Navigating State Registrations to Solicit Donations

A jumbled pile of dollar bills.

If your nonprofit intends to solicit donations from residents of your state, you need to know about the fundraising registration process. Read on to find out who needs to register, how to register, and what might happen if you don't register properly.

Do I need to register with the state?

Most states require nonprofits to register with the state before they can solicit donations in that state. So, with the exception of a handful of states, if you are raising funds you need to register your nonprofit.

Additionally some states provide exemptions for certain nonprofits for various reasons such as nature of the nonprofit, total revenue, etc. If you’re unsure if you need to register, it’s best to check with state officials.

How do I register?

In general, registration consists of completing an initial form and sending it in to the appropriate agency along with the nonprofit’s financial documents, and possibly supporting company documents (such as your IRS determination letter) and payment of a fee. However, each state has its own rules which can make registration in multiple states tricky.

A helpful resource when registering your nonprofit is the Unified Registration Statement (URS) which is a document that summarizes requirements for each state as well as provides a registration document which is accepted by all but three states that require registration. The URS provides a master checklist of requirements by state, links to state specific documents as well as contact information for each state. It’s a great organizational tool to use when managing registration in multiple states.

What if I don’t register?

Failure to register can result in additional fees, some pretty hefty. It’s best to stay on top of your registration.

When do I need to register?

Registration must be completed before solicitation begins. Once initial registration is complete states vary on renewal. Some require a renewal after one year and others only require one time registration. In addition to registration, most states also require separate financial reporting which is generally due annually.

For more information visit the website of the Multi-State Filer Project at