Florida Charitable Solicitation Laws

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General
The Florida Solicitation Act, Section 496 of the Florida Statutes, regulates fundraising in Florida.  Unless exempted from registration under the statute, a charity must register with the  Florida Department of Agriculture and consumer services, and file annual reports to be allowed to solicit charitable contributions in the state.  If the charity is a Florida based charity it must also register with the department of state division of corporations as well as file reports with the Department of Revenue.  Links to these forms and requirements can be found at the bottom of this article. This act does not apply to bona fide religious institutions, educational institutions, and state agencies or other government entities or persons or organizations who solicit or act as professional fundraising consultants solely on their behalf. This section also does not apply to political contributions solicited in accordance with the election laws of this state. Other Exemptions are:
  1. A person who is soliciting for a named individual, provided that all the contributions collected without any deductions whatsoever are turned over to the beneficiary for her or his use and provided that the person has complied with the requirements of s. 496.413.
  2. A charitable organization or sponsor which limits solicitation of contributions to the membership of the charitable organization or sponsor. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term "membership" does not include those persons who are granted a membership upon making a contribution as a result of a solicitation.
Initial Registration Requirements
The Florida Department of Agriculture and consumer services requires those wanting to fundraise in Florida to file a lengthy form.  A link to the form and requirements are listed in the Resources section.  Florida does use the URS system for multistate filling. The Florida form requires the following:
  • Provide general information on the entity, including the FEIN
  • IRS Determination Letter, or IRS Form 1023 or 1024 if the determination letter is not yet obtained;
  • All required filing fees
  • Affidavit with signed oath
  • Financial report or IRS form 990
  • Pay all applicable fees which vary depending on the contributions received the preceding fiscal year up to $400.
Annual Reporting Requirements
A charitable organization registered in Florida must submit its annual report to the Department of Agriculture and consumer services. The Department will mail a renewal statement to the charity 60 days prior to expiration.

Filing Fees
Filing fees range in cost from $10 to $400 depending on the amount of contributions received.

What Constitutes Solicitation
Pursuant to Florida Statute 496. 404 a Solicitation" means a request, directly or indirectly, for money, property, financial assistance, or any other thing of value on the plea or representation that such money, property, financial assistance, or other thing of value or a portion of it will be used for a charitable or sponsor purpose or will benefit a charitable organization or sponsor. "Solicitation" includes, but is not limited to, the following methods of requesting or securing the promise, pledge, or grant of money, property, financial assistance, or any other thing of value:
  1. Any oral or written request;
  2. Making any announcement to the press, on radio or television, by telephone or telegraph, or by any other communication device concerning an appeal or campaign by or for any charitable organization or sponsor or for any charitable or sponsor purpose;
  3. Distributing, circulating, posting, or publishing any handbill, written advertisement, or other publication that directly or by implication seeks to obtain any contribution; or
  4. Selling or offering or attempting to sell any advertisement, advertising space, book, card, coupon, chance, device, magazine, membership, merchandise, subscription, sponsorship, flower, admission, ticket, food, or other service or tangible good, item, or thing of value, or any right of any description in connection with which any appeal is made for any charitable organization or sponsor or charitable or sponsor purpose, or when the name of any charitable organization or sponsor is used or referred to in any such appeal as an inducement or reason for making the sale or when, in connection with the sale or offer or attempt to sell, any statement is made that all or part of the proceeds from the sale will be used for any charitable or sponsor purpose or will benefit any charitable organization or sponsor.
A solicitation is considered as having taken place whether or not the person making the solicitation receives any contribution. A solicitation does not occur when a person applies for a grant or an award to the government or to an organization that is exempt from federal income taxation under s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and described in s. 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code and is duly registered with the department.

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