When and how often must I register as a professional solicitor or fund-raising counsel?
All professional solicitors and only those fund-raising counsel that collect or at any time have custody of charitable contributions must register each year. The annual registration period runs from April 1st through March 31st. Please submit your registration materials at least two weeks prior to the March 31st deadline to allow our office sufficient time to process your registration.
If I register as a professional solicitor or fund-raising counsel late in the registration period, is my registration fee pro-rated?
No. Regardless of when you register, you still must pay the full $200 registration fee.
If a charity hires me to request charitable donations on its behalf, do I need to register?
If you are hired by a charity as an outside contractor to solicit charitable donations on its behalf and you will be compensated for your services, you must register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section as a professional solicitor each year. Individuals who are regular employees or serve as volunteer fundraisers for a charity do not need to register as professional solicitors.
What do I need to do to register as a professional solicitor?
You will need to complete registration at CharitablePortal.OhioAGO.gov, pay the $200 registration fee, provide the Surety Bond Form and Registration Affidavit.
If a charitable organization hires me to advise them on fundraising, but I don’t solicit charitable donations from the public, do I need to register?
Firms or people hired as consultants are known as fund-raising counsels. Fund-raising counsels need to register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office only if they at any time have custody of charitable contributions. If you are never in possession of any donations you do not need to register.
What do I need to do to register as a fund-raising counsel?
You will need to complete registration at CharitablePortal.OhioAGO.gov, pay the $200 registration fee, provide the Surety Bond From and Registration Affidavit.
Do employees of a charity need to register as professional solicitors?
No. Employees who perform duties for the charity on a routine basis and are on the payroll of the charity do not need to register separately as professional solicitors. Only independent parties who are contracted by the charity to perform charitable solicitations on their behalf and are paid must register with the Charitable Law Section as professional solicitors.
What is a surety bond?
Each professional solicitor and fund-raising counsel that registers with the Charitable Law Section must submit a surety bond as part of its registration every year. The surety bond is a contract among at least three parties:
- The principal (the professional solicitor or fund-raising counsel) - the primary party who will be performing a contractual obligation
- The obligee (the State of Ohio) – the party who is the recipient of the obligation
- The surety – who ensures that the principal’s obligations will be performed
Be certain that the period of coverage under the bond matches the entire registration period, which is April 1 through March 31 if registering for the full year.
Why must professional solicitors and fund-raising counsel be bonded?
This is a statutory requirement to ensure that professional solicitors and fund-raising counsel properly fulfill their obligations to the charity they represent and to the State of Ohio. When professional solicitors or fund-raising counsel fail to follow statutory requirements, the State can make a claim against the bond.
How and where can I obtain a surety bond?
Contact your insurance company first and ask if they issue surety bonds. Let them know that you need a surety bond to register as a professional solicitor or fund-raising counsel with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The bond must be issued by a surety authorized to do business in the State of Ohio. Insurance companies that issue surety bonds are familiar with the process and can help walk you through it.
Do you ever allow professional solicitors or fund-raising counsel to submit bond riders with registration?
The only time our office accepts bond riders is if it is a rider to a larger blanket liability bond. Larger blanket liability bonds are usually for a much higher amount of coverage and are issued for reasons unrelated to registration as a professional solicitor – such as for houses, cars, etc. The rider to this larger blanket bond would need to be very specific in order to meet our bonding requirements for your registration as a professional solicitor or fund-raising counsel.
Why was I assessed a late fee?
A $200 late fee is assessed for each late filing. Each registration, renewal of registration, bond and sworn statement is considered a separate filing.
Once I submit my registration as a professional solicitor or fund-raising counsel, how will I know when my registration application has been approved?
Our office will contact you if additional information is needed and will inform you when you are fully registered.
Once I am registered as a professional solicitor, can I begin soliciting?
No, you must first file a Solicitation Notice online. Additionally, the charity on whose behalf you are soliciting must be registered with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office prior to solicitation. You can use our online tool Research Charities to verify the charity’s status.
What is a solicitation notice?
Professional solicitors must file a solicitation notice through our online system prior to any solicitation. A solicitation notice identifies the charity, the start and end date of the solicitation campaign, solicitation methods, and percentage of gross revenue the charity is guaranteed to retain as a result of the campaign, among other information. A written contract stating the obligations of the professional solicitor and charity must accompany the solicitation notice, along with the Solicitation Notice Charity Consent Statement and Solicitation Notice Affidavit.
Are there any specific rules or requirements professional solicitors must follow when soliciting in Ohio?
Yes. Prior to soliciting, the professional solicitor must disclose:
- The name of the professional solicitor as it is on file with the attorney general and a statement that the solicitation is being conducted by the person as a professional solicitor.
- The name and address of each charitable organization on behalf of which all or any part of the contribution collected will be used.
- The percentage of the gross revenue from a campaign promised to the charity.
Most importantly, professional solicitors should not at any time mislead, deceive, or misrepresent any information to the potential donor in order to obtain a donation.
Is there a financial report that I must file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for each solicitation campaign?
Yes. All professional solicitors must submit a Campaign Financial Report through our online filing system.
