Pennsylvania 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!

Pennsylvania charitable solicitation license, Pennsylvania fundraising license
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Company Licenses

Pennsylvania Nonprofit & Fundraising Company Licenses

Pennsylvania Charitable Gaming Licenses

Not required



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

Bingo licenses and small games of chance licenses are issued at the county level in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Charitable Gift Annuity Registration

Not required



Charitable Gift Annuity licensure is not required on the State level in Pennsylvania.

No filing is required, but charities need to meet certain conditions before issuing charitable gift annuities. Pennsylvania certain charities from insurance regulation related to charitable gift annuities if they meet the description offered in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, have been in continuous existence for at least 3 years, and have unrestricted assets of at least $100,000 plus half of the principal value of issued annuities. The charity must also be an educational institution, hospital, senior citizen center, religious institution, or charitable organization registered with the department of state.

Law:

Pennsylvania Charitable Gift Annuity Exemption Act

Pennsylvania Charitable Organization Registration

Agency:Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations - Charities Section
Law:

10 Pennsylvania Statutes, Chapter 4B, § 162.1 - 162.7

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

One-Time Exemption Registration

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Any charitable organization which receives contributions of $25,000 or less annually, provided that such organization does not compensate any person who conducts solicitations
  • Educational institutions, the curricula of which in whole or in part are registered with or approved by the Department of Education, either directly or by acceptance of accreditation by an accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education, and any auxiliary associations, foundations and support groups which are directly responsible to educational institutions
  • Hospitals which are subject to regulation by the Department of Health or the Department of Public Welfare and the hospital foundation, if any, which is an integral part thereof
  • A local post, camp, chapter or similarly designated element or a county unit of such elements of any veterans' organization chartered under Federal law and any service foundation recognized in the bylaws of such organization; a bona fide organization of volunteer firemen; a bona fide ambulance association; a bona fide rescue squad association; or a bona fide auxiliary or affiliate of any of the above mentioned organizations (provided that all fundraising activities are carried on by volunteers, members or an auxiliary or affiliate thereof, and those volunteers, members or affiliates receive no compensation directly or indirectly for the fundraising activities)
  • Public nonprofit library organizations which receive financial aid from State and municipal governments and file an annual fiscal report with the State Library System
  • Senior citizen centers and nursing homes which are nonprofit and charitable and which have been granted tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 provided that all fundraising activities are carried on by volunteers, members or officers of the Senior Citizen Center and those volunteers, members or officers receive no compensation, directly or indirectly, for the fundraising activities
  • Bona fide parent/teacher associations or parent/teacher organizations as recognized in a notarized letter from the school district in which they are located
  • Any corporation established by an act of Congress of the United States that is required by Federal law to submit annual reports of its activities to Congress containing itemized accounts of all receipts and expenditures after being fully audited by the Department of Defense
Form:

Form BCO-9: Request for Approval of Exemption/Exclusion

Agency Fee:

$0

Law:

10 PA Stat § 162.6

Notes:

If your organization is based in Pennsylvania, it may still be required to file an Institutions of Purely Public Charity Statement.

Initial Registration

Form:

Form BCO-10: Charitable Organization Registration Statement

Instructions:

Instructions for Registering

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$15-250, depending on gross contributions

Turnaround:

2-3 weeks

Notes:
  • Read the exemptions chart carefully and check to see if you still need to file the Institutions of Purely Public Charity Statement.
  • Some Pennsylvania counties and municipalities may require charities that solicit in-person to register prior to fundraising.
Before you Apply:

All Applicants:

  • Check the available exemptions to see if your charity is eligible for exemption from the full registration requirement.
  • If your charity meets the audit threshold, obtain an audited financial report to submit with your registration application.
How to Apply:

Domestic Applicants:

  1. File entity formation documents with the Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
  2. Submit a Charitable Organization Registration Statement and all required attachments to the Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations - Charities Section.

Foreign Applicants:

  1. Determine whether or not your charity will need to foreign qualify based on your activity in Pennsylvania. If not required, skip to number 3.
  2. File foreign qualification documents with the Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
  3. Submit a Charitable Organization Registration Statement and all required attachments to the Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations - Charities Section.
Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS determination letter
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • List of other states where registered to solicit

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form BCO-10: Charitable Organization Registration Statement (Renewal)

Filing Method:

Mail or online.

Agency Fee:

$15-250, depending on gross contributions

Due:
  • Annually within 10.5 months after the end of the organization's fiscal year.
  • There is no official start to the renewal period, so renewals may be submitted as soon as financials become available for the most recently completed fiscal year.
Due Date Extension:

No extensions are available for charitable registration due dates.

