Frequently Asked Questions

Also see Charities' - Publications and Resources for other helpful information.

  1. I have just been solicited by a charity. How can I tell if it is legitimate?

    The Attorney General's office can tell you if a charity is registered and current in its reporting requirements. However, we can't tell you whether it is legitimate, or such things as how effective it is, or whether it uses its money wisely. There is no Attorney General's seal of approval. It is up to the individual donor to check out a charity for him/herself.

  2. How can I check out a charity?

    You may find the most recently filed Form 900, 990-EZ or 990 PF by searching the database maintained by the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts (Registry). The Registry maintains the public files, including, the financial reports (IRS Form 990) for registered charities. The Registry receives and processes the periodic financial reports that must be filed by the largest public benefit corporations and charitable trusts. If a charity has not registered with the California Attorney General, the Registry is unable to provide any information about it. Also, some charities, such as hospitals, schools, and churches, are exempt from registering and reporting to the Registry; thus, as to these charities, you may not find any information on the Registry’s database.

    If the charity has registered, the Registry can provide the following public information: a copy of its articles of incorporation or trust instrument, copies of annual information returns (IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ for public charities and Form 990 PF for private foundations) filed by the charity, and the RRF-1 form. These documents may contain valuable information about the charitable organization and its programs.

    Please note that not every financial report submitted by a charity is available on the Registry’s database, and the information on the reports is unedited. Please also note, the Registry does not make available for public viewing certain records and information submitted with the Form 990 and 990-EZ, such as the Schedule B.

  3. Can't I get information about a charity's operations and expenditures directly from the charity?

    Certainly. Federal law now requires a charity to send you a copy of its Form 990 for a reasonable charge. If the form is not available by searching the Registry’s database, this is the fastest way to obtain the information.

    Copies of Form 990 filed by the charities are also available on the Registry’s searchable database for free.

  4. How can I understand the information that is on a charity's Form 990?

    IRS Form 990 basically explains how much money the charity received for the year reported, and gives a fairly detailed breakdown of how the charity spent the money. The Attorney General's Office has prepared instructions for detailed review of a Form 990. They are contained in the Attorney General's Guide to Charitable Solicitation at pages 20-24, pdf.

  5. What is the role of governmental agencies regarding charities?

    Various government agencies take actions that affect the status and operations of charitable organizations. The IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board initially determine whether an organization qualifies for exemption from federal and state income tax. At any time during the operating life of a charity, the IRS or the Franchise Tax Board may audit the organization to determine its liability for taxes, penalties, or revocation of tax-exempt status.

    The role of the Attorney General in overseeing California charities is different from the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. The Attorney General represents the public beneficiaries of charities, who cannot sue in their own right. The Attorney General investigates and audits charities to detect cases in which directors and trustees have mismanaged, diverted, or defrauded the charity. If such improper actions by directors have resulted in a loss of charitable assets, the Attorney General may sue the directors to recover from them the missing funds. The funds recovered by the Attorney General are returned to the charity.

  6. What does the Attorney General investigate?

    Some of the problems frequently investigated by the Attorney General include:

    1. self-dealing transactions either between a director and the public benefit corporation, or by trustees;
    2. loans by a corporation to a director or officer;
    3. loss of substantial corporate funds or assets during one year;
    4. losses of charitable assets through speculative investments;
    5. excessive amounts paid by a public benefit corporation or charitable trust for salaries, benefits, travel, entertainment, legal and other professional fees;
    6. sale of a charity or conversion of a public benefit corporation to for-profit status (authorized by statute under restricted conditions) at a price that is unfair to the charity;
    7. illegal use of charitable funds; and
    8. diversion of charitable funds from their intended purpose.

    The Attorney General also investigates allegations of criminal activity by charities. Persons with complaints of criminal activity by a charity should also contact the local district attorney.

  7. What does the Attorney General's Office generally not investigate?

    The Attorney General's charitable trusts jurisdiction does not apply to churches, religious corporations, homeowners’ associations, and most mutual benefit corporations. The Attorney General does not review matters involving internal labor disputes, contested elections, disagreements between directors and members over policy and procedures, and most legal actions between charities and third parties regarding contracts or torts. Persons with complaints in any of the foregoing areas may choose to consult a private attorney to review legal rights and remedies.

