Charitable Fundraising Registration

Charitable Fundraising Registration

Like any other entity, nonprofits and charities have a range of legal responsibilities that they must fulfill before engaging in activity within the community. Soliciting donations and fundraising is often one of the most important aspects of charitable organizations and nonprofits. If an organization fails to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth in Missouri law before raising funds for their mission, there may be serious legal penalties.

Registration is one of these key obligations. At Copilevitz, Lam & Raney, we provide legal guidance to nonprofits and charities, ensuring that they are operating in adherence to Missouri law. As the largest provider of state charitable fundraising registration services, we help organizations avoid unexpected legal consequences and allow charities to continue benefiting Missouri communities. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting our Kansas City office at 816-472-9000 today.

What Is a Charitable Organization?

In the state of Missouri, any entity that conducts business or holds property for philanthropic reasons or for the social wellbeing of a population is considered a charitable organization. Charitable organizations aim to advance a certain public benefit, such as scientific education, poverty reduction, diversity, or environmental sustainability, to name a few. In general, charitable organizations engage in the activity of fundraising in order to further their mission.

Do Charitable Organizations Need to Register to Solicit Donations and Fundraise?

Yes, many charitable organizations are required to register before soliciting donations in Missouri. Charitable fundraising registration is an essential part of setting up your organization to legally receive donations. According to Missouri Revised Statutes § 407.456, charitable organizations are not allowed to solicit funds until they have filed the correct registration and reports with the state.

What Does it Mean to Solicit Donations and Fundraise?

Missouri law defines solicitation as any effort to obtain funds, property, or financial assistance. It also includes endeavors to seek other things of value, such as the promise or grant of money or property for a charitable purpose. The following, however, are not considered solicitation in the state of Missouri:

  • Unsolicited contributions from a donor, trust, or other source, unless these contributions are received in association with a fundraising effort.
  • Direct grants or the allocation of funds made on behalf of a member agency.

An experienced attorney can provide further insight into the exact definition of solicitation according to Missouri law. Often, it can be helpful to register for fundraising regardless of how you secure donations for your organization. Erring on the side of caution can help avoid potential issues down the road.

What Happens If I Do Not Register My Charitable Organization?

If you are found fundraising without registering your charitable organization, you may be found guilty of fraud. The penalties associated with fraud in the state of Missouri are often severe, since each solicitation of funds counts as a separate violation of the law. The consequences for not registering your charitable organization range from a fine of $1,000 to an outright ban on soliciting funds. For this reason, it is important to fully understand the legal requirements involved in fundraising before soliciting donations for your organization.

What Organizations Are Exempt from Charitable Fundraising Registration?

Some organizations are exempt from charitable fundraising registration, including the following:

  • Religious organizations. Section 407.453(5) of the Revised States of Missouri defines a religious organization as one that meets regularly for worship or an entity that is owned, operated, or supported through sharing of religious convictions.
  • Educational institutions and their foundations. Legally, an educational institution is one that conducts classes regularly and has a defined curriculum, student body, and faculty.
  • Organizations that solely receive donations from their members
  • Hospitals and auxiliaries, so long as they do not have a professional, hired fundraiser
  • Tax-exempt 501c3, 501c7 and 501c8 organizations

While these organizations may have been founded for charitable purposes, they are not required to register before fundraising in the state of Missouri.

How Do I Register My Charitable Organization?

Charitable fundraising registration is done through the Attorney General’s Office using the Charitable Organization Initial Registration Statement. This four page form requires a breadth of information about your organization, including how you plan to solicit funds for your charitable purpose and the names of any paid fundraisers within your organization.

You will also be required to include select financial information such as the name of your bank and the beginning and end date of your fiscal year. Once this form is thoroughly completed, you may submit it via mail to the Attorney General’s Office along with the $15 registration fee. It will take roughly one week to process your registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

At Copilevitz, Lam & Raney, we provide comprehensive guidance to current and prospective clients regarding how to register their charity for fundraising and the legal requirements that must be met before an organization can solicit donations. Some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive include the following.

My Charitable Organization Is Not Located Within Missouri, But We Solicit Donations There. Do I Need to Register?

There is often confusion surrounding interstate operations and whether an organization located outside of Missouri is still required to register if they will be soliciting donations in the state. This is particularly true in Kansas City, where Kansas-based charitable organizations often conduct their activities across state lines. If your charitable organization plans to solicit donations in Missouri, you must register for charitable fundraising in the state.

If My Organization Is Registered in Missouri, Am I Required to Register in Another State?

If your organization is registered in Missouri but you plan to solicit donations in other states, you will be required to register within those states. A select few states do not require registration, but most do. Failing to fulfill charitable fundraising registration requirements in other states can have significant consequences, so it can be beneficial to speak with an experienced attorney about your legal obligations.

Registering Your Charity with Copilevitz, Lam & Raney

Oftentimes, the individuals working within a charity are busy ensuring that their charitable organization is operating smoothly and that their communities are being supported. For this reason, it is common to overlook the necessary legal requirements that one must fulfill before operating their charitable organization. At Copilevitz, Lam & Raney, we work closely with charities to register their charitable organization for fundraising and avoid serious legal penalties. To register your charitable organization and begin soliciting donations, consider contacting our attorneys at 816-472-9000 today.

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