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This directory offers a starting point for individuals seeking assistance in establishing, operating and managing nonprofit charitable organizations. This is an informational resource only, which provides contact information for government agencies, low-cost legal services and technical assistance. Listing here is not an endorsement of the organization or its web content.

Links to topics below


Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
(877) 829-5500

Oversees federal tax-exempt status of charitable organizations and provides a range of resources to assist charities, private foundations and other nonprofit organizations with federal reporting compliance.

California Franchise Tax Board (FTB)
(916) 845-4171

Oversees state tax-exempt status of charitable organizations in California and compliance with state tax reporting requirements.

California Secretary of State
(916) 653-8814
Name Availability Unit
(916) 657-5448

Charities seeking to operate in California must file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State and a current list of board officers.

Recorded information on how to obtain a name for nonprofit corporations.

California Attorney General
(916) 322-3360 or 1-800-952-5225

Registry of Charitable Trusts
P.O. Box 903447
Sacramento, CA 94203-4470

Charitable Trusts Section - Los Angeles
300 South Spring Street, Room 1702
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Charitable Trusts Section - San Francisco
455 Golden Gate Ave., Suite 11000
San Francisco, CA 94102-7004

Charities operating in California must register and file annual financial reports with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts. The Attorney General's Charities website offers resources to help charities with registration and reporting compliance. Compliance and enforcement are handled by the Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Section.

Cities and counties may have local ordinances to protect consumers against fraudulent solicitations. Charities should check on local requirements that may require charities and charitable fundraisers to register, certify their tax-exempt status, obtain a license to solicit and file accountings of fundraising proceeds. Available at the above link is a current listing of more than 200 licensing offices in cities and counties that have ordinances affecting charities and charitable fundraisers. This list is compiled by the Continuing Education of the Bar, and is included in its 2-volume publication, Advising California Nonprofit Corporations.

California Board of Equalization
(800) 400-7115

Administers state tax assessment policies in four general areas: sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes and the tax appellate program.

California Employment Development Department
(888) 745-3886

Provides labor market data for the state and by county.

Federal Trade Commission

Information for donors about charities.

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Charitable Solicitation & Fundraising

BBB Wise Giving Alliance
The Council of Better Business Bureaus
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203-1804
(800) 575-GIVE

Information for donors about charities.

American Institute of Philanthropy
3450 North Lake Shore Dr., Suite 2802E
P.O. Box 578460
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 529-2300

Information for donors about charities.


Provides searchable database of charities nationwide and information for donors about charitable organizations.

Charity Navigator

Information for donors about charities.

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Legal Aid Societies

Local chapters in many counties may provide low cost legal services to qualifying organizations. Usually at least three main factors are considered to determine if the organization qualifies for low cost legal aid: (1) the income level of members or targeted service beneficiaries (Is income below the federal poverty level?); (2) the assets of the members (Are they relatively low?); and (3) and the type of services provided by the organization.

Insight Center for Community Economic Development
2201 Broadway, Suite 815
Oakland, CA 94812
(510) 251-0600

If a charitable organization is organized primarily to serve economic development projects, the Center may be able to assist it with legal services. The Center is funded by various government and private sources and provides assistance to eligible legal-services programs, their client community-based organizations, and attorneys in private practice who provide pro bono legal services to eligible client organizationsto .

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
131 Steuart St., Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 543-9444

Serves organizations that provide assistance to low-income persons.

The Bar Associate of San Francisco
Lawyer Referral & Information Service
301 Battery Street, Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 989-1616

The Lawyer Referral & Information Service provides free legal aid to low-income and disadvantaged persons.

California Lawyers for the Arts
Fort Mason Center Bldg. C, Rm. 255
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 775-7200

California Lawyers for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides arts organizations and artists of all disciplines with a wide range of legal services at fees that are affordable.

Bet Tzedek
3250 Wilshire Blvd., 13th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(323) 939-0506

Nonprofit organization provides free assistance to more than 100,000 families of every racial and religious background in the Los Angeles area.