  8. What can I expect when I submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office about a charity or a charitable solicitation?

    The Attorney General's Office receives thousands of inquiries and complaints from the general public, news reporters, and other interested parties regarding possible mismanagement or diversion of charitable assets. All complaints about charities are reviewed by the audit staff of the Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Section. An investigation is conducted in those cases in which there is reliable evidence of a diversion of assets or gross mismanagement resulting in a significant financial loss to the charity. If these improper actions have resulted in a loss of charitable assets, the Attorney General may sue the directors to recover from them the missing funds. The funds recovered by the Attorney General are returned to the charity. Although disclosure procedures prohibit the Attorney General from discussing pending investigations or indicating whether any specific action has or will be taken with respect to a particular organization, you may be assured that the Attorney General seeks to administer the charitable trusts laws equitably and efficiently.

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Charities - Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004

  1. To whom does the Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004 apply?
  2. What is included in "gross revenue" for the purpose of determining whether a charity must prepare audited financial statements under Government Code section 12586(e)?
  3. Are non-cash contributions included in "gross revenue" for the purpose of determining whether a charity must prepare audited financial statements under Government Code section 12586(e)?
  4. For purposes of determining gross revenue, how will income derived from special events be treated?
  5. For purposes of determining gross revenue, how will one-time donations be treated?
  6. Must a charity that has audited financial statements for any fiscal year ending before January 1, 2005, make those statements available for public inspection or provide copies to the public or to the Attorney General?
  7. What documents related to audited financial statements must be released to the public?
  8. Does the extension for filing IRS Form 990 also apply to the completion date for the audit?
  9. Who may serve on the audit committee?
  10. What is the permissible minimum size of the audit committee?
  11. May the board rely on the audit committee?
  12. When must a charitable organization conduct an initial review of the compensation of its president or CEO and its treasurer or CFO? May it wait to do so until one of the events set forth in the new law occurs?
  13. If a charity has staff members who are paid more than the president or CEO or the treasurer or CFO, does the compensation-review provision of the Act apply to them?
  1. To whom does the Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004 apply?

    The Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004 amended existing law, including the Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act (Government Code sections 12580-12599.7), which requires registration and annual reporting by all charitable corporations, unincorporated associations, trustees, and other legal entities holding property for charitable purposes, commercial fundraisers for charitable purposes, fundraising counsel for charitable purposes, and commercial coventurers, over which the Attorney General has enforcement or supervisory powers. The Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004 did not alter the range of persons and entities that are subject to the registration and reporting requirements.

    The law’s application is not limited to entities that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which pertains to charities. With certain limited exceptions, the law applies to any person holding money or property for charitable purposes. This includes entities that are tax exempt under other subsections of section 501(c), entities that are not tax exempt, and for-profit entities, if, apart from their general purposes, they hold assets for charitable purposes. If, for example, a social club or fraternal organization holds a fundraising event for a charitable purpose, such as creation of a college scholarship fund, the moneys it collects are held as a charitable trust and it is subject to the law.

    The law applies to all foreign charitable corporations (corporations formed under the laws of other states) doing business or holding property in California for charitable purposes. Doing business in California includes soliciting donations in California by mail, by advertisements in publications, or by any other means from outside of California that satisfy the constitutional "minimum contacts" test. Other examples of doing business in California include engaging in any of the following activities in California: holding meetings of the board of directors or corporate members here, maintaining an office here, having officers or employees who perform work here, and/or conducting charitable programs here.

    In general, if a foreign charity´s sole contact with California is that it makes grants to persons, programs or charitable organizations located in California, or maintains financial accounts or investments at an office of a financial institution located in California, it is not considered to be doing business in California for purposes of compliance with Government Code section 12580 et seq.

    The law applies to all commercial fundraisers for charitable purposes who solicit charitable donations, including donations of salvageable personal property, in California, or who receive any funds, assets, or property as a result of a solicitation in this state for charitable purposes, or who employ any compensated person to solicit, receive, or control funds, assets, or property for charitable purposes here.

