The Attorney General regulates charities and the professional fundraisers who solicit on their behalf. The purpose of this oversight is to protect charitable assets for their intended use and ensure that the charitable donations contributed by Californians are not misapplied and squandered through fraud or other means. The main elements of the Attorney General´s regulatory program are:
- The attorneys and auditors of the Charitable Trusts Section investigate and bring legal actions against charities and fundraising professionals that misuse charitable assets or engage in fraudulent fundraising practices. If you have a complaint about a charity or fundraising professional, please use our complaint form, pdf.
- The Registry of Charitable Trusts administers the statutory registration program. All charitable trustees and fundraising professionals are required to register and file annual financial disclosure reports with the Registry. In addition, nonprofit organizations that conduct raffles for charitable purposes are required to register and file an annual financial report.
- The Attorney General also offers guidance to help Californians make important personal decisions on charitable giving. These resources include the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors, pdf and searchable databases to learn about specific charities and charitable fundraising professionals in the state.
Guide for Charities
The Attorney General’s Guide for Charities has been revised and there is a live webinar discussing the Guide. The video and additional resources are available on the Guide for Charities page. The video is also available on the California Department of Justice's YouTube Channel. Please also review other Registry Publications and Resources.
Charity Research Resources
The Registry Verification Search tool allows a registrant’s public filings to be viewed and downloaded from the Registry database. These public filings include a copy of the federal annual informational return (IRS Forms 990, 990-PF, and 990-EZ) initial and renewal registration forms and data (e.g. Forms CT-1, RRF-1), other documents that organizations are required to file with this office, and incoming and outgoing Registry correspondence. For help using and interpreting the results from our search tool, please review Registry Verification Search tool - Tips for use and definition of the codes.
This tool, along with the resources posted on the Resources page, allows donors to become informed about a charity before making a decision to give. In the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors, pdf, you will find giving tips and, on pages 9-14, a guide to reviewing the Form 990. If you have any questions regarding Registry filings, Contact the Registrar.
Notice to Attorney General in Probate Matters
The Attorney General’s Office must be given notice of any matter involving a gift to charity, assets held in charitable trust, disposition or gifts of assets to an unnamed charitable beneficiary or property that may escheat to the State of California. For a summary of statutes that require notice to the Attorney General, please refer to the Notice Requirements.