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The legal requirements for fundraising registration are ever changing. As a FREE service to the nonprofit community, we gladly provide registration tips and updates both to our clients and to do-it-yourselfers.

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States That Charge Late Fees at Initial Registration

It is the solicitation, not the donation, that triggers the registration requirement.

If you have solicited without first registering you will encounter fines and/or back filings that are required by some states. These are unavoidable, and they do not go away. In most cases the fines are statutory and cannot be appealed.

Almost every state requires that you declare, on first filing, the date (month and year is close enough) on which your organization first solicited residents of that state. Your President and/or Treasurer of the Board will sign that initial application. Many states include the phrase “under penalty of perjury” and require signatures be notarized. The date and its sworn affirmation become part of the public record.

States that currently impose fines and/or back filing requirements include: CA, CO, DC, IL, MA, NM, PA, and WI. In brief these are their requirements:

  • CA - current filing plus two years of back filings and annual fees if you solicited in those years

  • CO - $60 fine, current filing plus two years of back filings if you solicited in those years

  • DC - certificate of authority annual reports and late fees as far back as 1963 (in addition to the $80/biennial back filing fee, there is a $50/biennial filing late fee for 1998-present, $65/year late fee 1963-1997)

  • IL - $300 fine plus three years of back filing

  • MA - current filing plus three years of back filings and annual fees if you solicited in those years

  • NV - $100 fine

  • NM - current filing plus up to 10 years of back filings and fines of $100 per year if you solicited in those years (not currently being enforced)

  • OH - $200 (enactment expected in 2016)

  • PA - $25 per month fine beginning with the month of first solicitation.

  • RI - $300 fine (not currently being enforced)

  • WI - signed consent agreement admitting to breaking the law and accepting unspecified fines for future breaches.

It doesn't hurt to ask the reviewing regulator to waive these fines and/or back filing requirements, but organizations should be prepared to pay for not having previously registered in advance of soliciting for donations, as required by law with each state, and do the work to come into compliance.

(This list is accurate as of December 11, 2015.)