    The law applies to all fundraising counsel for charitable purposes who for compensation plan, manage, advise, counsel, consult, or prepare material for any charitable solicitation in this state.

    (Government Code sections 12581, 12582, 12582.1, 12583, 12586(a), 12599(a), 12599.1(a); Business and Professions Code section 17510.)

  2. What is included in "gross revenue" for the purpose of determining whether a charity must prepare audited financial statements under Government Code section 12586(e)?

    "Gross revenue" under that section is the same as "total revenue," which currently appears on Line 12 of IRS Form 990 for public charities and Line 12, column (a) for private foundations. Follow instructions for IRS Form 990 and 990PF, Part I, Line 12.

  3. Are non-cash contributions included in "gross revenue" for the purpose of determining whether a charity must prepare audited financial statements under Government Code section 12586(e)?

    Yes. Follow instructions for IRS Form 990, Part I, Line 1.

  4. For purposes of determining gross revenue, how will income derived from special events be treated?

    Income from special events will be treated as reported on IRS Form 990. Follow instructions for IRS Form 990, Part I, Lines 9a through 9c.

  5. For purposes of determining gross revenue, how will one-time donations be treated?

    The statute does not provide for an exemption for such donations. Follow instructions for IRS Form 990, Part I, Line 1.

  6. Must a charity that has audited financial statements for any fiscal year ending before January 1, 2005, make those statements available for public inspection or provide copies to the public or to the Attorney General?

    No; the statute is not retroactive, although the Attorney General has the power, under investigative powers conferred by other statutory provisions, to require production of such financial statements.

  7. What documents related to audited financial statements must be released to the public?

    The audited financial statement and notes to the statement must be released to the public. The management letter is not part of the audited financial statement and is not required to be released to the public.

  8. Does the extension for filing IRS Form 990 also apply to the completion date for the audit?

    No. The statute does not provide for an extension of time.

  9. Who may serve on the audit committee?

    The audit committee may include persons who are not members of the board, but may not include any members of the staff of the corporation, including the president or CEO or the treasurer or CFO. (Government Code 12586(e)(2).)

  10. What is the permissible minimum size of the audit committee?

    The committee may consist of a single member.

  11. May the board rely on the audit committee?

    Corporations Code section 5212 provides that the board may appoint one or more committees that, to the extent provided by resolution of the board or in the bylaws (and with certain reservations), shall have all the authority of the board.

    Government Code section 12586(e)(2) states that, subject to supervision by the board, the audit committee shall recommend to the board the retention and termination of the independent auditor and may negotiate the auditor’s compensation. With respect to those functions, the audit committee does not have all the authority of the board because section 12586(e)(2) expressly makes the powers of the audit committee "subject to the supervision of the board of directors." Section 12586(e)(2) controls over section 5212 because it is more specific. For all other responsibilities outlined in subsection (e)(2), the audit committee does function as a section 5212 committee if all of the committee members are members of the board. If, however, the audit committee includes a non-board member, all of the committee’s actions are subject to the supervision of the board.

    Regardless of how the audit committee is constituted and regardless of what functions it performs, a director must perform the duties of a director in compliance with the provisions of Corporations Code section 5231.

  12. When must a charitable organization conduct an initial review of the compensation of its president or CEO and its treasurer or CFO? May it wait to do so until one of the events set forth in the new law occurs?

    The organization may wait until the occurrence of one of the events set forth in the statute to conduct its initial review of compensation. Those events are the hiring of the officer, the renewal or extension of the term of the officer's employment, and the modification of the officer´s compensation.

    This compensation review requirement does not supersede the existing fiduciary duties of officers, directors, and trustees in managing charitable organizations. They have a continuing duty to pay compensation to officers and directors that does not exceed what is fair and reasonable to the organization, and may incur personal liability for paying excessive compensation. Therefore the payment of excessive compensation at any time is a violation of the law. (Government Code section 12586(g); Corporations Code section 5235.)

  13. If a charity has staff members who are paid more than the president or CEO or the treasurer or CFO, does the compensation-review provision of the Act apply to them?

