A professional solicitor is any person, group, or other entity that, for compensation, performs on behalf of or for the benefit of a charitable organization any service in connection with which contributions are or will be solicited in Ohio by the compensated professional or by any person it employs, procures, or otherwise engages directly or indirectly to solicit contributions; see Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 1716.01(J).
A fund-raising counsel is any person, group, or other entity that, for compensation, plans, manages, advises, consults, or prepares material for or with respect to the solicitation in Ohio of contributions for any charitable organization or at any time has custody of contributions from a solicitation, but does not solicit contributions and does not employ, procure, or otherwise engage any compensated person to solicit contributions; see ORC 1716.01(G).
Fund-raising counsel are required to register with the Ohio Attorney General only if they will at any time have custody of charitable contributions from a solicitation conducted in Ohio.
Requirements Prior to Solicitation
All professional solicitors, and all fund-raising counsel that will either collect or at any time have custody of charitable contributions, must register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office each year prior to April 1st. The registration period runs from April 1st through March 31st. Registration includes the following:
All professional solicitors must file a completed solicitation notice with the Charitable Law Section prior to commencement of any solicitation campaign. The solicitation notice must be submitted through our online portal at CharitablePortal.OhioAGO.gov.
Solicitation Notice requirements include the following:
- Completion of the online solicitation notice form
- A written contract stating the respective obligations of the professional solicitor and charity
- A signed and notarized Charity Consent Form
- A signed and notarized Solicitation Notice Affidavit
- Prior to solicitation, the charity must also be registered to solicit in Ohio. Please use our Research Charities tool to ensure the submitted charity is in compliance with its registration status
Once completed, the solicitation notice must be approved by our office before solicitation can begin.
Fund-raising counsel are not required to submit a solicitation notice. However, they must keep records for their solicitation campaigns for not less than three years after completion.
Requirements After Solicitation Starts
All professional solicitors must submit an annual campaign financial report for each solicitation campaign. This must be submitted through our online portal at CharitablePortal.OhioAGO.gov.
For solicitation campaigns lasting one year or less, a closing financial report is due within 90 days of completion of the campaign. For solicitation campaigns lasting more than one year, annual financial reports must be filed with our office within 90 days after the anniversary of the start date of the campaign, and a final report must be filed within 90 days of campaign completion for any figures not covered in previous reports.
Although fund-raising counsel are not required to submit a solicitation notice, they are required to prepare an accounting of all contributions collected and expenses paid for the contracted charity. These accountings must be provided to the charitable organization within 90 days after the solicitation campaign has been completed, and filed with our office seven days after it is furnished to the charitable organization.
Pursuant to ORC 1716.05(F) and ORC 1716.07(J), professional solicitors and fund-raising counsel are “liable for and, in addition to any fee required in this section, shall pay two hundred dollars for each late filing”. This means a late fee may be issued for failure to file on time each of the following items:
- Professional solicitor registration and/or renewal online form
- Professional solicitor registration surety bond form
- Professional solicitor registration affidavit
- Fund-raising counsel registration and/or renewal online form
- Fund-raising counsel registration surety bond form
- Solicitation Notice
- Solicitation notice online form
- Solicitation notice charity consent statement
- Solicitation notice affidavit
- Solicitation notice copy of contract
- Campaign Financial Report
- Campaign financial report online form
- Campaign financial report affidavit
- Fund-raising Counsel Accounting Online Form
To prevent your organization from being assessed any late fees, please file all required information in a timely manner.
Staying in Compliance with Ohio Law
In addition to the reporting requirements to the Charitable Law Section, ORC Chapter 1716 contains additional requirements and/or prohibitions related to charitable fundraising that include but are not limited to record retention policies and solicitation disclosures. Professional fundraisers may wish to retain private counsel to ensure they are in full compliance with Ohio law.