Charitable Fundraising Platforms

Use the Registry of Charities and Fundraisers’ Online Filing Service to:

  • Apply for registration as a charitable fundraising platform using Form PL-1
  • Renew registration as a charitable fundraising platform using Form PL-2 (available October 2024)
  • File notifications from platform charities using Form PL-3
  • File annual fundraising reports from charitable fundraising platforms or platform charities using Form PL-4 (available January 2025)

A user account with the Online Filing Service is required.

A charitable fundraising platform is a person, corporation, or other legal entity that provides a website, mobile device application, or other internet-based platform to Californians, and performs, permits, or enables solicitations through its platform. The different types of solicitations include:

  • Soliciting donations for one or more charities through the platform, including "micro donations," "round up donations," or donations of any amount;
  • Enabling "peer-to-peer charitable fundraising" in which platform users solicit charitable donations from others on the platform (e.g., "crowdfunding" for charity);
  • Soliciting through "charitable sales promotions," "cause marketing campaigns," or "free action programs," in which platform users make purchases or perform other activity that cause donations to be sent to one or more charities based on their purchases or activity; or
  • Providing a platform to charities that can be "private-labeled" or customized and allow charities to solicit donations through the platform, including through peer-to-peer charitable fundraising.

This list of examples is not exhaustive. (Gov. Code, §§ 12581.2, 12599.9, subd. (a)(1); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, § 314 subds. (m) to (q).)

When a charitable fundraising platform performs, permits, or enables solicitations through its platform, it may enter into a partnership with a platform charity, a charity that facilitates donations for other charities referenced in solicitations on the platform. A partnership means a contractual relationship, where one of the contract’s purposes is for the platform charity to facilitate solicitations on the charitable fundraising platform. A platform charity may be responsible for obtaining consent from other charities to be referenced in solicitations, may receive and hold donations made on the platform, may provide tax donation receipts to those who made donations on the platform, may determine whether charities referenced in solicitations are eligible to be sent donations, and may send donations to the charities referenced in solicitations, among other responsibilities. A platform charity’s responsibilities may vary, and are determined by the terms of the partnership. (Gov. Code, § 12599.9, subd. (a)(5); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, § 314, subd. (i).)

It is possible for a charity to meet the definition of both a platform charity and a charitable fundraising platform when it has entered into a partnership with one or more charitable fundraising platforms to facilitate solicitations on those platforms, and the charity also independently provides a website, mobile device application, or other internet-based platform to Californians, and performs, permits, or enables solicitations through its own platform. When this is the case, the charity is deemed a charitable fundraising platform. (Gov. Code, § 12599.9, subd. (b)(1).)

Charities referenced in solicitations on a charitable fundraising platform are generally called "recipient charitable organizations." They are not a platform charity because they did not enter into a partnership with a charitable fundraising platform to facilitate solicitations for other charities also referenced on the platform. (Gov. Code, § 12599.9, subd. (a)(7).)

Form PL-1 Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions

Form PL-1 is the initial registration form for charitable fundraising platforms. It is filled out, paid for, and filed through the Registry’s Online Filing Service.

  • Form PL-1 Questions: the questions on Form PL-1 can only be answered through the Online Filing Service. It will be rejected if Form PL-1 is not submitted through the Online Filing Service. Answer questions completely, including providing narrative answers and PDF attachments when applicable. Narrative answers must include all information required by a question. Do not incorporate by reference information or documents via hyperlink, which are deemed incomplete answers. The Online Filing Service saves answers prior to filing, so that the form does not need to be filled out in one sitting.
  • Form PL-1 Definitions: the form uses defined terms, which have the meaning reflected in the definitions.
  • Privacy Notice: this privacy notice applies to the form.
  • Signature: Electronically sign the form under penalty of perjury when prompted.
  • Registration fee: a $625 fee must be paid. Payment is made via credit card (an additional payment processing fee applies) or checking account (ACH), after answering the questions and signing the form, and before filing the form through the Online Filing Service.

  1. Who must file Form PL-1? When must it be filed?

    Every charitable fundraising platform must register with the Registry before performing, permitting, or enabling any solicitations. (Gov. Code, §§ 12581.2, 12599.9, subds. (a)(1) & (b)(1); Cal. Code Regs., §§ 314, subds. (m) to (q), 315, subd. (a).)

    This requirement is effective June 12, 2024. However, no late fees will be assessed if filed by October 12, 2024.

  2. Are exclusions available so that Form PL-1 need not be filed?

    See Government Code section 12599.9, subdivision (a)(2), for the exclusions. A person or entity excluded from the definition of a charitable fundraising platform is not a charitable fundraising platform and should not file Form PL-1.

    For example, a person or entity is not a charitable fundraising platform and thus excluded from filing Form PL-1 when the entity is only deemed a commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes because: the entity, for compensation, also performs solicitations via telephone or direct mail (excluding electronic mail or messages); solicits donations through in-person fundraising events; solicits noncash donations; solicits through print, radio, or television more than on an incidental basis; or performs solicitations involving a chance to win something of value. In these instances, the person or entity must register as a commercial fundraiser for charitable purposes (if not already registered as such), and comply with other requirements applicable to commercial fundraisers).

  3. Are registration fees refundable?

    No.

  4. How do I get a user account to the Online Filing Service? Does it matter if I have an existing registration with the Registry (e.g., as a trustee/charity or commercial fundraiser)?

    A user account with the Online Filing Service is required. To set up an account, select the "Sign up now" link on the Online Filing Service’s Sign In page, and follow the directions to confirm your email address and establish your password. Your email address will act as your account username. The procedure to confirm your email address is necessary each time you sign in.

    If you have an existing registration with the Registry, the steps to establish a user account are the same. However, once signed into the Online Filing Service, connect your user account to the existing registration by using the "Don’t see your license? Click here to search for it" link. You will be asked to enter the Registration Number (shown as "License Number") and Registration Code (previously provided by the Registry) associated with your existing registration. Once the registration is found by the Online Filing Service, it will be listed in the "Existing Registration Holders" section.

  5. How do I begin the Form PL-1 filing process in the Online Filing Service?

    Once signed into the Online Filing Service, select the "Begin Form PL-1" button. If an existing registration displays, select that registration instead of the "Create New Organization" option.

  6. What happens after filing?

    Filing a complete Form PL-1 starts the registration process. Filings are reviewed to determine whether a registration number should be provided. A registration number is assigned by the Registry to each registered charitable fundraising platform and registration is effective for the remainder of the calendar year. Registration renewal and reporting occurs on an annual basis thereafter through the filing of Form PL-2 (renewal) and Form PL-4 (reporting). See Government Code section 12598, subdivision (e)(1), and California Code of Regulations, title 11, sections 339 to 341 for when registration may be refused, suspended or revoked.

    Filings are processed based on the date of receipt, provided the filing is complete. Once approved, the Registry emails a confirmation of registration with the applicant’s registration number. If the filing is incomplete or there are additional questions, the Registry emails the applicant a notice with the information or documents requested. Applicants can review the status of a filing in the Registry Search Tool.

  7. How do I obtain a copy of the Form PL-1 filing?

    After processing the filing, an official copy of the Form PL-1 filing is made available in the Registry Search Tool.

    The Online Filing Service provides an unofficial copy of the filing after submission. Do not rely on the unofficial copy, which is not publicly accessible.

  8. When does initial registration expire?

    Initial registration is for a calendar year, and expires December 31 of the registering year, regardless of when registration was granted in that year.

Form PL-2 Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions

Form PL-2 is the renewal of registration form for charitable fundraising platforms. It is filled out, paid for, and filed through the Registry’s Online Filing Service.

  • Form PL-2 Questions: the questions on Form PL-2 can only be answered through the Online Filing Service. It will be rejected if Form PL-2 is not submitted through the Online Filing Service. The Online Filing Service will not prompt a question when not applicable for a registrant. Answer questions completely, including providing narrative answers and PDF attachments when applicable. Narrative answers must include all information required by a question. Do not incorporate by reference information or documents via hyperlink, which are deemed incomplete answers. The Online Filing Service saves answers prior to filing, so that the form does not need to be filled out in one sitting.
  • Form PL-2 Definitions: the form uses defined terms, which have the meaning reflected in the definitions.
  • Privacy Notice: this privacy notice applies to the form.
  • Signature: Electronically sign the form under penalty of perjury when prompted.
  • Registration renewal fee: a $625 fee must be paid. Payment is made via credit card (an additional payment processing fee applies) or checking account (ACH), after answering the questions and signing the form, and before filing the form through the Online Filing Service.

  1. Who must file Form PL-2? When must it be filed?

    Every charitable fundraising platform registered as a charitable fundraising platform must file Form PL-2 with the Registry to renew registration for each calendar year if, during that year, a charitable fundraising platform has been, is, or will be performing, permitting or enabling any solicitations, or has been, is, or will be receiving, holding, or controlling, or sending donations. Also renew registration when a charitable fundraising platform partners with a platform charity (or another charitable fundraising platform) to assist with these activities. Form PL-2 must be filed by January 15 of each year for which registration is being renewed. (Gov. Code, §§ 12581.2, 12599.9, subds. (a)(1) & (b)(2); Cal. Code Regs., §§ 314, subds. (m) to (q), 315, subd. (b).)

  2. Can I file Form PL-2 this calendar year for renewal of registration for the next calendar year?

    Yes. Form PL-2 can be filed beginning in October for the subsequent calendar year.

  3. Are exclusions available so that Form PL-2 need not be filed?

    See Government Code section 12599.9, subdivision (a)(2), for the exclusions. A person or entity excluded from the definition of a charitable fundraising platform is not a charitable fundraising platform and should not file Form PL-2, including a person or entity who was previously registered as a charitable fundraising platform, but is no longer a charitable fundraising platform.

  4. Are registration renewal fees refundable?

    No.

  5. How do I begin the Form PL-2 filing process in the Online Filing Service?

    Once signed into the Online Filing Service, find your registration record and select the action menu item "File Form PL-2 Registration Renewal." This menu item will be operational beginning October 2024.

  6. What happens if Form PL-2 is not filed by the January 15 deadline?

    When registration is not timely renewed, the charitable fundraising platform’s registration expires. Charitable fundraising platforms with an expired registration are not in good standing, and are prohibited from soliciting or operating as a charitable fundraising platform in California. Failure to timely file Form PL-2 may result in assessment of late fees and automatic suspension of registration status. Also, the charitable fundraising platform is not eligible for its Form PL-4 to be filed by a partner, if applicable. (Gov. Code, §§ 12586.1, 12599.6, subd. (f)(1); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, §§ 312, 315, subd. (f)(1), 341.)

  7. What happens after Form PL-2 is filed?

    Filing a complete Form PL-2 starts the registration renewal process. Filings are reviewed to determine whether registration should be renewed. If renewed, registration is effective for the calendar year for which it was filed. For reasons as to why registration may be refused, suspended or revoked, see Government Code section 12598, subdivision (e)(1), and California Code of Regulations, title 11, sections 339 to 341.

    Filings are processed based on the date of receipt, provided the filing is complete. If the filing is incomplete or there are additional questions, the Registry emails the registrant a notice with the information or documents requested. Registrants can review the status of a filing in the Registry Search Tool.

  8. How do I obtain a copy of the Form PL-2 filing?

    After processing the filing, an official copy of the Form PL-2 filing is made available in the Registry Search Tool.

    The Online Filing Service provides an unofficial copy of the filing after submission. Do not rely on the unofficial copy, which is not publicly accessible.

  9. When does registration expire?

    Registration is for a calendar year, and expires December 31, regardless of when registration was renewed in that year.

Form PL-3 Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions

Form PL-3 is for platform charities to notify the Attorney General of a partnership entered into with a charitable fundraising platform to facilitate solicitations on that platform. It is filled out and filed through the Registry’s Online Filing Service.

  • Form PL-3 Questions: the questions on Form PL-3 can only be answered through the Online Filing Service. It will be rejected if Form PL-3 is not submitted through the Online Filing Service. Answer questions completely, including narrative answers. Narrative answers must include all information required by a question. Do not incorporate by reference information or documents via hyperlink, which are deemed incomplete answers. The Online Filing Service saves answers prior to filing, so that the form does not need to be filled out in one sitting.
  • Form PL-3 Definitions: the form uses defined terms, which have the meaning reflected in the definitions.
  • Privacy Notice: this privacy notice applies to the form.
  • Signature: Electronically sign the form under penalty of perjury when prompted.

  1. Who must file Form PL-3? When must it be filed?

    Every platform charity registered as a trustee/charity in California must file Form PL-3 with the Registry when the platform charity enters into a partnership with a charitable fundraising platform to facilitate solicitations on that charitable fundraising platform, unless: notification was already provided through the platform charity’s registration as a trustee/charity, or through registration of the partnering platform.

