Registration and Reporting - Charities and Charitable Trusts
Most charitable organizations that solicit donations or have significant charitable assets must register and, thereafter, file an annual report and certain other documents with the with the Attorney General’s Office. The registry of charities consists of two types of organizations—soliciting charities and charitable trusts. The Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 309, governs the activities of soliciting charities. The Minnesota Supervision of Charitable Trusts and Trustees Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 501B, governs the activities of charitable trusts. While the below information provides a summary of the registration and reporting requirements for soliciting charities and charitable trusts, these Acts control and should be carefully reviewed to ensure that soliciting charities and charitable trusts are complying with their terms. You can also consult A Guide to Minnesota’s Charities Laws for more information.
Soliciting Charity Registration and Reporting
Registration. Unless exempt, soliciting charities must register if they meet any of the following conditions: (1) The charity receives or plans to receive more than $25,000 in total donations during its accounting year, or (2) the charity’s functions and activities, including fundraising, are not performed wholly by volunteers, or (3) the charity utilizes a professional fundraiser. See Minn. Stat. §§ 309.515, .52. Soliciting charities must pay a $25 fee, complete a registration form (see below), and file certain documents with the Attorney General’s Office when they register. A charity must file a copy of any contract it has entered into with a professional fundraiser when registering. If a charity enters into a contract with a professional fundraiser after registering, it must file a copy of the contract within seven days. Minn. Stat. § 309.52.
Annual Reporting. Every soliciting charity must annually submit a report on its operations and activities. Charities that file IRS Form 990 should attach it to their annual report. Charities that file a shortened version of Form 990 (e.g., Form 990-EZ, 990-PF, or 990-N) must complete the financial statement portion of the annual report. A charity’s Form 990 or financial statement (whichever is applicable) must be complete, accurate, and GAAP compliant. The report must be executed pursuant to a resolution of the board of directors and must be signed by two officers. The deadline for filing an annual report is July 15 of each year if the charity’s books are kept on a calendar year basis, or the 15th day of the seventh month following the close of the charity’s fiscal year if its books are kept on a fiscal year basis. The charity must pay a $25 fee with filing its annual report, and a $50 late fee if the complete report is not filed by the deadline. Minn. Stat. § 309.53.
Forms for Registration and Reporting. To register, a soliciting charity must submit an Initial Registration form, including all of the documents that must be attached to the form. Every year after registering, a charity must submit an Annual Report, including all of the documents that must be attached to the report. These documents can be downloaded using the below links:
The Attorney General’s Office also accepts the Unified Registration Statement (“URS”), which some charities that must register and report in multiple jurisdictions prefer to file. If a charity chooses to submit a URS, it must also submit the Minnesota supplement to the form. The Minnesota supplements to the URS can be downloaded using the below links:
Exemptions from Registration and Reporting. Some soliciting charities are exempt from registration, including certain kinds of educational and religious organizations. Charities should review Minnesota Statutes section 309.515 for a full list of exemptions from registration. If a charity believes that it is not required to register with the Attorney General’s Office, it should notify the Office and submit an exemption form, which can be downloaded using the below link:
Charitable Trust Registration and Reporting
Registration and Reporting. A charitable organization must register with the Attorney General’s Office as a charitable trust if it has assets of more than $25,000 at any point in time during the year and is not required to register as a soliciting charity. See Minn. Stat. § 501B.36. To register, the organization must submit an initial registration form, the organization’s articles of incorporation or the document creating the trust, and IRS Form 990 or a financial statement. Every year after registering, a charitable trust must file an annual report, and attach IRS Form 990 or a financial statement. The annual report must be filed by the 15th day of the fifth month following the close of the organization’s taxable year. A charitable trust must pay a $25 fee when registering and with each annual report. These registration and reporting documents can be downloaded using the below links:
Exemptions from Registration and Reporting. Not all charities are required to register with the Attorney General’s Office as charitable trusts. An organization that has registered as a soliciting charity does not also need to register as a charitable trust. Certain religious organizations and trusts administered by a government agency, for example, are also exempt from registration as a charitable trust. Organizations that are not required to register as a soliciting charity should review Minn. Stat. § 501B.36 for a full list of charitable trust registration exemptions. If an organization believes that it is not required to register as a charitable trust, it should notify the Attorney General’s Office and submit an exemption form, which can be downloaded using the below link:
How To Register and Report
Electronic Filing of Documents. Charities may register and make all required filings by email. Organizations may submit required materials to the Attorney General’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. All materials submitted via email must be in PDF format and the subject line of the email must contain the organization’s legal name. Emails not following these requirements may not be properly processed, which could result in noncompliant registration and reporting.
Electronic Payment of Fees. Charities may pay all required fees, including any late fees, electronically using the Attorney General’s Office’s Electronic Payment of Fees webpage. This electronic payment system has a self-directed, step-by-step process allowing charities to pay fees via credit or debit card through a dedicated webpage operated by U.S. Bank. Please note there is a nonrefundable processing fee charged by U.S. Bank for organizations that choose to pay required fees electronically.
Submissions/Payments by Mail. If charities prefer, they may submit required materials by mail and pay required fees by check. Checks should be made payable to the “State of Minnesota.” Required documents and payments should be mailed to the following address:
Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1200
St. Paul, MN 55101
Charities may contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office at (651) 757-1496 or (800) 657-3787 with any questions about registration and reporting.
Anyone may search for charitable organizations and charitable trusts that are currently registered in Minnesota by using the Attorney General’s Office’s Search for Charities tool. Be aware, however, that just because a charity is registered does not necessarily mean it is worthy of your generosity. Before contributing to any charity, donors should do enough research to assure themselves that the charity will use their donation to fulfill its charitable mission.
Use the links below to download forms and learn more about the Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act and the Supervision of Charitable Trusts and Trustees Act:
Charitable Organization - Initial Registration
Charitable Organization - Annual Report
Minnesota Supplement to Unified Registrations - Initial Registration
Minnesota Supplement to Unified Registrations - Annual Reporting
Charitable Organization – Exemption Form
Charitable Trust – Initial Registration Form
Charitable Trust – Annual Report
Charitable Trust – Exemption Form
Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act
Minnesota Supervision of Charitable Trusts and Trustees Act
More resources are available from the following organizations: