If a consultant is writing a grant for a charitable organization, does the consultant grant writer need to be registered to solicit in the state where the grant is being requested or would it suffice if the nonprofit is registered to solicit in that state?
The answer depends on what you mean by the question and, in part, on whom you ask. The consultant grant writer never has to “register to solicit” charitable contributions because the grant writer is not soliciting contributions. “Registration to solicit” is required by charities that directly or indirectly solicit for their own benefit in the 39 states and the District of Columbia that have charitable solicitation registration statutes, unless they are excluded or exempted from the statute of the state in which the solicitation is being made. A grant writer who is not a bona fide employee of the charity, if being paid for the work, will probably be required to file a different registration, as a fundraising counsel, because the grant writer is advising the charity or providing written materials for the conduct of the solicitation. The writer will probably have to register at least in the state in which the charity is located if the state has a solicitation registration statute.
Some states, and Utah is a good example, take the position that the grant writer also has to register in their state because the charity uses the fundraising counsel’s work for soliciting in their state. The argument has more validity if the counsel helps make a state-specific request, but some states say that registration is required whether or not the grant writer has any other contact with the state and simply makes general recommendations for the charity to use anywhere.
There are constitutional questions about whether a state has jurisdiction over a writer who works only in another state and provides only material unrelated to the state claiming the requirement to register. I don’t consider the question finally settled, and the grant writer should obtain knowledgeable counsel to advise on the specifics of the situation.
For more on charitable solicitation registration rules, check our (Ready Reference Pages: “Compliance Assessments Protect Charities”), or visit our store to to purchase the recorded version of our webinar State Charitable Solicitation Statutes: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask.