Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds New Law to Increase Commercial Charitable Fundraiser Transparency and Accountability

Monday, September 21, 2015
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released the following statement today in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of Assembly Bill 556, legislation authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and sponsored by Attorney General Harris that will help increase consumer confidence in charitable giving.

“I applaud Governor Brown for signing AB 556, our legislation to increase transparency and accountability in charitable fundraising,” said Attorney General Harris. “This law empowers Californians to donate wisely by providing clear information about how charities use their donations. I thank Assemblymember Irwin for introducing the legislation and for her leadership on this important issue.”

AB 556 closes loopholes in disclosure laws for paid commercial fundraising campaigns by modifying the definition of “commercial fundraiser” to include fundraising counsel that use deceptive tricks to evade registration and fundraising transparency requirements. Fundraising campaigns involving these for-profit companies will now have to disclose whether a portion of donor contributions will be directed to the paid fundraiser.  The bill also expands the existing 10-year statute of limitations for charitable enforcement cases to include for-profit fundraising firms and other third parties who engage in misconduct, extending the window of time to investigate and prosecute violations of charitable law by for-profit fundraisers.

“I’m pleased that Governor Brown signed AB 556, a collaborative effort with Attorney General Kamala Harris to increase transparency in charitable donations,” said Assemblymember Irwin. “This bill will support consumer confidence for the more than 70,000 active nonprofit organizations doing great work in California.”

The bill was supported by a diverse coalition of nonprofits operating in California and received unanimous support in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Attorney General Harris’ office recently released a report summarizing the results of charitable solicitation campaigns conducted by commercial fundraisers in 2013, which found that commercial fundraisers collected approximately $361.5 million in charitable contributions in 2013, an increase of $67.2 million over the amount reported in 2012. Read the report here: https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/charities/publications/2013cfr/cfr2013.pdf.

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