    No. As stated above, however, the members of the board of directors have a continuing duty to pay compensation that does not exceed what is fair and reasonable to the charity. Moreover, if a staff member actually performs the duties and functions of a president or CEO or a treasurer or CFO, a charity may not avoid the compensation review required by the Act by giving that person a different job title. (See California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 312.1., pdf)

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Charities - Registration & Renewals

  1. When is an organization required to register with the Attorney General's Office?
  2. Is there an annual fee for charities?
  3. We already sent this information to "The State." Why are you requesting it again?
  4. Our organization is "very small." We don't complete the IRS Form 990, so we don't need to register, right?
  5. My organization is not incorporated. Do we need to submit articles of incorporation?
  6. Why did my organization receive a Notice to Register? We did not apply for registration.
  7. My organization has filed the RRF-1 already. Why did we receive a Notice to Register?
  8. Our organization does not have copies of documents you have requested and the government agency we have ordered copies from says it will take longer than 30 days for us to receive them. What should we do?
  9. I mailed my initial registration documents before July 1, 2005. Will I need to submit the $25 registration fee payment?
  10. How is gross annual revenue defined?
  11. If an organization filed an extension prior to July 1st, is it required to remit the fee according to the new fee schedule?
  12. If an organization began operating prior to registering with the Registry of Charitable Trusts, is it required to file RRF-1's and IRS Form 990's for all years of operation?
  13. If an organization is planning to dissolve, does it need to file a final RRF-1?
  14. If an organization failed to file RRF-1's for prior years, would the organization be subject to the new fee schedule for those years?
  15. Can an organization check its filing status online?
  16. If an organization requests an extension of time to file the RRF-1, does it need to notify the Registry of the extension?
  17. Can an organization submit the Uniform Registration Statement as a renewal form?
  18. If an organization is changing its fiscal year, must it file an RRF-1 for the partial fiscal year?
  19. If an organization is filing an amended RRF-1, does it have to pay an additional fee?
  20. If a foreign corporation (i.e. a nonprofit corporation incorporated in a state other than California) files an RRF-1, is the fee based on annual gross revenue generated in California only, or on total annual gross revenue?
  21. Do you accept estimated amounts on the RRF-1?
  22. Why does my organization need to register with your office?
  23. You have an outdated address for my organization. What form do I need to complete?
  24. Why can't I find our information on your website?
  25. Do you have an address where forms can be submitted overnight or in person?
  1. When is an organization required to register with the Attorney General's Office?

    As of January 1, 2005, registration is required within 30 days after receiving assets. To register, an organization must submit articles of incorporation and bylaws and pay an initial registration fee of $25. The initial registration fee applies to all charities registering with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts for the first time regardless of gross revenue or assets. Use form CT-1, pdf and the initial registration guide, pdf, both of which are available on the Attorney General’s Charities website.

    If already registered, a charity must submit the annual Registration Renewal Fee Report along with the appropriate fee. Charities renewing their registration also must submit a copy of the IRS Form 990, if applicable.

  2. Is there an annual fee for charities?

    Yes. Registration renewal fees must be paid each year by charities with gross annual revenues of $25,000 or more. The fee is a sliding scale ranging from $25 to $300, based on the charity's gross annual revenue. View the fee schedule in Instructions for Filing Annual Registration Renewal.

  3. We already sent this information to "The State." Why are you requesting it again?

    Charitable corporations incorporated in or doing business in California are required to file documents with a number of state agencies regarding various aspects of their operations. The Attorney General has primary supervisory jurisdiction over charitable corporations to assure that their assets are used for charitable purposes. The Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act (Government Code sec. 12580 - 12599.7) requires charitable corporations to register with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts and to file annual reports.

  4. Our organization is "very small." We don't complete the IRS Form 990, so we don't need to register, right?

    Regardless of assets or revenue, once an organization is operating in California it is required to register with the Registry of Charitable Trusts within 30 days after receipt of assets, and file Form RRF-1 with the Registry annually.

