Form - Fundraising Counsel

Agency Fee:

$500

Notes:
  • The written contract must contain or state:

    • The legal name and address of the organizations as registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts, unless the charitable organization is exempt from registration

    • The charitable purpose for which the solicitation campaign is being conducted.

    • The obligations of the fundraising counsel and charitable organization under the contract.

    • A statement that the fundraising counsel will not solicit funds or property for charitable purposes or hire anyone else to do so.\

    • A statement that the fundraising counsel will not receive or control funds or property solicited for charitable purposes or hire anyone else to do so.

    • A statement that the charitable organization exercises control and approves the content and frequency of solicitation.

    • A clear statement of the fees and any other forms of compensation that will be paid to the fundraising counsel.

    • The effective and termination date of the contract, and the date the solicitation will start.

    • Provisions stating the charitable organization’s right to cancel the contract without liability for 10 days following the date the contract is executed; and the charity’s right to cancel the contract after the initial period by giving a 30-day notice and paying fundraising counsel for services provided by the fundraising counsel up to the effective date of the notice.

    • For more detailed information about the mandatory contractual requirements, see Government Code section 12599.1, subdivision (f).

Before you Apply:
  • If there are common directors, officers and employees between the fundraising counsel and the charitable organization for which services are being provided a copy of the contract will need to be filed. Otherwise, there is no requirement that a copy of the contract be submitted unless specifically requested by the Attorney General's Office.

     

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form CT-3CF: Annual Registration Form - Fundraising Counsel (Renewal)

Agency Fee:

$500

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Contract Filing

Form:

Form CT-11CF: Notice of Intent To Solicit For Charitable Purposes - Fundraising Counsel

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

File a notice of entry into contract at least 10 days prior to the start of the performance of the contract.

Notes:

The written contract must contain or state:

  • The legal name and address of the organizations as registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts, unless the charitable organization is exempt from registration
  • The charitable purpose for which the solicitation campaign is being conducted.
  • The obligations of the fundraising counsel and charitable organization under the contract.
  • A statement that the fundraising counsel will not solicit funds or property for charitable purposes or hire anyone else to do so.
  • A statement that the fundraising counsel will not receive or control funds or property solicited for charitable purposes or hire anyone else to do so.
  • A statement that the charitable organization exercises control and approves the content and frequency of solicitation.
  • A clear statement of the fees and any other forms of compensation that will be paid to the fundraising counsel.
  • The effective and termination date of the contract, and the date the solicitation will start.
  • Provisions stating the charitable organization’s right to cancel the contract without liability for 10 days following the date the contract is executed; and the charity’s right to cancel the contract after the initial period by giving a 30-day notice and paying fundraising counsel for services provided by the fundraising counsel up to the effective date of the notice.

California Raffle Registration

Game Type:

Raffles

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Organization Age Requirement:

1 year of continuous existence in California.

Initial Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Form:

Form CT-NRP-1: Nonprofit Raffle Registration

Agency Fee:

$30

Registration Renewal

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charities and Fundraisers
Form:

Form CT-NRP-1: Nonprofit Raffle Registration (Renewal)

Agency Fee:

$30

Due:

Annually by September 1.

California Registration Certificate

Game Type:

Poker, Baccarat, and other games of chance.

Agency:California Office of the Attorney General - Bureau of Gambling Control
Organization Age Requirement:

3 years of continuous existence in California.

Age Restrictions:

Participants must be at least 21 years old.

Notes:

Registration allows charities to host one game night over the course of a year.

Initial Registration

Agency:California Office of the Attorney General - Bureau of Gambling Control
Filing Method:

Online only.

Agency Fee:

$100

Registration Renewal

Agency:California Office of the Attorney General - Bureau of Gambling Control
Filing Method:

Online only.

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Annually

Individual Licenses

California Individual Nonprofit & Fundraising Licenses

California Individual Professional Fundraiser Registration

Not required



Professional Solicitor licensure is not required on the State level in California.

Solicitors who are not employed by a professional fundraising firm but operate independently may be required to register. Employees of professional fundraising firms are generally not required to register as an individual solicitor in California.

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