    Form PL-3 must be filed within 30 days of entering into a partnership with a charitable fundraising platform, unless notification was already provided through the platform charity’s registration as a trustee/charity, or through registration of the partnering platform. The partnership triggers the filing of Form PL-3, and not whether any solicitations are publicly accessible on the partnering platform.

    If a platform charity entered into a partnership with more than one charitable fundraising platform in the last 30 days, submit one Form PL-3 for all partnerships.

    This requirement becomes operative June 12, 2024. However, no late fees will be assessed for filings due before September 12, 2024.

  2. How do I get a user account to the Online Filing Service? Does it matter if I have an existing registration with the Registry (e.g., as a trustee/charity)?

    A platform charity must be registered as a trustee/charity first before using the Online Filing Service to file Form PL-3.

    A platform charity with an existing trustee/charity registration must create a user account with the Online Filing Service. To set up an account, select the "Sign up now" link on the Online Filing Service’s Sign In page, and follow the directions to confirm your email address and establish your password. Your email address will act as your account username. The procedure to confirm your email address is necessary each time you sign in.

    Once signed into the Online Filing Service, connect your user account with your existing trustee/charity registration by using the "Don’t see your license? Click here to search for it" link. You will be asked to enter the Registration Number (shown as "License Number") and Registration Code (provided by the Registry) associated with your existing registration. At the time of registration as a trustee/charity, registrants are sent a confirmation letter that includes their registration code. Once the registration is found by the Online Filing Service, it will be listed in the "Existing Registration Holders" section.

  3. How do I begin the Form PL-3 filing process in the Online Filing Service?

    Once signed into the Online Filing Service, find your registration record and select the action menu item "File Form PL-3 Notification from Platform Charities."

  4. What happens after Form PL-3 is filed?

    The filing is processed by the Registry based on the date of receipt, provided the filing is complete. If complete, the Registry makes available a copy of the filing in the Registry Search Tool. If incomplete or there are additional questions, the Registry emails the registrant a notice with the information or documents requested. Registrants can review the status of a filing in the Registry Search Tool.

  5. How do I obtain a copy of the Form PL-3 filing?

    After processing the filing, an official copy of the Form PL-3 filing is made available in the Registry Search Tool.

    The Online Filing Service provides an unofficial copy of the filing after submission. Do not rely on the unofficial copy, which is not publicly accessible.

Form PL-4 Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions

Form PL-4 is for charitable fundraising platforms or platform charities to annually report on their fundraising activities. It is filled out and filed through the Registry’s Online Filing Service.

  • Form PL-4 Questions: the questions on Form PL-4 can only be answered through the Online Filing Service. It will be rejected if Form PL-4 is not submitted through the Online Filing Service. The Online Filing Service will not prompt a question when not applicable for a registrant. Answer questions completely, including narrative answers and attachments when applicable. Narrative answers must include all information required by a question. Do not incorporate by reference information or documents via hyperlink, which are deemed incomplete answers. For questions that request dollar amounts, report only whole dollars, round down amounts, and do not use symbols (e.g., $100.99 should be reported as 100). Attachments are required for questions that request PDF copies of disclosures (Part C questions 11 to 13), and questions that request data on donations for charities in a comma separated values (CSV) file (Part C questions 15, 17, 19, and Part D question 5). The CSV files must comply with the instructions and formatting in the questions and Form PL-4 Attachments 1 to 4 listed below. When using Attachments 1 to 4, do not modify them but for providing the requested data and saving them as CSV files. The Online Filing Service saves answers prior to filing, so that the form does not need to be filled out in one sitting.
  • Form PL-4 Attachment 1: use this Excel template to submit an answer for Part C question 15, when applicable. Submit as a CSV file.
  • Form PL-4 Attachment 2: use this Excel template to submit an answer for Part C question 17, when applicable. Submit as a CSV file.
  • Form PL-4 Attachment 3: use this Excel template to submit an answer for Part C question 19, when applicable. Submit as a CSV file.
  • Form PL-4 Attachment 4: use this Excel template to submit an answer for Part D question 5, when applicable. Submit as a CSV file.
  • Form PL-4 Definitions: the form uses defined terms, which have the meaning reflected in the definitions.
  • Privacy Notice: this privacy notice applies to the form.
  • Signature: Electronically sign the form under penalty of perjury when prompted.