San Diego County Bar Association
Lawyer Referral and Information Service
401 West A Street, Ste. 1100
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-8585

Same eligibility requirements as Legal Aid Societies. Services are limited only to organizational and operational problems of charitable groups. Needs will be assessed and referral to other services provided.

Public Law Center
Community Organization Assistance Project
601 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 541-1010


Free legal services available to community-based nonprofit organizations serving Orange County’s low-income population, through volunteer attorneys, including nonprofit incorporation and corporate governance.

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Management & Operations Assistance

Center for Nonprofit Management
1000 N. Alameda Street, Suite 250
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-7159

The center helps nonprofit organizations through training to develop leadership and management skills, address staff recruitment and retention issues, cope with organizational changes and promote collaboration and communication.

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services
500 12th Street, Suite 320
Oakland, CA 94607
(415) 541-9000

CompassPoint provides a broad array of training, consulting, research, management tools, concepts and strategies to help nonprofit organizations increase their effectiveness and the impact of people working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector.

California Association of Nonprofits
180 Howard St., Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94105
(800) 776-4226

The California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits) is a statewide membership organization that brings nonprofits together to advocate for the communities they serve.

National Council for Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits is a network of state and regional associations helping small and mid-sized nonprofits manage and lead more effectively; collaborate and exchange solutions; save money through group buying opportunities; engage in critical policy issues affecting the sector; and achieve greater impact in their communities.

Independent Sector

Independent Sector is a leadership network for charities, foundations and corporate giving programs.


BoardSource provides guidance on what constitutes good governance and offers educational programs, publications and web-based resources for nonprofits of all sizes and mission types.

National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS)

The Center is the national clearinghouse of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States.

The Foundation Center
312 Sutter Street, Suite 606
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 397-0902

The Center maintains a comprehensive database on U.S. and global grantmakers and their grants, and operates research, education and training programs. The Center's library includes a collection of books and other resources on the topics of grants, fundraising techniques, and corporate philanthropy, and an on-line directory of foundation funders. The library is open to the public free of charge.

California Community Foundation
445 South Figueroa Street, Suite 3400
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 413-4130

The Foundation offers grants that assist with core operating and project support, as well as fellowships, and offers trainings and workshops to the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles.

The Grantsmanship Center
350 South Bixel St., Suite 110
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 482-9860

Training by the Center covers all aspects of researching grants, writing grant proposals and negotiating with funding sources.

Clearinghouse for Volunteer Accounting Services
920 Hampshire Road, Suite A-29
Westlake Village, CA 91361
(805) 495-6755

Organization provides assistance to small nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, including technical assistance on tax filing reports, financial reports, budget and cash-flow projections, internal control systems-data base management and installation to evaluation and revision of accounting systems. Clearinghouse will review audits or assist in placing a volunteer accountant on the charity's board of directors.

Northern California Grantmakers
625 Market Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 777-4111

Nonprofit membership association of foundations, corporate contributions programs and other private grant-makers. Offers information on California foundations and philanthropy, and the wider nonprofit sector.

Southern California Grantmakers
1000 North Alameda Street, Suite 230
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-8866

Nonprofit membership association of private-sector grant makers serving Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Offers programs on a wide range of issues that have included best practices, accountability, grant administration and grantee relations.

Multi-State Filer Project
1612 K Street NW, Suite 510
Washington, D.C. 20006-2802
(202) 463-7980

The Multi-State Filer Project provides a Unified Registration Statement that consolidates the information and data requirements of all states that require registration of nonprofit organizations performing charitable solicitations within their jurisdictions. The effort is organized by the National Association of State Charities Officials and the National Association of Attorneys General, and is one part of the Standardized Reporting Project, whose aim is to standardize, simplify, and economize compliance under the states' solicitation laws.

