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Do we have to register when "champions" solicit?

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Do we have to register when "champions" solicit?

Our charitable organization is talking to a vendor that will provide the ability for our current donors to becoming solicitors or "champions" by creating a personal fundraising page, so they can raise funds through their contacts, on our behalf. We obviously have no control over who or where they solicit. The vendor providing the service had not been presented with this issue before. Though we won't be knowingly soliciting contributions from residents in other states, we know that it is possible that our "champions" might. Do we have to register in all of the states?

Since most of the charitable solicitation registration statutes require registration before a solicitation is made by or on behalf of a charity, you should be registered wherever your champions will be soliciting on your behalf.  As a practical matter, if you do not know where your folks will be soliciting, you can probably wait until you have a donor from another state that requires registration before you actually register there.  A good faith effort to register as soon as you know that solicitations are being made on your behalf should prevent the imposition of significant penalties.

I assume that your champions will not be paid for their efforts.  If they are being paid, they have to be concerned about registering as fundraising counsel or professional solicitors.  That is a whole other process.

I also assume that your vendor will be paid for its work.  Depending on what it actually does, it will likely be required to register as a fundraising counsel if, in the words of the Pennsylvania statute which is typical of most states, it is engaged to “plan, manage, advise, consult or prepare material for or with respect to” solicitations within the various states.  If it is acting as fundraising counsel, you will have to list it on your own registrations and it is technically illegal to deal with an unregistered fundraising counsel.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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