You are here

Do we have to register in all states?

Your Legal Questions Answered

Do we have to register in all states?

We are a multi-state public charity with donors in many different states. We primarily solicit through mail appeals and phone work, as well as personal visits. We don’t hire outside professional solicitors, but rely on staff for the work. Do we have to register in every state in which we have donors? We are registered in the state where our office is based.

Any organization soliciting charitable contributions should check the charitable solicitation registration law of any state in which it is soliciting. It is not sufficient to register solely in the state in which your principal office is located. There are 39 states and the District of Columbia that have charitable solicitation registration statutes, so you have atleast 11 jurisdictions in which you don't have to register no matter how active you are in solicitation.  The states that do have registration laws also have varying grounds for exclusion or exemption from the registration requirements.
Technically, the question is not where your actual donors reside, but where the persons you are asking for contributions reside. Most states have registration laws that require registration before solicitation. There are some exceptions and exclusions from registration, but you won’t know whether you are exempt unless you look.
The Independent Sector recommended a national registration clearinghouse at the Federal Trade Commission among its recommendations to Congress last year prior to the passage of the Pension Protection Act. (See Nonprofit Issues®, April 16, 2006.) Unfortunately, the proposal does not seem to have excited much response. Since churches, hospitals, and schools and colleges are usually exempt from the state registration requirements (although many hospitals and colleges don't realize that they are actually required to file in some states), some of the most powerful lobbying groups for nonprofits in Congress have very little interest in the concept. 
Tuesday, March 23, 2010


There's a summary of the registration requirements -- and some advice about and assistance with the registration process -- at The state charities officials offer links to their offices and other useful information on their website at (NASCO = National Association of State Charities Officials).

There is a multistate registration form that can be used in many states. Here's the link

Add new comment

Sign-up for our weekly Q&A; get a free report on electioneering