If your nonprofit is doing fundraising in New York, it likely has to register with the New York State Attorney General's Charities Bureau.
When Registration Is Required
Charitable organizations must register with the New York Attorney General before soliciting contributions in New York state, unless they fall within an exemption. The registration requirement includes soliciting contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies located in the state. In addition, organizations that own money or property in New York may have to register under Estate Powers and Trusts Law. This can be done at the same time you register under the charitable solicitations law.
Exemptions From Registration
New York has a lengthy list of organizations that are exempt from its registration requirements. A nonprofit that qualifies for an exemption must file an Exemption Request with the Charities Bureau and obtain a letter from the bureau confirming the exemption. See Schedule E, Request for Registration Exemption for Charitable Organizations.
$25,000 exemption. Your nonprofit is exempt if (1) it does not use professional fundraisers in New York; and (2) its gross (total) contributions from New York state are less than $25,000 per year. You must count toward the $25,000 limit:
- contributions by individuals who live in New York, and
- grants or other financial assistance from foundations, corporations, and government agencies located in New York.
Membership dues and similar payments need not be counted toward the limit.
Religious organizations. Any religious corporation or other organization with a religious purpose is exempt. Organizations operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization are also exempt--for example, religious schools. These religious organizations are exempt from all provisions of New York's charitable solicitations law.
Educational institutions. Any educational institution that solicits contributions only from its student body, alumni, faculty, trustees, and their families is exempt. Any educational institution or museum that files annual reports with the Board of Regents of the State University of New York or a similar agency in another state is also exempt. Libraries that file annual reports with the New York Education Department are exempt as well.
PTAs. Any New York state parent teachers association, or any PTA affiliated with an exempt New York educational institution, is exempt.
Membership organizations. A membership organization (fraternal, patriotic, social, or alumni) that confines its solicitation of contributions to its membership is exempt.
Appeals for single individuals. People or organizations that solicit contributions for a single named individual are exempt, provided all the contributions are paid to the person for whom the money was collected.
Government agencies. All government agencies and any organizations they control are exempt.
Other exemptions. The following types of organizations are also exempt, provided they solicit contributions only from their members:
- law enforcement support groups
- a historical society chartered by the Board of Regents of the State University of New York
- veterans organizations
- volunteer firefighters organizations, and
- volunteer ambulance service organizations.
How to Register
Registering requires your nonprofit to file an application with the New York State Department of Law (Office of the Attorney General) Charities Bureau Registration Section and pay a filing fee. You can use either the Uniform Registration Form or the state form, CHAR410, Registration Statement for Charitable Organizations. Copies of the following documents must be included with your application:
- your certificate of incorporation or other organizational document
- your bylaws or other internal rules
- if you have applied to the IRS for a tax exemption, your application for exemption (IRS Form 1023 or 1024), and
- your IRS determination letter, if any.
No renewal registration is required. However, registered organizations must submit an annual financial report 4 1/2 months after their fiscal year ends. If you use the calendar year, the report is due May 15th. This is the same due date as the filing deadline for the IRS Form 990.
The New York Attorney General has an extremely informative website, with all the state registration forms, instructions, FAQs, and videos.
For a comprehensive guide as well as help registering in all 50 states, see Nolo's book, Nonprofit Fundraising Registration.