Professional Fundraisers, Fundraising Counsels, & Commercial Co-Venturers
Licensing for fundraising professionals and companies.
Individuals and companies that fundraise for charities or advise them on charitable campaigns may be required to register at the state level prior to offering their services. This requirement does not apply to employees of charitable organizations, but it can include activities ranging from solicitation and consulting to sharing the proceeds of a sale or event with a charity. Professional fundraising companies, for example, often need to register as a firm and complete individual registrations for each solicitor before they solicit on behalf of a charity.
Individual Solicitor Requirements
Overview of Requirements
Only 15 states currently register individual solicitors at the state level: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Individual Solicitors are registered through the same regulatory body as fundraising firms in these states, however, the individual requirements are decidedly less onerous than those of firms.
Individual solicitor registration goes by different names depending on the state. For example, in Georgia the registration is called solicitor agent while in South Carolina it is known as Individual Professional Solicitor.
Initial Registration Fees
Fees for initial registration range from $0 to $80. Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Rhode Island charge nothing to register, while New York registrations cost $80. The average registration fee is $20 while the most common filing fee is $0.
Individual registration renewal is relatively similar from state to state. While every other state requires registrations to be renewed annually, Missouri does not require individual registrations to renewed. Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from $0 for several states to $80 in New York. Individuals can expect to pay closer to the national average of $22 when renewing a registration, however, the most commonly applied fee is $0.
Fundraising Firm Requirements
Overview of Requirements
A business entity offering professional fundraising services to the public must register with the Attorney General or the relevant state agency that oversees charitable solicitation. A fundraising registration is necessary to practice in most states and firms practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees and even criminal charges.
Registration for professional fundraisers usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the Secretary of State. Common legal structures for firms are corporations or limited liability companies (LLC). Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.
After registration with the Secretary of State, firms must register through the relevant state agency, most often the Attorney General’s office. Professional fundraising registrations are generally divided by the types of fundraising services that a firm might provide. There are three generally accepted categories for fundraising: professional fundraiser, fundraising counsel, and commercial co-venturer.
- Professional fundraisers take an active role during fundraising campaigns, and they
solicit for donations on behalf of the charitable organizations that require their services.
of their direct involvement in solicitations, charitable fundraisers face greater regulations
Explore professional fundraiser 50-state requirements
- Fundraising counsels manage and consult on charitable campaigns but do not actively
for the charitable
Explore fundraising counsel 50-state requirements
- Commercial co-venturers are for profit entities that partner with charitable
during charitable sales campaigns to raise funds for the charity. These campaigns generally come
the form of businesses offering a certain percentage of the sales of a good to the
Explore commercial co-venture 50-state requirements
Registration requirements vary by state, but almost every state requires fundraisers to submit contracts with charitable organizations as a part of registration. Contracts must also be submitted when an already registered fundraiser agrees to fundraise for a new charity. For most states contracts and a solicitation notice must be submitted at least 10 days prior to the start of the solicitation campaign, but South Dakota requires at least 30 days of notice.
Professional fundraisers need to also be aware of the ongoing financial reporting requirement that most states have in place. Typically a fundraiser must submit a financial report within 90 days after the completion of a charitable campaign, although this requirement also varies by state. For example, California assigns a fixed due date of January 30th while New Mexico calls for a report every six months.
Initial Registration Fees
Fees for initial registration range from $0 to $1,000. Several states charge nothing to register, while Massachusetts and Indiana registrations go up to $1,000 depending on the registration type. The average registration fee is $200 while the most common filing fee is $250.
Firm registration renewal is relatively similar from state to state. While every other state requires registrations to be renewed annually, Illinois has professional fundraising consultants renew on a biennial basis.
Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from $0 for several registration types to $1,000 in Massachusetts. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $180 when renewing, however, the most commonly applied fee is $250.