  5. My organization is not incorporated. Do we need to submit articles of incorporation?

    Articles of incorporation are the founding document for nonprofit corporations. For unincorporated entities, articles of association or articles of organization are required. The founding document should be signed and dated by the founders and contain organizational information such as, but not limited to: the charitable purpose and what will happen to the entity's assets should it dissolve.

  6. Why did my organization receive a Notice to Register? We did not apply for registration.

    The two most common reasons are: (1) your tax preparer's software directed the preparer to submit a copy of your IRS Form 990 to this office, and we then determined that the entity is required to register and report to this office; or (2) a member of the general public made an inquiry concerning a solicitation from your organization.

  7. My organization has filed the RRF-1 already. Why did we receive a Notice to Register?

    Registration documents must be submitted to the Registry of Charitable Trusts in order for the Registry to determine if your organization is subject to registration. The RRF-1 is an annual renewal form and cannot be processed for organizations that are not registered with this office.

  8. Our organization does not have copies of documents you have requested and the government agency we have ordered copies from says it will take longer than 30 days for us to receive them. What should we do?

    Send us a fax, letter or email, include your CT file number and contact information. Indicate which agency you have contacted and how long it will take for you to receive the requested information.

  9. I mailed my initial registration documents before July 1, 2005. Will I need to submit the $25 registration fee payment?

    No.

  10. How is gross annual revenue defined?

    Please refer to instructions for Line 12 of IRS Form 990 and Line 12(a) of Form 990 PF

  11. If an organization filed an extension prior to July 1st, is it required to remit the fee according to the new fee schedule?

    No, if a copy of the extension is submitted with the filing.

  12. If an organization began operating prior to registering with the Registry of Charitable Trusts, is it required to file RRF-1's and IRS Form 990's for all years of operation?

    Yes.

  13. If an organization is planning to dissolve, does it need to file a final RRF-1?

    Yes.

  14. If an organization failed to file RRF-1's for prior years, would the organization be subject to the new fee schedule for those years?

    Yes.

  15. Can an organization check its filing status online?

    Yes. To check an organization's filing status, go to the Attorney General's website at:
    http://rct.doj.ca.gov/Verification/Web/Search.aspx?facility=Y .

  16. If an organization requests an extension of time to file the RRF-1, does it need to notify the Registry of the extension?

    No. Send a copy of request for IRS extension, and if applicable, copy of approved extension, with completed RRF-1 and IRS Form 990.

  17. Can an organization submit the Uniform Registration Statement as a renewal form?

    No, the Uniform Registration Statement can only be used for initial registration.

  18. If an organization is changing its fiscal year, must it file an RRF-1 for the partial fiscal year?

    Yes. If so, would a renewal fee be required? Yes, based on total revenue for the reporting period.

  19. If an organization is filing an amended RRF-1, does it have to pay an additional fee?

    No.

  20. If a foreign corporation (i.e. a nonprofit corporation incorporated in a state other than California) files an RRF-1, is the fee based on annual gross revenue generated in California only, or on total annual gross revenue?

    The filing fee is calculated based on total gross annual revenue.

  21. Do you accept estimated amounts on the RRF-1?

    Yes, but an amended form would need to be submitted with the actual amounts, together with any additional fee due if gross annual revenue exceeded the estimate. Refunds will not be made.

  22. Why does my organization need to register with your office?

    Please see the "Guide for Charities" for more information.

  23. You have an outdated address for my organization. What form do I need to complete?

    There is no specific form for updating information. Please notify us in writing (mail, fax or email) and indicate the name and title of the individual requesting the change.

  24. Why can't I find our information on your website?

    Depending on when in our "cycle" your entity was registered, it may take up to four months for the information to appear on our website.

  25. Do you have an address where forms can be submitted overnight or in person?

    Forms can be submitted overnight or in person to the address below:
    Registry of Charitable Trusts
    1300 I Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814

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  1. Why did we get this delinquency letter?

    Your charity/nonprofit/trust received this letter because it has not filed one or more of the required annual reports with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts ("Registry"). Charitable organizations and trusts are required to be registered and to file the Registration Renewal Fee Report ("Form RRF-1") annually with the Registry. Required annual reports include Form RRF-1, IRS Form 990, 990-PF, or 990 EZ if your organization files a Form 990 with the IRS, as well as all applicable schedules filed with the Internal Revenue Service (collectively referred to as "reports").

