Frequently Asked Questions for Registering Commercial Fundraisers

What is a commercial fundraiser?
What is a fundraising counsel?
What is a commercial coventurer?
What is a subcontractor or subcontracting commercial fundraiser?
What are the registration requirements concerning subcontractors?
Is a copy of the laws and regulations available online?
Are registration forms available online?
Why isn’t the renewal form available online?
Why is registration required?
Do all states require a registration?
Where is your office located?
Is Olympia the only office where I can file my application?

Q: What is a commercial fundraiser?

A: A "commercial fundraiser" is defined as "any entity that for compensation or other consideration within this state directly or indirectly solicits or receives contributions for or on behalf of any charitable organization or charitable purpose, or that is engaged in the business of or is held out to persons in this state as independently engaged in the business of soliciting or receiving contributions for such purposes."

A "solicitation" is defined as "any oral or written request for a contribution, including the solicitor's offer or attempt to sell any property, rights, services, or other thing in connection with which:

(a) Any appeal is made for any charitable purpose; or
(b) The name of any charitable organization is used as an inducement for consummating the sale; or
(c) Any statement is made that implies that the whole or any part of the proceeds from the sale will be applied toward any charitable purpose or donated to any charitable organization.
The solicitation shall be deemed completed when made, whether or not the person making it receives any contribution or makes any sale."

A commercial fundraiser is considered to solicit or receive contributions from the public directly if they are solicited or received by the fundraiser or by any officer, employee, principal, or shareholder of the commercial fundraiser, including immediate family members. Contributions are solicited or received indirectly if they are solicited or received by:

(a) Any organization owned or controlled by the commercial fundraiser or owned or controlled by any officer, employee, principal, or shareholder of the commercial fundraiser, including immediate family members; or
(b) Any person or organization, other than the charitable organization for which funds are solicited, with which the commercial fundraiser has a contractual relationship governing the solicitation or receipt of contributions. Solicitations shall be deemed received by the fundraiser if they are deposited into bank accounts wholly or partially owned or controlled by the commercial fundraiser or other entity with which the commercial fundraiser maintains a contractual relationship.

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Q: What is a fundraising counsel?

A: A fundraising consultant or fundraising counsel is "any entity that provides fundraising advice or consultation to a charitable organization within this state but neither directly nor indirectly solicits or receives any contribution for or on behalf of any such charitable organization."

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Q: What is a commercial coventurer?

A: A for profit company that is regularly engaged in making sales of goods or services directly to the public and represents a portion will be donated to a charitable organization.

 

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Q: What is a subcontractor or subcontracting commercial fundraiser?

A: A "subcontractor" or "subcontracting commercial fundraiser" is any entity that is compensated for assuming some or all of a primary contractor’s obligations as set forth in the primary contractor’s written contract with a charitable organization, specifically in regards to the solicitation or receipt of contributions.

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Q: What are the registration requirements concerning subcontractors?

A: A commercial fundraiser (primary contractor) who engages another commercial fundraiser (subcontractor) to conduct solicitations on behalf of one or more charitable organizations is responsible for reporting and shall include the total contributions and the total expenses related to that campaign in its own solicitation report. If a reporting commercial fundraiser’s contributions and expenses for a campaign are also included in another commercial fundraiser’s solicitation report, the reporting commercial fundraiser shall list in its report the name of the fundraiser, the name of the charitable organization(s), the date(s) of the campaign(s), and the total contributions and expenses for which it was responsible.

Regardless of whether a commercial fundraiser which acts as a contractor reports the contributions and expenses of its subcontractor(s), each subcontracting commercial fundraiser must independently register, post a surety bond, report its own contributions and expenses, and comply with all other provisions of RCW 19.09 and WAC 434-120 as they apply to commercial fundraisers.

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Q: Is a copy of the laws and regulations regarding fundraising in Washington available online?

A: Yes. The Charitable Solicitations Act, RCW 19.09 and the Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 434-120 is available online at http://www.sos.wa.gov/charities/laws.aspx

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Q: Are registration forms available online?

A: Yes. Registration forms are available and may be accessed by visiting the Charities Web page at http://www.sos.wa.gov/charities/forms.aspx . Online registration is not available; the forms must be downloaded and printed. Filing fees, required disclosures and other requirements are also available online.

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Q: Why isn’t the renewal application available online?

A: The renewal forms are not available online because certain sections of the renewal application are pre-filled with existing registration information that is extracted directly from the Charities database. The renewal notices are generated from the system approximately 60 days prior to the organization’s renewal due date. Organizations may obtain a renewal form at any time by contacting the Charities Program directly.

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Q: Why is registration required?

A: Both the benefiting charities as well as the independent entities paid to solicit funds must, in most cases, provide financial and other information about their activities. The information is available so the consumer can learn more about how their donation will be spent by the soliciting organization, before making a contribution.

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Q: Do all states require a registration?

A: Most states have some type of registration or filing process. It is necessary for organizations contemplating fundraising activities in other states to research the individual state reporting requirements to ensure compliance prior to soliciting.

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Q: Where is your office located?

A: The Charities Program is located in the Dolliver Building, 801 Capitol Way South, Olympia, WA 98501. Business hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays.

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Q: Is Olympia the only office where I can file my application?

A: Yes. We do not have any branch offices in Washington State. You can visit our Olympia office or submit your application by mail.

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Disclaimer: This FAQ page should not be considered a substitute for professional or legal advice. We encourage you to seek private legal counsel, or a CPA or an accountant if you require additional assistance.