ALERT: PROFESSIONAL FUNDRAISER ANNUAL REGISTRATION STATEMENT DEADLINE CHANGES IN LIGHT OF COVID-19
Due to potential disruptions to the AGO’s operations in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the AGO will not enforce until November 16, 2020 the deadline for professional fundraisers to file registration statements that are currently due on April 30, 2020 under Minn. Stat. § 309.531. The follow terms apply:
- No enforcement action will be taken solely on the basis that a PFR registration statement is filed after the statutory April 30 deadline, so long as it is filed before November 16, 2020.
- No late fees will be assessed solely on the basis that a PFR registration statement is filed after the statutory April 30 deadline, so long as it is filed before November 16, 2020.
- You are encouraged to file toward the end of the November 16, 2020 time period to increase the AGO’s ability to process your filings in a timely manner.
- You are encouraged to file electronically to increase the AGO’s ability to process your filings in a timely manner.
- All other deadlines and obligations remain the same.
Registration and Reporting -
Minnesota law prohibits any person or entity from acting as a professional fundraiser unless registered with the Attorney General’s Office. Professional fundraisers must also periodically file certain reports and other documents with the Attorney General’s Office regarding their operations and activities. The Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act, Minn. Stat. ch. 309, governs registration and reporting by professional fundraisers. While the below information provides a summary of these requirements, the Act controls and should be carefully reviewed to ensure that any person acting as a professional fundraiser is complying with its terms. Professional fundraisers can also consult A Guide to Minnesota’s Charities Laws for more information.
Who is Considered a “Professional Fundraiser”
A professional fundraiser is any person who, for compensation or profit, performs for a charitable organization any service in connection with which contributions are, or will be, solicited. This includes any person who plans, manages, advises, consults, or prepares material for or with respect to the solicitation of contributions. Minn. Stat. § 309.50, subd. 6.
Solicitor vs. Consultant. Professional fundraisers are treated differently depending on whether they are involved in soliciting contributions or only consult or assist a charity without soliciting. Soliciting professional fundraisers are those who request, either directly or indirectly, a contribution to the charity. The terms “solicit” and “solicitation” are very broadly defined under Minnesota law. They include not only written and verbal requests for contributions, but also advertising for charitable events and the sale of goods or services that benefit a charity (among other things). See Minn. Stat. § 309.50, subd. 10. A consulting professional fundraiser is not involved in soliciting contributions in any manner. A consulting professional fundraiser instead, for example, advises the charity on how to run its own solicitation campaign or prepares materials that the charity will use to solicit on its own.
Requirements for All Professional Fundraisers
Annual Registration. All professional fundraisers must register with the Attorney General’s Office. To register, professional fundraisers must submit a registration statement under oath and pay a $200 fee. If the fundraiser will have access to or custody of contributions, it must also submit a $20,000 surety bond. The registration statement and surety bond (if applicable) must be submitted annually, as these documents expire on April 30 each year. A $300 late fee may be assessed if the materials are submitted after the April 30 due date, are incomplete, or are otherwise noncompliant. As part of registering, a professional fundraiser must enter into and file copies of all contracts (including any exhibits, schedules, and attachments) with each charity with which it has a relationship. If a professional fundraiser enters into a contract with a charity after registering, it must promptly submit a copy of the contract to the Attorney General’s Office. The required registration forms can be downloaded using the below links:
Additional Requirements for Soliciting Professional Fundraisers
Professional fundraisers that are involved in soliciting contributions in Minnesota must—in addition to registering annually as described above—also submit a “Solicitation Notice” and a “Solicitation Campaign Financial Report” for each solicitation campaign they conduct on behalf of a charity.
Solicitation Notice. Soliciting professional fundraisers should submit a Solicitation Notice prior to beginning solicitation activities for the charity. The professional fundraiser’s contract with the charity should accompany every Solicitation Notice. Unlike contracts between consulting professional fundraisers and charities, a contract between a soliciting professional fundraiser and a charity must disclose the percentage or a reasonable estimate of the percentage of the total amount solicited to be received by the charity. The charity for which the professional fundraiser is soliciting must provide written authorization from two officers of the charity authorizing the professional fundraiser to act on its behalf. The charity also must certify that the Solicitation Notice and accompanying materials are true and complete. This Solicitation Notice can be downloaded using the below link:
Solicitation Campaign Financial Reports. Soliciting professional fundraisers must file Solicitation Campaign Financial Reports no later than 90 days after the completion of a solicitation campaign or 90 days after the anniversary of a campaign lasting more than a year. A $300 late fee may be assessed if a report is submitted after the due date, is incomplete, or is otherwise noncompliant. The required Solicitation Campaign Financial Report can be downloaded using the below link:
A professional fundraiser’s Solicitation Notice, Solicitation Campaign Financial Reports, and related materials must be complete and accurate. Professional fundraisers that fail to properly register or fail to provide complete and accurate information to the Attorney General’s Office may be in violation of Minnesota law.
How to Register and Report
Electronic Filing of Documents. Professional fundraisers may register and make all required filings by email. Professional fundraisers 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 professional fundraiser’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. Professional fundraisers 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 professional fundraisers 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 professional fundraisers who choose to pay required fees electronically.
Submissions/Payments by Mail. If professional fundraisers 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
Professional fundraisers 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 professional fundraisers that are currently registered in Minnesota by using the Attorney General’s Office’s Search for Professional Fundraisers tool. Be aware, however, that just because a professional fundraiser is registered does not mean the Attorney General’s Office has approved of its practices or other conduct.
Use the links below to download forms and learn more about the Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act:
Professional Fundraiser Registration Statement
Professional Fundraiser Bond
Professional Fundraiser Bond Continuation Certificate
Professional Fundraiser Solicitation Notice
Professional Fundraiser Solicitation Campaign Financial Report
Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act