By Theresa Bornbach
Non-profit fundraisers have a new quiver in their ever-expanding bag of arrows.
Since 2012, many local, national and international charities have been retooling their fundraising efforts to include – and even highlight – #GivingTuesday as a main source of revenue.
For five years now, charities have been gearing up for the post-Thanksgiving Day online fundraising push, which will happen this year on November 28. This purely social media-structured fundraising extravaganza is expected to net non-profits more than $201 million this year, according to Whole Whale. That amounts to a projected 20 percent increase in the funds generated in 2016.
Charities have figured it out: #GivingTuesday can work for them, often at low cost, low staffing output.
As the founder and principal of a business catering specifically to non-profits in the realm of charitable non-profit registration, I have seen first-hand how #GivingTuesday can result in immense benefits to non-profits, helping many further their mission or expand their programming.
But, as someone with more than 30 years in the compliance industry, I must also be a voice of caution to many non-profit leaders and their fundraisers who seek to participate in #GivingTuesday as an easy way to score online gifts.
If your non-profit organization is not registered in the states in which it currently solicits donations, your organization and board of directors can be subject to penalties and fines for failing to register. And since the #GivingTuesday event is wholly conducted online – and the internet has no statewide boundaries – your gifts could conceivably come from any and every state in the nation. Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia require non-profits to register for solicitation. Online fundraising has many nuances. In 14 states, there are specific statutes related to online fundraising.
I have seen the unintended consequences of charities soliciting on #GivingTuesday but having failed to register in the states in which they solicit the #GivingTuesday gifts. Sadly, situations like these can result in the charity owing more in fines and penalties than was reaped in the gift from that specific state.
Charitable solicitation registration can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be! I encourage non-profit leaders and fundraisers to know the rules about charitable solicitation before embarking on your #GivingTuesday campaign!
Theresa Bornbach is the founding principal of Capstone Charity Resources, an international charitable solicitation registration firm based in Cedar Rapids. Over the past 30 years, Theresa has held executive positions in regulatory and compliance roles.