    Unless specifically exempted under the Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act (Government Code sections 12580-12599.8), registration and annual reporting are required by all charitable nonprofit corporations, unincorporated associations, trustees, and other legal entities holding assets for charitable purposes. Any charitable organization established outside of California that is doing business or holding property in this state for charitable purposes must also register with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts.

  2. What is the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts?

    The Registry of Charitable Trusts administers the statutory registration and reporting program for all organizations and individuals that control and/or solicit charitable funds or assets in California. The Attorney General regulates charities and the professional fundraisers who solicit on their behalf. The Attorney General has the duty to protect donors, charities themselves, and the beneficiaries of charities.

  3. How do I know which reports are delinquent? How do I access the charity's records online?

    If you have access to the internet, please visit our website at www.oag.ca.gov/charities and click on the link "Registry Search" to view the year-end reports that are on file with the Registry. At the "Registry Search" page, enter only one of the organization's identifying numbers – State Charity Registration Number ("CT" number), Corporate, or FEIN. The CT number is located at the top of the letter you received with this FAQ Sheet. The year-end reports that are on file with the Registry will appear under the heading "Annual Renewal Information." The charity/nonprofit/trust is required to file complete reports every year with the applicable renewal fee. If the Status field is blank or shows a status of "Incomplete" or "Rejected," complete reports were not filed for the year indicated and those reports are now delinquent. If the Status field shows "Accepted" but the 990 Attached field shows a "N", it indicates no IRS Form 990 has been filed and the organization's filing for that year is considered incomplete if the revenue amount for the fiscal year is over the IRS threshold for filing a return.

    A screenshot of the Registry Search page is shown below for reference.

    Registry Search page
  4. What is a State Charity Registration Number?

    The State Charity Registration Number is the Charitable Trust ("CT") number assigned to an organization by the Registry of Charitable Trusts at the time of registration. The CT number for your charity/nonprofit/trust is located at the top of the letter you received with this FAQ Sheet.

  5. Why do we need to provide a copy of Form 990 if we already give it to the IRS?

    The IRS is a separate Federal entity. The IRS does not forward Form 990's to the Registry. The role of the Attorney General in overseeing California charities is different from the IRS. The Attorney General has primary supervisory jurisdiction over California charitable corporations, unincorporated associations, trustees, and other legal entities holding assets for charitable purposes to assure that their assets are used for charitable purposes. Form 990 is one of the public filings that allow donors to become informed about a charity before making a decision to give.

  6. Where can I get the forms?

    For forms and instructions, please visit our website at www.oag.ca.gov/charities and click on the link "Forms."

  7. How much are the renewal fees?

    Please refer to Form RRF-1 and the RRF-1 instruction sheet to determine the renewal fee amount required for your charity/nonprofit/trust. The renewal fee amount is based on the organization's gross annual revenue for the fiscal year listed in Part A of the RRF-1 Form. The appropriate renewal fee must be submitted with the organization's Form RRF-1.

  8. My charity's Form 990 can be downloaded through the "searchable database" link on the Registry website. Why do I need to file our Form 990 if the Registry already has it?

    The "searchable database" link on the Registry website (www.oag.ca.gov/charities) is a third-party website that scans informational returns (IRS Form 990) filed directly with the IRS. The searchable database is not the Registry's database; it does not contain any state-specific registration information. The Registry website includes a link to the third-party searchable database as a courtesy to assist the public in locating informational returns. Because the Registry is not affiliated with the third-party searchable database, the fact that a charity's informational returns may be located in the searchable database does not fulfill the charity's independent obligation to file its informational returns directly with the Registry. Registry personnel cannot utilize the information in the searchable database to fulfill your organization's independent filing requirements.

  9. What is the "Registry Search"? What types of documents are public filings?

    The "Registry Search" link on the Registry website allows a charity's public filings to be viewed and downloaded directly from the Registry database. The documents filed with the Registry that are public filings include IRS Form 990, registration forms, founding documents (e.g., articles of incorporation) and the annual renewal Form RRF-1.

