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Modernizing Charitable Fundraising Regulation


When a public charity solicits a specific number of donations within a state, it is usually required to register in that state and make public disclosures that allow government officials to confirm that the public charity is legitimate. However, public charities currently face wide variance from state to state with respect to the activity thresholds that trigger charitable solicitation registration. This variance significantly increases the compliance burden placed on under-resourced public charities seeking to conduct an online fundraising campaign. In the current regulatory environment, public charities must spend precious employee time on compliance tasks, as well as valuable organizational funding on attorney and accountant fees, to remain compliant across the states.

To solve this problem, this Article argues that the states should universally adopt a set of clear and consistent charitable solicitation registration standards. Additionally, this Article argues for the adoption of a new Unified Registration Statement, which would allow public charities to register to solicit donations in all states, using one form, one payment, and one online portal. By making these simple changes to the way the states regulate public charities, our society can better encourage mission-driven founders to launch public charities that will impact the lives of those in need, without impeding an individual state’s ability to protect donors from fraudulent fundraising campaigns.