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 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

Notarize: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.

Fact Checked:12/4/17

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.

Fact Checked:12/4/17

California Charitable Solicitation Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Law:

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

Foreign Qualification is Prerequisite:Yes
Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?No
Fact Checked:4/10/20

One-Time Exemption Registration

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Religious organizations
  • Most educational institutions
  • Nonprofit hospitals
Notes:

If you believe you are exempt, make a request in writing to the California Attorney General's Office prior to soliciting. You will receive an exemption letter in return.

Fact Checked:1/16/20

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-1: Initial Registration Form

Instructions:

Initial Registration Guide

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$25

Turnaround:

2-3 months

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.
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
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • IRS form 1023
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
Fact Checked:4/14/20

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report; Charities with annual revenue under $50,000 must also file Form CT-TR-1: Annual Treasurer's Report

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$0-$300 depending on gross annual revenue.

Due:

Renewal is 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. 

Due Date Extension:

Due dates can be extended for 6 months beyond the original due date by attaching a copy of IRS form 8868 and an IRS-approved extension request when submitting your 990 and renewal form RRF-1.

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 of pocket!

Notes:
  • Any authorized or director may sign. Signature need not be notarized.
Required Attachments:
  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
Fact Checked:2/4/20

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

Agency Fee:

Varies

Notes:

File the renewal application for the new fiscal year along with a letter stating that the organization has changed their fiscal reporting period.

Fact Checked:12/7/18

Cancellation

Form:

Form RRF-1: Annual Registration Renewal Report

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.

Fact Checked:7/14/20

California Commercial Co-Venturer Annual Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Notes:

Registration is optional.

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-5CF: Commercial Coventurer Annual Registration

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$350

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Fact Checked:12/15/16

Registration Renewal

Form:

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

Filing Method:

Paper

Agency Fee:

$350

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Fact Checked:12/15/16

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.

Fact Checked:8/5/19

California Commercial Fundraiser Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Bond Requirements:

$25,000

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-1CF: Annual Registration Form

Agency Fee:

$350

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required
Fact Checked:8/1/19

Registration Renewal

Form:

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

Agency Fee:

$350

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required
Fact Checked:8/1/19

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.

Fact Checked:8/1/19

Financial Reporting

Form:

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

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Annually by January 30th.

Fact Checked:8/5/19

California Fundraising Counsel Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Fact Checked:7/5/18

Initial Registration

Form:

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

Agency Fee:

$350

Fact Checked:8/1/19

Registration Renewal

Form:

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

Agency Fee:

$350

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Fact Checked:8/1/19

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.

Fact Checked:8/1/19

California Raffle Registration

Game Type:

Raffles

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Organization Age Requirement:

1 year of continuous existence in California.

Fact Checked:1/10/18

Initial Registration

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Form:

Form CT-NRP-1: Nonprofit Raffle Registration

Agency Fee:

$20

Fact Checked:1/10/18

Registration Renewal

Agency:California Attorney General - Registry of Charitable Trusts
Form:

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

Agency Fee:

$20

Due:

Annually by September 1.

Fact Checked:1/10/18

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.

Fact Checked:1/10/18

Initial Registration

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

Online only.

Agency Fee:

$100

Fact Checked:1/10/18

Registration Renewal

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

Online only.

Agency Fee:

$100

Due:

Annually

Fact Checked:1/10/18

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.

Learn about fundraising in other states:

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