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Forming Nonprofit Organizations / Obtaining Tax-exempt Status

  • Caftel, Forming a Nonprofit, Tax-Exempt Charitable Corporation (National Economic Development and Law Center)
  • Connors, The Nonprofit Handbook - Management (Wiley 2000)
  • Mancuso, California Nonprofit Corporation Kit, 3rd ed. (Nolo Press 2001) Publication includes forms and step-by-step checklist for creating a tax-exempt organization.
  • Mancuso, How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation in California, 9th ed. (Nolo Press 2000)
  • Edie, First Steps in Starting a Foundation, 5th ed. (Council on Foundations, Washington, D.C. 2002).

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Fundraising, Budget & Accounting Issues

  • Gross, Practical Guides on Fundraising, Budget, and Accounting Concerns
  • Financial and Accounting Guide for Not-for-Profit Organizations, 6th ed. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2000)
  • Seltzer, Securing your Organization's Future: A Complete Guide to Fundraising Strategies, Rev.ed. (The Foundation Center, San Francisco, CA 2001)

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Grant-Making Foundations

  • The Foundation Directory (Annual) (Foundation Center)
  • Foundation Finder (Updated Monthly) (Foundation Center)
  • Nielsen,The Golden Donors: A New Anatomy of the Great Foundations (Transaction Publishers 2002)

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Legal Issues

  • Legal Treatises: Advising California Nonprofit Corporations, 2nd ed. (Continuing Education of the Bar 2003)
  • Legal Treatises: Ballantine & Sterling, California Corporation Law Vol. III Charitable Trusts (LexisNexis 2003)
  • Legal Treatises: Fisch, Freed & Schacter, Charities and Charitable Foundations, Supp. 1990-91 (Lond Pub., 1974)
  • Legal Treatises: Hopkins, The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, 8th ed. (John Wiley & Sons 2003)
  • Legal Treatises: Oleck,Nonprofit Corporations, Organizations and Associations, 6th ed. (Prentice-Hall 1994)
  • Legal Treatises: Scott, The Law of Trusts, 4th ed. Little, Brown & Co. 1987)
  • Law Review Article: Abbott & Kornblum, Jurisdiction of the Attorney General Over Corporate Fiduciaries Under the New California Nonprofit Corporation Law, 13 U.S.F. Law Review 753 (1979)
  • Law Review Article: Bell,Supervision of Charitable Trusts in California, 32 Hastings Law Journal 433 (1980)
  • Law Review Article: Schwarz & Hutton, Recent Developments in Tax Exempt Organizations, 18 U.S.F. Law Review 649 (1984) and 19 U.S.F. Law Review 299 (1985)

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Nonprofit Organization, Management Issues

  • Advising California Nonprofit Corporations, 2nd ed. (California Continuing Education of the Bar, 2003)
  • Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide
  • Governance for Nonprofits: From Little Leagues to Universities: A Summary of Organizational Governance Principles and Resources for Directors of Nonprofit Organizations (American Society of Corporate Secretaries and The National Center for Nonprofit Boards)
  • Anthony & Hazlinger, Management Control in Nonprofit Organizations, 7th ed. (McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2003)
  • O'Connell,The Board Member's Book, 3rd ed. (The Foundation Center, 2003)
  • Wolf, Managing a Nonprofit Organization in the Twenty First Century (Simon & Schuster, 1999)
  • DeKuyper, Trustee Handbook, a Guide to Effective Governance for Independent School Boards, 7th ed., 1998 (National Association of Independent Schools)

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Change in Raffle Reporting Requirements

Please note: A single aggregate report for all raffles held during the reporting year is due on or before October 1st. The Nonprofit Raffle Report (Form CT-NRP-2) must be used by all organizations. Precise record-keeping is required as reports that include estimates of proceeds and expenses will not be accepted for filing. Organizations that host raffles as part of a larger fundraising event must maintain a record of raffle proceeds and expenses separate from all other event monies: only raffle proceeds and expenses on Form CT-NRP-2.

Filing a Complaint

Have a complaint against a charity? Please use our complaint form, pdf. Mail the completed form and any attachments to:

  • Registry of Charitable Trusts
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • P.O. Box 903447
  • Sacramento, CA 94203-4470

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