    Please also note, the Registry does not make available for public viewing certain records and information submitted with the Form 990 and 990-EZ, such as the Schedule B, that are considered confidential documents.

  10. I cannot locate the organization's historical file or banking documents. How can I complete the RRF-1?

    Contact your organization's tax preparer and/or attorney. Tax and legal professionals will often retain copies of prior filings and/or historical documents prepared on behalf of an organization. You may also refer to the "searchable database" described above in FAQ #8 to locate and download Form 990's that were previously filed by your organization with the IRS.

  11. My organization is NOT a 501(c)(3) entity, do we still have to file with the Registry?

    The Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act (Government Code sections 12580-12599.8) requires registration and annual reporting by all charitable nonprofit corporations, unincorporated associations, trustees, and other legal entities holding assets for charitable purposes. The law's application is not limited to entities that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. With very limited exception, the Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act applies to any person/entity holding money or property for charitable purposes, including entities that are tax exempt under other subsections of 501(c), entities that are not tax exempt, and for-profit entities that hold assets for charitable purposes.

  12. We lost our tax exempt status after failing to file tax returns for three consecutive years. How do we reinstate our tax exempt status?

    Regardless of an organization's exempt status, all charities are required to file Form RRF-1 every year.

    Please contact the IRS (http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Reinstatement-of-Tax-Exempt-Status-after-Automatic-Revocation) and/or Franchise Tax Board for instructions on how to reinstate and/or revive your tax exempt status. The IRS and Franchise Tax Board are separate entities from the Registry.

    Additional information may be found at:

    http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Reinstatement-of-Tax-Exempt-Status-after-Automatic-Revocation

    https://ftb.ca.gov/businesses/Exempt_organizations/Filing_Requirements_Form_199N.shtml#Consequences

  13. Our organization has not conducted business for a number of years. How do I reflect that inactivity on our RRF-1 form?

    Regardless of an organization's activity level, all charities/nonprofits/trusts are required to file Form RRF-1 every year. If the organization has been dormant and has not received charitable donations or assets of any kind during a specific year, that information can be reflected on the RRF-1 by indicating zero ($0) revenue for that year. If your organization no longer intends to operate, you may wish to dissolve the organization. For information on dissolution see FAQ #14 below.

  14. Where can I find information regarding dissolution?

    Please refer to our website at www.oag.ca.gov/charities and click on the link "Forms," which includes the PDF instruction sheet entitled "Dissolving a Nonprofit Corporation." For additional information, please contact the Dissolution program at 916-210-6400, option 8, or by email at dissolution@doj.ca.gov for assistance.

  15. How can I obtain additional information?

    You may contact the Delinquency Unit at (916) 210-6400, extension 6, or by email at Delinquency@doj.ca.gov, or by mail at Registry of Charitable Trusts, Attention: Delinquency Unit, P.O. Box 903447, Sacramento, CA 94203-4470. Be sure to include your CT number and contact information on all correspondence.

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  1. What is a commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes?

    A commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes is defined as any individual, corporation, or other legal entity who for compensation does either of the following:

    • Solicits funds, assets, or property in California for charitable purposes.
    • As a result of a solicitation of funds, assets, or property in this state for charitable purposes, receives or controls the funds, assets, or property solicited for charitable purposes.
    • Employs, procures, or engages any compensated person to solicit, receive, or control funds, assets, or property for charitable purposes.

    (See Government Code section 12599 for a complete definition.)

  2. What is a fundraising counsel?

    A fundraising counsel for charitable purposes is defined as any person who is described by all of the following:

    • For compensation plans, manages, advises, counsels, consults, or prepares material for, or with respect to, the solicitation in this state of funds, assets or property for charitable purposes.
    • Does not solicit funds, assets, or property for charitable purposes.
    • Does not receive or control funds, assets, or property solicited for charitable purposes in this state.
    • Does not employ, procure, or engage any compensated person to solicit, receive, or control funds, assets, or property for charitable purposes.

