Posted on December 14, 2023
Florida Charitable Solicitation Registration: How To Register or Renew Your Nonprofit
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Fundraising is critical for nonprofit organizations. It’s the lifeline that supports your cause and ensures your sustainability. However, in most states, nonprofits are required to register before they can legally solicit donations, and navigating the legal labyrinth of state-specific fundraising registration requirements can be demanding.
Florida is one of the 41 states that requires registration. So, if you’re new to charitable registration or would like information on how to achieve and maintain fundraising compliance in the Sunshine State, Affinity Fundraising Registration has prepared this guide to help you carry out the process efficiently and effectively. For more information or to learn how Affinity Fundraising Registration can help you achieve and maintain compliance please contact us.
Before you begin to delve into Florida’s requirements for fundraising registration, you’ll first want to determine if you meet one of the following exemptions. If your organization received fewer than $50,000 in contributions from nationwide sources, then you will be statutorily exempt. Also, if your organization is classified as a religious, educational, or membership-based organization, you may be exempt from registering.
Keep in mind that these are broad terms for which there could be additional stipulations. For instance, filing a Form 990 disqualifies religious organizations from exemption, however, educational organizations are treated differently. Although they are statutorily exempt upon filing a 990, educational organizations soliciting charitable gift annuities in the state of Florida will be disqualified from exemption and required to register. Meanwhile, membership-based organizations are only exempt if they exclusively solicit to their members, and you must apply for the exemption annually.
If your organization falls under one of the categories listed above and you want to gain exemption, you’ll need to request such consideration via an email to the state to assert your exemption, although the state may not reply.
Initial Registration Requirements
All charitable organizations intending to solicit donations within the state of Florida need to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Division of Consumer Services, as mandated by the Florida Solicitation of Contributions Act (Chapter 496, Florida Statutes). Before registration, it is essential to have federal tax-exempt status verified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and at least 3 board members. Once this status is confirmed, a nonprofit can proceed with Florida’s fundraising registration process.
The first step is to gather your documentation. Then, choose between downloading the registration application, or creating an online account with the FDACS to register online.
For initial registration, you’ll need the following materials:
- Completed registration application signed by an officer of the organization (such as chairman of the board, president of the corporation, or executive director)
- IRS Determination Letter
- Signed form 990
- Audit (Only necessary if you receive more than $1 million in contributions)
- CPA Review (Only necessary if you receive more than $500,000 in contributions)
- List of board members
- List of professional fundraisers or fundraising counsel, and a copy of the contracts (Only necessary if they’re active in FL)
- List of FL coventures, and those contracts
The final step in submitting your registration is to pay the fee. Initial and renewal fees follow the same scale:
|Contributions + Program Revenue + Net Sales
Upon submission, the state will send a letter confirming the registration was approved. There is an additional late fee of $25 per month as soon as a renewal is one day past due.
Renewing Your Florida Nonprofit Fundraising Registration
Renewal includes submitting a renewal packet along with the same supporting documentation supplied in the initial registration, including your 990, state-specific board member list, and information on any professional contracts. This documentation must be sent along with your renewal registration fee. Renewals can be done through the mail or filed online.
The FDACS will send either an approval letter or a deficiency letter upon processing of the renewal packet. If approved, no action is necessary until the following year. If a deficiency letter is sent, they will explain what is needed along with a timeline to respond.
Your annual renewal deadline will be based on your initial anniversary date—not your organization’s fiscal year end. Therefore, it’s worth noting that you may want to think twice about when to complete your initial filing, and likely avoid doing so in January, since you’ll be forever tied to that date moving forward. While it may not be an issue for some, for others, the first part of the calendar year is a particularly busy time and may have limited financial data availability when this FL renewal due date arrives, even with extensions.
Late Submissions and Extensions
The renewal packet and supporting documents must be completed and sent to the Florida office prior to the renewal deadline. If your renewal packet is not sent prior to the due date fines will be applied, which can include a $500 fine, on top of the $25 monthly late fee mentioned above. Approval letters will be sent by the state that will include a tentative registration renewal date.
A 180-day extension will be granted, but it only applies to the financial report (990 and audit). Fines will be assessed if the financials are not received by the deadline. In order to have your application and extension processed, you must also submit a fee. However, fees are based on your financials and if your financial report is not yet complete, you should plan to submit the same fee as the previous filing. Upon receipt, the FDACS will send a letter confirming the application has been approved along with a letter granting an extension on the financials.
Whether it’s because a nonprofit is changing their focus or being more strategic about where they register, there may come a time when they no longer solicit funds in a particular state and need to withdraw registration.
To withdraw a registration in Florida, you must submit a letter or email requesting your registration be withdrawn. In your letter, you should also include the date your solicitations ceased. Be advised that you will have to put a disclaimer on any media forms and on any websites with a “donate now” button. The disclaimer shall state that contributions of any kind from the state of Florida are not accepted.
Get Help With the Florida Fundraising Registration Process
Navigating the realm of fundraising registration can be complex, but it is a crucial step toward legal and successful fundraising. At Affinity Fundraising Registration, we provide a variety of customized services designed to guide you through the registration process – whether you’re registering in one state, or all of them.
At Affinity Fundraising Registration, we offer multiple levels of registration compliance services. Our web-based portal can simplify and streamline the self-filing process. Or, if you’re looking for a comprehensive solution, our Full Support and Full Support Plus services can take the entire burden of filing, renewals, and more off of your plate. Visit our website to learn more about our fundraising registration support services or contact us to request an estimate.
The information provided on this page is intended purely for educational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information up until the published date. However, laws related to fundraising registration are subject to change, and variations may occur between states. Furthermore, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws can often be complex, and the specifics of your situation can impact how the law applies.
Affinity Fundraising Registration is not a law firm and, as such, cannot provide legal opinions. For all specific legal questions or concerns, we strongly recommend consulting with a qualified attorney who is experienced in nonprofit law and compliance. Hiring a legal professional ensures that your organization is fully aware of its obligations under the law and can act accordingly to remain compliant.
By using this site, you acknowledge that Affinity Fundraising Registration holds no liability for any consequences, legal or otherwise, resulting from actions taken based on the information provided on this page.