Colorado Charitable Solicitation Laws
The Colorado Charitable Solicitations Act, C.R.S. 6-16-101 et seq., regulates fundraising in Colorado. Unless exempted from registration under the statute, a charity must register with the Secretary of State and file annual reports in order to be allowed to solicit charitable contributions in Colorado.
Pursuant to C.R.S. 6-16-104(6), certain types of entities and people are exempted from the registration requirements. These include:
- Charitable organizations that do not intend to and do not actually raise or receive gross revenue in excess of $25,000 during a fiscal year. Exclude government grants and grants from tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations when calculating gross revenue. The amount and geographical source of contributions are not important; look only at the organizationís gross (total) revenue, which means the gross amount received by the organization during its annual accounting period from all sources without reduction for any costs or expenses.
- Charitable organizations that do not receive contributions from more than ten persons during a fiscal year.
- A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, an association or convention of churches, an integrated auxiliary of a church, an exclusively religious activity of a religious order, a mission society sponsored by or affiliated with one or more churches or church denominations, more than one-half of the activities of which society are conducted in, or directed at persons in foreign countries, or a school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order that is exempt from filing a federal annual information return (IRS Form 990). Religious organizations that file a Form 990 are not exempt and must register.
- Political parties, candidates for federal or state office, and political action committees required to file financial information with federal or state elections commissions.
Initial Registration Requirements
Coloradoís Secretary of State requires charities to register and report annually using an online form. The following information must be provided in the application:
- The name of the charitable organization, the charitable purpose for which it is organized, and the name or names under which it intends to solicit contributions;
- The address and telephone number of the principal place of business of the charitable organization and the address and telephone number of any offices in this state, or, if the charitable organization does not maintain an office in this state, the name, address, and telephone number of the person that has custody of its financial records;
- The names and addresses of the officers, directors, trustees, and executive personnel of the charitable organization;
- The last day of the fiscal year of the charitable organization;
- The place and date when the charitable organization was legally established, the form of its organization, and its tax-exempt status;
- A financial report for the most recent fiscal year, a copy of the charitable organization's federal Form 990, with all schedules except schedules of donors, for the most recent fiscal year. If, at the time of the initial registration, the charitable organization does not have the required financial report or Form 990 for the most recent fiscal year, the charitable organization shall submit a financial report or Form 990 for the most recent fiscal year in which such information is available. An organization that was first legally established within the past year and thus does not have financial information or a Form 990 for its most recent fiscal year shall provide to the Secretary of State a financial report based on good faith estimates for its current fiscal year on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State. Any organization that files a good faith estimate for its first fiscal year shall amend its initial registration statement to report actual financial information no later than the fifteenth day of the fifth month after the close of the organizationís first fiscal year.
Annual Reporting Requirements
The registration of a charitable organization shall be amended annually to reflect any changes of name, address, principals, corporate forms, tax status, and any other changes that materially affect the identity or business of the charitable organization. Annual amendments shall be filed at the same time as and together with any required financial report regardless of when the charitable organization filed its initial registration.
Every charitable organization required to register shall annually file with the Secretary of State a financial report for the most recent fiscal year or, in the discretion of the Secretary of State, a copy of the charitable organizationís federal Form 990, with all schedules except schedules of donors, for the most recent fiscal year. Such financial report shall be filed on or before the fifteenth day of the fifth calendar month after the close of each fiscal year in which the charitable organization solicited in Colorado.
A charitable organization that is unable to file a copy of its Form 990 return or the Secretary of Stateís financial form by the prescribed deadline may request an extension of the filing deadline from the Secretary of State. All such requests shall be made and granted under terms, conditions, and procedures that are substantially similar to the terms, conditions, and procedures applicable to obtaining an extension of time to file a Form 990 return from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A charitable organization shall provide the Secretary of State with its most recently completed Form 990 return, or such financial information as the Secretary of State may require, in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State, during the extension period. An organization that was first legally established within the past year and thus does not have financial information or a Form 990 for its most recent fiscal year shall provide to the Secretary of State a financial report based on good faith estimates for its current fiscal year on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State.
In Colorado, charitable organizations pay a filing fee of $10 for registration statements, amendments, and renewals. There is currently no charge for an amendment that is filed within 30 days of the date when the original filing was approved.
If an organization has not renewed its registration to solicit contributions in Colorado on or before the due date or filed for an extension of the deadline, it will assessed a late filing fee of up to $100 per year. Late fees will increase with time according to the following schedule.
|Days past Deadline
||Late Filing Fee
| 15 days
| 30 days
| 60 days
What Constitutes Solicitation
"Solicit" or "solicitation" means to request, or the request for, directly or indirectly, money, credit, property, financial assistance, or any other thing of value on the plea or representation that such money, credit, property, financial assistance, or other thing of value, or any portion thereof, will be used for a charitable purpose or will benefit a charitable organization. The term "solicit" or "solicitation" shall include, but need not be limited to, the following methods of requesting or securing such money, credit, property, financial assistance, or other thing of value:
(a) Any oral or written request; or
(b) Any sale or attempted sale of or any offer to sell any advertisement, advertising space, book, card, tag, coupon, device, magazine, membership, merchandise, subscription, flower, ticket, candy, cookies, or other tangible item in which any appeal is made for any charitable organization or purpose, or for which the name of any charitable organization is used or referred to in any such appeal as an inducement or reason for making any such sale, or for which any statement is made that the proceeds or any portion thereof from such sale will be used for any charitable purpose or will benefit any charitable organization. A "solicitation" shall be deemed to have taken place whether or not the person making the "solicitation" receives any contribution.