It’s another day of prospect research – which wouldn’t be complete without surfing the internet for brilliant strategies for improving the effectiveness of your efforts. Thanks to keen prospecting guidance from Jennifer Filla, you’re taking a deeper dive into your wealth information, pulling your fundraising team into the wealth conversation, and you’re on the path or reducing your prospect-to-donor ratio. As you welcome those donors into the fold, there’s something to keep in mind – fundraising compliance.
Why Compliance Matters
Why does fundraising compliance matter for your donors? While you research a donor, that donor researches you. There’s an excellent chance that your organization is incorporated in one of the 41 states that require charitable solicitation registration. There’s also an excellent chance that you have built your fundraising clout to a notable level. You’ve done an incredible job with your programming and have maximized the impact of each dollar raised. Your donors are impressed and telling their friends about your impact every way they know how – on social media, by word of mouth, and more. Their networks are your network and as unofficial ambassadors they are spreading your message, expanding your outreach, and asking prospects to give. That’s solicitation.
It’s reasonable to wonder where you need to register. In short – anywhere you ask for gifts! It’s not just about where you are; it’s about where do the people you ask for a gift reside. Are you casting a wide net, asking everyone connecting to your website and through social media to participate in your annual giving? Have you made your Donate Now button prominent so that anyone, anywhere can find you and give? Maybe some of your donors have moved away, but remain loyal givers. Some of the best, most loyal givers are helping you out and, on your behalf, asking others to give.
Don’t trip over technicalities as the money comes rolling in. Register before you ask. When that generous donor sends you a gift – because Cousin Larry talked about your work or Friend Rachel sent them an email – that gift landed them in your pipeline, no matter where they live. You aren’t going to leave money on the table. You are going to build the relationship and ask again… and now you’re soliciting. It’s critical that you determine if you’re soliciting in a state and then ensure you’re meeting all of the necessary requirements.
Four Key Steps
There are four key steps to remember to keep your fundraising compliance on track.
- Research: When you know your status in each state, you can easily map your path to compliance, including which applications to complete and what fees may be charged.
- Apply: Make sure you are preparing the correct forms in the most streamlined and cost-effective manner.
- Monitor: Follow these applications through to approval, for your donors’ peace of mind.
- Renew: Track due dates and fees so that your renewals are on time and complete.
Keep the Trust!
Instill confidence in your donors so their focus stays on your mission. Your relationships with your donors are built on trust. Transparency and accountability preserve that trust. Solicitation triggers registration. Prioritize compliance! If you’re not in compliance, your run the risk of:
- Fines and penalties that pull vital dollars away from the work that you are doing in your community.
- Audits and enforcement actions that take your limited time away from the mission you’re meeting.
- Bad PR that can taint the reputation of your organization and follow you for years to come.
Instead, reap the benefits and rewards that come with knowing that you can:
- Fundraise anywhere at any time.
- Tap into the relationships and connections that you have invested time in building.
- Show the world of donors that you are a legitimate, credible organization, worthy of both their trust and their hard-earned dollars.
You want to be proactive while honoring your valuable and desperately finite time and while maintaining that trustful relationship with your donors. Take that good-faith step of investing in compliance.
About the Author
Ify Aduba is a Nonprofit Compliance Specialist for Harbor Compliance, a leading provider of compliance solutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Harbor Compliance partners with organizations in every state in the U.S. and in over 25 countries to help solve the most challenging compliance problems. With clients that range from the largest organizations in the country to fast-growth startups, Harbor Compliance fully manages government licensing compliance in both nonprofit and business sectors.
In her spare time, Ify actively volunteers within her community. She currently serves as President of the Board of the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO), President of the Administrative Ministries Team at Doylestown United Methodist Church, and Board member for the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition. She is also a member of the Doylestown Branch of the American Association of University Women and Doylestown Rotary.