Penalties:

An organization failing to file a registration by the due date must pay an additional fee of $25 for each calendar month or part of a month after the date on which the registration was due to be filed.

Notes:
  • The renewal due date is indicated on the certificate of registration you receive after your initial filing.
  • You must attach an annual financial report.
Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990
  • Audited financials (if applicable)
  • List of officers and directors
  • Professional fundraising contracts
  • Only if amended: IRS determination letter, articles of incorporation, and bylaws
  • List of other states where registered to solicit

Change of Fiscal Year

Form:

Form BCO-10: Charitable Organization Registration Statement

Agency Fee:

Varies

Notes:

Fiscal year can be changed during the standard renewal process.

Cancellation

Form:

Form BCO-2: Non-Renewal Form

Agency Fee:

$0

Notes:

To close out your registration, file a non-renewal form with any required attachments.

Pennsylvania Commercial Co-Venturer Registration

Not required



Commercial Co-venturer licensure is not required on the State level in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania does not currently have a traditional registration requirement for commercial co-venturers, but they may need to follow other regulations before and after fundraising events.

Pennsylvania Institution of Purely Public Charity Registration

Agency:Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations - Charities Section
Law:

10 P.S. § 371. et seq.

Notes:

Organizations that are not required to register under the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act but meet the definition of a purely public charity, as defined in The Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act, should register as an institution of public charity instead of registering as a charitable organization.

Registration to Obtain Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Bona fide duly constituted religious institutions and such separate groups or corporations which form an integral part of a religious institution and are exempt from filing an annual IRS 990 Return
  • An institution of purely public charity which receives contributions of less than $25,000 per year provided that the institution's program service revenue does not equal or exceed $5,000,000
Form:

Purely Public Charity Registration Statement (Exemption)

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$0

Renewal to Maintain Exemption

Exemption Eligible Organizations:
  • Bona fide duly constituted religious institutions and such separate groups or corporations which form an integral part of a religious institution and are exempt from filing an annual IRS 990 Return
  • An institution of purely public charity which receives contributions of less than $25,000 per year provided that the institution's program service revenue does not equal or exceed $5,000,000
Form:

Purely Public Charity Registration Statement (Exemption Renewal)

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Annually within 135 days of the organization's fiscal year end. The due date is May 15th for organizations with a fiscal year end date of December 31.

Initial Registration

Form:

Purely Public Charity Registration Statement

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$15

Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990

Registration Renewal

Form:

Purely Public Charity Registration Statement (Renewal)

Filing Method:

Mail

Agency Fee:

$15

Due:

Annually within 135 days of the organization's fiscal year end. The due date is May 15th for organizations with a fiscal year end date of December 31.

Required Attachments:

  • IRS form 990

Professional fundraising counsel means a person who is retained by a charitable organization for a fixed fee or rate under a written agreement to plan, manage, advise, consult or prepare material for or with respect to the solicitation in this Commonwealth of contributions for a charitable organization, but who does not solicit contributions or employ, procure or engage any compensated person to solicit contributions and who does not have custody or control of contributions. A bona fide salaried officer or regular, nontemporary employee of a charitable organization shall not be deemed to be a professional fundraising counsel provided that the
individual is not employed or engaged as professional fundraising counsel or as a professional solicitor by any other person.

Pennsylvania Professional Fundraising Counsel Registration

Agency:Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations

Initial Registration

Form:

Form BCO-150: Registration Statement for Professional Fundraising Counsel

Agency Fee:

$250

Turnaround:

15 working days

Notes:
  • DIRECT MAIL AND GRANT WRITING SERVICES: A person who solely provides direct mail or grant writing services may register as a professional fundraising counsel provided all the following conditions are met:
    1. The person does not at any time have custody or control of contributions.
    2. The person’s compensation is not related to the amount of contributions received.
    3. The charity has control and approval over the content and volume of all solicitations. 
  • Written Contract
    • There must be a written contract between a professional fundraising counsel and a charitable organization which must be signed by two authorized officials of the charitable organization, one of whom must be a member of the organization’s governing body, and the authorized contracting officer for the professional fundraising counsel.
      • Any addendum to a contract not specifically referenced in a contract must also contain the necessary signatures. A contract must be filed with the Bureau no less than ten working days prior to the performance by the professional fundraising counsel of any service with respect to the charitable organization’s solicitation of contributions from Pennsylvania residents. A contract filed with the Bureau that cannot be approved is not considered filed. You may need to amend the date services are to commence for any contract not able to be approved by the Bureau since the contract must be re-filed at least ten working days prior to any services.
      • A contract or any addendum to a contract must be re-signed by the required individuals if changes are made to the contract or the addendum. 
  • A Certificate of Registration is sent to the professional fundraising counsel upon approval of registration and each registration is valid for one year from the date of its approval or one year from the date of any prior registration that is still in effect. 
Before you Apply:
  • Provide the name of all persons in charge of any counsel services. This includes those that provide counsel services and those that supervise.
  • Provide information about the relationship between owners, directors, officers or employees of the applicant related by blood, marriage or adoption within the organization, within the charitable organizations, contracted, or within any vendors providing goods and services directly or indirectly to the charitable organization. 
  • Provide the date organization first acted as a professional fundraising counsel with respect to a charitable organization’s solicitation of  contributions from Pennsylvania residents
Required Attachments:
  • Attach a list of the names and residence addresses of all principals of the applicant, including officers, directors, and owners.  An applicant formed as an individual is required to list his/her self as a principal. 

