If your nonprofit is doing fundraising in Florida, it likely has to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and renew the registration each year.
When Registration Is Required
Any charitable organization that intends to solicit contributions in Florida by any means must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services unless it falls within an exemption. The initial registration must be completed before any solicitation is made.
Exemptions From Registration
Florida exempts the following types of nonprofits from registration. Unlike most states, there is no exemption for very small nonprofits.
Religious institutions. "Religious institution" means any church, ecclesiastical or denominational organization, or established physical place for worship at which nonprofit religious services and activities are regularly conducted. It also includes bona fide religious groups which do not maintain specific places of worship. "Religious institution" also includes any separate group or corporation which forms an integral part of a tax-exempt religious institution, and which is not primarily supported by funds solicited outside its own membership or congregation. These religious organizations are exempt from all the provisions of Florida's charitable solicitations law.
Religious organizations that file a Form 990 with the IRS are not exempt and must register.
Educational institutions. "Educational institution" includes all accredited state tax-supported, parochial, church, and nonprofit private schools, colleges, and universities. It also includes:
- private nonprofits such as the PTA or alumni groups that raise funds for schools teaching grades kindergarten through 12, colleges, or universities
- museums open to the public
- nonprofit libraries
- art galleries
- performing arts centers that provide educational programs for school children involving performances or other educational activities at the center, provided that a minimum of 50,000 school children are served each year
- tax-exempt college and university newspapers, and
- tax-exempt educational television and radio stations.
Membership organizations. Membership organizations that solicit contributions from their membership only are exempt.
Government entities. Government agencies and other government entities need not register.
Veterans’ Organizations. Any division, department, post, or chapter of a veterans’ service organization granted a federal charter under Title 36, United States Code, is exempt.
Solicitations for a single person. A person who solicits contributions for a single named individual does not need to register as long as all the contributions collected are placed in a trust account and are turned over to that individual.
Political groups. Political groups who solicit contributions in accordance with the Florida election laws need not register.
How to Register
Registering requires your nonprofit to file the state's application form (the Florida Charitable Organizationals/Sponsors Registration Application) with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and pay a filing fee. Copies of the following documents must be included with your application:
- IRS determination letter
- copies of all current contracts with any solicitors hired by your nonprofit, and
- a financial report--this may consist of a copy of the Form 990 or 990-EZ that your nonprofit filed with the IRS for the immediately preceding fiscal year, or you may complete the financial statement on the application form; if your nonprofit is brand new and has no financial history, you may submit a budget for the current year using the financial statement on the application form or your own form.
Audited financial statements are not required.
All Florida nonprofit registrations expire after one year and must be renewed each year. The expiration date is one year from the date you completed your initial registration. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will mail your nonprofit a renewal statement at least 60 days before the renewal date.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website contains the state forms and links to state laws on charitable solicitation.
For a comprehensive guide as well as help registering in all 50 states, see Nolo's book, Nonprofit Fundraising Registration.