  1. Who must file Form PL-4? Can someone else file my Form PL-4?

    Every charitable fundraising platform or platform charity operating in California must file a Form PL-4 with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charities and Fundraisers to report on fundraising activities that occurred in the calendar year that is being reported on ("reporting year").

    A Form PL-4 may be filed on a charitable fundraising platform’s behalf by its partner retained to facilitate solicitations on the registrant’s platform. This is only permitted when the criteria specified in California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 315, subdivision (f), are met, which includes the charitable fundraising platform authorizing its partner to file the platform’s Form PL-4 for which a Form PL-2 (for registration renewal) was completed and timely filed. When the criteria are met, the Online Filing Service will allow a partner to file a Form PL-4 for its partnering charitable fundraising platform and the charitable fundraising platform must still examine and sign Form PL-4 under oath, before it is filed.

  2. If registration is not renewed for the current calendar year, does Form PL-4 still need to be filed for the fundraising activities of the preceding calendar year?

    Yes.

  3. When must Form PL-4 be filed? What is the time period covered for Form PL-4?

    The deadline for filing a Form PL-4 is July 15 of the current calendar year to report on fundraising activities that occurred during the prior calendar year (January 1 to December 31). When timely filed, the prior calendar year is the reporting year. The July 15 deadline applies regardless of the fiscal year a charitable fundraising platform or platform charity follows for its financial recordkeeping. A Form PL-4 filing shall only cover one calendar year.

    For 2024 only, the reporting year is from June 12, 2024 to December 31, 2024.

  4. What happens if Form PL-4 is not filed by the July 15 deadline?

    When Form PL-4 is not timely filed, by July 15, a charitable fundraising platform’s or platform charity’s registration becomes delinquent. A charitable fundraising platform or platform charity with a delinquent registration is not in good standing, and is prohibited from soliciting or operating as such in California. Failure to timely file Form PL-4 may result in assessment of late fees and automatic suspension of registration status. (Gov. Code, §§ 12586.1, 12599.6, subd. (f)(1), 12599.9, subd. (d)(1); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, §§ 312, 341.)

  5. How do I begin the Form PL-4 filing process in the Online Filing Service?

    Once signed into the Online Filing Service, find your registration record and select the action menu item "File Form PL-4 Annual Fundraising Report." If an authorized partner is filing for another registrant, select the action item "Manage Partnering Platforms" and then select the platform the partner wishes to file a Form PL-4 on behalf of. These menu items will be operational beginning January 2025.

  6. Is there a sample available of Form PL-4’s Attachments 1 to 4 with correctly formatted data?

    See this sample Attachment 1 with data saved as a CSV file. Do not use this sample to provide answers for Form PL-4 Part C questions 15, 17, 19, and Part D question 5, as it is provided to only show data formatted in compliance with the questions’ and attachments’ instructions.

  7. Does Form PL-4 require fee information to be filed? If the fee information is confidential or a trade secret, what happens to that information?

    When applicable, the form’s Part C question 5 and Part D question 3 request fee information. Follow the question’s instructions for submitting fee information the registrant believes is confidential or a trade secret. When submitted in compliance with the question’s instructions, that information is not made publically available. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, § 315, subd. (g).)

  8. What happens after Form PL-4 is filed?

    Filings are processed based on the date of receipt, provided the filing is complete. If the filing is incomplete or there are additional questions, the Registry emails the registrant a notice with the information or documents requested. Registrants can review the status of a filing in the Registry Search Tool.

    If the filing is complete, the Registry makes available a copy of the filing in the Registry Search Tool (without fee information the registrant believes is confidential or a trade secret, if any, in response to the form’s Part C question 5 and Part D question 3).

    If the Registry finds fee information submitted as confidential or a trade secret is not confidential or a trade secret, the Registry emails the registrant a notice of this finding, and instructs the registrant to amend Form PL-4 within 45 days after notice. If not amended in accordance with the notice, the fee information would be made publicly available. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 11, § 315, subd. (g).)

  9. How do I obtain a copy of the Form PL-4 filing?

    After processing the filing, an official copy of the Form PL-4 filing (including attachments) is made available in the Registry Search Tool.

    The Online Filing Service provides an unofficial copy of the filing after submission. Do not rely on the unofficial copy, which is not publicly accessible.

  10. Can a Form PL-4 filing be amended?

    A Form PL-4 filing may be amended, and there is no deadline for amending filings unless otherwise notified.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: June 5, 2024