    Note: Registration is not required if the total annual gross compensation for performing fundraising counsel activities does not exceed $25,000.

    (See Government Code section 12599.1 for complete definition.)

  3. What is a commercial coventurer?

    A commercial coventurer is defined as any person who, for profit, is regularly and primarily engaged in trade or commerce other than in connection with the raising of funds, assets, or property for charitable organizations or charitable purposes, and who represents to the public that the purchase or use of any goods, services, entertainment, or any other thing of value will benefit a charitable organization or will be used for a charitable purpose.

    (See Government Code Section 12599.2 for complete definition.)

  4. What is required to register as a commercial fundraiser?
    • A completed and signed Registration Form (CT-1CF, pdf ).
    • $350 in certified funds.
    • The original of a properly executed $25,000 surety bond in the registrant's name. If unable to obtain the bond, both the Deposit of Assignment form (CT-8CF, pdf) (completed by the commercial fundraiser) and the Receipt for Notice of Assignment form (CT-9CF, pdf ) (signed by the bank) must be submitted along with the original pass book or certificate of deposit indicating $25,000 is held in the Attorney General's name.
  5. What is required to register as a fundraising counsel?
    • A completed and signed Registration Form (CT-3CF, pdf ).
    • $350 in certified funds.
  6. What is required to register as a commercial co-venturer?
    • A completed and signed Registration Form (CT-5CF, pdf ).
    • $350 in certified funds.
  7. When is registration required?

    Registration is required prior to soliciting any funds in California for charitable purposes, or prior to January 15 of each year.

  8. Do I have to file a financial report or accounting of funds or assets received as a result of a solicitation for charitable purposes?

    Commercial fundraisers must file an annual financial report for each campaign conducted for each charity during a calendar year.

  9. Which financial reporting form should I use to file the required financial report(s)?

    There are three different financial reporting forms:

    • Annual Financial Report (Commercial Fundraisers ) (CT-2CF, pdf).
    • Annual Financial Report (Thrift Store Operations) (CT-2TCF, pdf  ).
    • Annual Financial Report (Vehicle Donation Program) (CT-2VCF, pdf).

    Registered commercial fundraisers should use the financial reporting form that is appropriate for their organization. All financial reporting forms are available on the commercial fundraiser website.

  10. When must annual financial reports be filed?

    Annual financial reports must be filed by January 30 of each year.

  11. Is there a penalty for not completing registration or filing annual financial report(s) by the required dates?

    SB 2015 has added Section 12586.1 to the Government Code which reads "In addition to a registration fee, a ...commercial fundraiser, fundraising counsel, or co-venturer may be assessed a late fee or an additional fee of twenty-five dollars ($25) for each month or part of the month after the date on which the registration statement or financial report were due to be filed ...if the commercial fundraiser, fundraising counsel or co-venturer does any of the following:

    • Exists and operates in California without being registered.
    • Solicits contributions in California without being registered or, if applicable, bonded.
    • Fails to correct the deficiencies in its registration or annual report within 10 days of receipt of written notice of those deficiencies.

    A complete copy of Government Code sections 12580-12599.7 is available on the commercial fundraiser website under "Statutes and Regulations."

  12. Does a copy of the contract between the commercial fundraiser or fundraising counsel and the charitable organization need to be filed with the Attorney General's Office?

    No, a copy of the contract does not need to be submitted unless specifically requested by the Attorney General's Office.

  13. What is the Notice of Intent to Solicit For Charitable Purposes and when is it required to be filed?

    Effective January 1, 2005, commercial fundraisers for charitable purposes and fundraising counsel are required to file a notice of intent to solicit for charitable purposes, not less than 10 working days prior to the commencement of each solicitation campaign, event or service. For campaigns to solicit aid for victims of emergency hardship or disasters, the notice must be filed not later than the commencement of solicitation.

    CT-10CF, pdf :
    Notice Of Intent To Solicit For Charitable Purposes - Commercial Fundraiser

    CT-11CF, pdf :
    Notice Of Intent To Solicit For Charitable Purposes - Fundraising Counsel

    (See Government Code Sections 12599(h) and 12599.1(e).)

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