Contract Filing

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

File a copy of the written contract between the charity and fundraising counsel at least 10 days prior to the start of each solicitation campaign.

Professional solicitor means a person who is retained for financial or other consideration by a charitable organization to solicit in this Commonwealth contributions for charitable purposes directly or in the form of payment for goods, services or admission to fundraising events, whether such solicitation is performed personally or through his agents, servants or employees or through agents, servants or employees especially employed by or for a charitable organization who are engaged in the solicitation of contributions, the sale of goods or services or the production of fundraising events under the direction of such person, or a person who plans, conducts, manages, carries on, advises, consults, whether directly or indirectly, in connection with the solicitation of contributions, sale of goods or services or the production of fundraising events for or on behalf of any charitable organization, but does not qualify as a professional fundraising counsel within the meaning of this act. A person who is otherwise a professional fundraising counsel shall be deemed a professional solicitor if his compensation is related to the amount of contributions received. A bona fide salaried officer or regular, nontemporary employee of a charitable organization shall not be deemed to be a professional solicitor provided that the individual is not employed or engaged as professional fundraising counsel or as a professional solicitor by any other person.

Pennsylvania Professional Solicitor Registration

Agency:Pennsylvania Department of State - Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
Bond Requirements:

$25,000

 

  • A professional solicitor shall, at the time of making application for registration and renewal of registration, file with and have approved by the department a bond, in which it shall be the principal obligor in the sum of $ 25,000, or a greater amount as prescribed by the regulations of the department and which shall have one or more sureties satisfactory to the department whose liability in the aggregate as such sureties will at least equal that sum and maintain the bond in effect as long as the registration is in effect.
  • The bond shall run to the Commonwealth for use of the secretary, Attorney General and any person who may have a cause of action against the obligor for any losses resulting from malfeasance, nonfeasance or misfeasance in the conduct of solicitation activities.
  • A professional solicitor which is a partnership or corporation may file one $ 25,000 bond or an amount specified by regulation of the department on behalf of all its partners, members, officers, directors, agents and employees
Notes:

This registration also applies to sole proprietors doing business as professional solicitors.

Requirement Notes:

Important information for Professional Solicitors

Initial Registration

Form:

Form BCO-155: Registration Statement for Professional Solicitor

Agency Fee:

$250

Turnaround:

 15 Days

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required
Before you Apply:
  • The address of the principal place of business of the applicant and any Pennsylvania addresses, if the principal place of business is located outside this Commonwealth.
  • The form of the applicant's business.
  • The names and residence addresses of all principals of the applicant, including all officers, directors and owners.
  • Whether any of the owners, directors, officers or employees of the applicant are related by blood, marriage or adoption to any other directors, officers, owners or employees of the applicant, any officer, director, trustee or employee of any charitable organization under contract to the applicant or any supplier or vendor providing goods or services to any charitable organization under contract to the applicant.
  • The name of all persons in charge of any solicitation activity.
  • Any other information required by the regulations of the department.

Registration Renewal

Form:

Form BCO-155: Registration Statement for Professional Solicitor (Renewal)

Agency Fee:

$250

Due:

Annually

Original Ink:Not required
Notarize:Not required

Contract Filing

Form:

Form BCO-170: Solicitation Notice

Agency Fee:

$25

Due:

File a solicitation notice at least 10 days prior to the start of each solicitation campaign.

Financial Reporting

Form:

Form BCO-165: Financial Report

Agency Fee:

$0

Due:

Within 90 days after a campaign has ended and on the anniversary of commencement for campaigns lasting more than a year.

Individual Licenses

Pennsylvania Individual Nonprofit & Fundraising Licenses

Pennsylvania Individual Professional Fundraiser Registration

Not required



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

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 Pennsylvania.

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