When and how often must I file campaign financial reports with your office?
It depends on the length of your solicitation campaign, which is based on the solicitation begin and end dates provided in the solicitation notice. For solicitation campaigns lasting one year or less, a closing financial report is due within 90 days of the end of the campaign. For solicitation campaigns lasting more than one year, annual financial reports must be filed within 90 days of the anniversary of the start date of the campaign and a final report must be filed within 90 days of campaign of the end for any figures not covered in previous reports.
Why was I assessed a late fee?
A $200 late fee is assessed for each late filing. Each solicitation notice, contract, financial report and sworn statement is considered a separate filing.
I didn’t solicit or raise any money during my solicitation campaign. Do I still have to file a financial report?
Yes. You would still need to file a campaign financial report with our office certifying that you did not solicit or raise any money.
Does a fund-raising counsel have to file campaign financial reports with your office?
If a fund-raising counsel at any time have custody of charitable contributions from a solicitation conducted in Ohio, the fund-raising counsel must file a campaign financial report through our online system. A fund-raising counsel must report to the charity all contributions collected and expenses within 90 days of completion of campaigns lasting one year or less. For campaigns longer than one year, a fund-raising counsel must file annual reports with the charity on the campaign start date anniversary and a closing report within 90 days of campaign completion for any figures not covered in previous reports. A copy of the report must be filed with the Ohio Attorney General not later than seven days after it is furnished to the charity.
What does the Ohio Attorney General’s Office do with the information that is filed in campaign financial reports?
The Ohio Attorney General’s office publishes an annual report, Professional Fundraising Report
, that is made available to the public. This report highlights the charities that hire professional solicitors to conduct charitable solicitation campaigns, the gross revenue generated from these campaigns and the amount of the gross revenue retained by the charities.
As a professional solicitor, am I required to maintain records of my solicitation activities?
Yes. During each solicitation campaign and for not less than three years after its completion, the professional solicitor must maintain records of its solicitation activities including, but not limited to:
As a fund-raising counsel, am I required to maintain records of my solicitation activities?
- The name, and if known, the address and telephone number of each contributor and the date and amount of the contribution
- The name and home address of each employee, agent and any other person who is involved in the solicitation, the amount of compensation paid to each and the dates on which the payments were made
- A record of all contributions that at any time are in the custody of the professional solicitor
- A record of all expenses incurred by the professional solicitor and for which the professional solicitor is liable
- A record of all expenses incurred by the professional solicitor and for which the charitable organization is liable
- The location of each bank or financial institution in which the professional solicitor has deposited revenue from the solicitation campaign and the account number of each account in which the deposits were made
- A copy of each pitch sheet or solicitation script used during the solicitation campaign
- Any other record of such information as the Ohio Attorney General may require
Yes. During each solicitation campaign and for not less than three years after its completion, the fund-raising counsel must maintain records of its solicitation activities including, but not limited to:
- A record of each contribution that at any time is in the custody of the fund-raising counsel, including the name and address of each contributor and the date and amount of the contribution, provided that the attorney general shall not disclose that information except to the extent necessary for investigative or law enforcement purposes;
- The location of each bank or financial institution in which the fund-raising counsel has deposited revenue from the solicitation campaign and the account number of each account in which the deposits were made.
What is the definition of “solicit”?
An oral or written request, directly or indirectly, for money, property, financial assistance, or other thing of value, with the representation that the donations, or a portion of the donations, will be used for a charitable purpose or will benefit a charity. Solicitation also includes, but is not limited to, selling or attempting to sell advertisement, advertising space, membership, admission, sponsorship or any other tangible item while making an appeal for any charity or charitable purpose, or when the name of any charity is used or referred to in any such appeal.
What is a professional solicitor?
A professional solicitor is any person, group, or other entity that, for compensation, requests donations of money, property, financial assistance or any other thing of value with the representation that the donations, or a portion of the donations, will benefit a charity or will be used for a charitable purpose.
What is a fund-raising counsel?
A fund-raising counsel is a firm or individual that is hired by a charity to plan, manage, advise, consult, or prepare material for the solicitation of contributions for any charity. A fund-raising counsel does not solicit contributions or employ, procure, or otherwise engage any compensated person to solicit contributions.
What is the difference between a professional solicitor and fund-raising counsel? How do I know which definition I fall under?
The difference is that a fund-raising counsel consults, advises, plans, manages, and prepares materials for a charity. It does not perform any solicitations on behalf of a charity in the form of oral or written requests. A fund-raising counsel may not make an announcement to the public regarding a charitable campaign and it may not distribute written advertisements that directly or indirectly seek to obtain any contributions. A fund-raising counsel also does not sell or offer to sell any tangible item with which an appeal is made for any charity or charitable purpose.
Is there a statute that I must follow in order to conduct charitable solicitations in Ohio?
Yes. Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1716 governs charitable solicitations in Ohio.
Who can I contact if I have more specific questions regarding professional solicitors or fund-raising counsel?
If you have any questions, you may contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office by calling 800-282-0515 and request to speak to the professional solicitation registrar in the Charitable Law Section, or by emailing questions to ProfessionalSolicitor@OhioAGO.gov.