California Fundraising Licensing

Resources for charities, businesses, professional fundraisers, and individuals conducting charitable solicitation activities
- Rated 4.4/5 by 99 clients on Google+
View Guide Contents

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!

Filter LicensesClear Filters
Company Licenses
(3)
(1)
(1)
(1)
(1)
(1)
Individual Licenses
(1)

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.

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 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

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.

Initial Registration

Form:

Form CT-1: Initial Registration Form

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.

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, 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
  • Professional fundraising contracts (if applicable)
  • Audited financials (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:

$0-$300 depending on gross annual 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 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. 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 the renewal application for the new fiscal year along with a letter stating that the organization has changed their fiscal reporting period.

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.

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 Charitable Trusts
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:

$350

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Bond Amount:

None

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.

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 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
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 cancellation 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:

$350

Due:

Annually by January 15.

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize: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 Charitable Trusts

Initial Registration

Form:

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

Agency Fee:

$350

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:

$350

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 Charitable Trusts
Organization Age Requirement:

1 year of continuous existence in California.

Initial Registration

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

Form CT-NRP-1: Nonprofit Raffle Registration

Agency Fee:

$20

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.

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.

There’s a Better Way to Stay Compliant Stop spending precious time managing state-by-state
                 fundraising requirements.  Take advantage of our full-service compliance solutions and get back to
                 focusing on what’s most important: fulfilling your organization’s mission.  Reduce Your Workload

Learn about fundraising in other jurisdictions:

© 2012 - 2021 Harbor Compliance. All rights reserved. Harbor Compliance does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice. Use of our services does not create an attorney-client relationship. Harbor Compliance is not acting as your attorney and does not review information you provide to us for legal accuracy or sufficiency. Access to our website is subject to our Terms of Use and Service Agreement.