West Virginia Charitable Solicitation Laws
The West Virginia Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, codified at W.Va. Code § 29-19-1 et seq., regulates fundraising in West Virginia. Unless exempted from registration under the statute, every charitable organization which intends to solicit contributions, donations, or grants within the state, or have funds solicited or received on its behalf, must register with the Secretary of State prior to any solicitation.
Registration and Reporting Requirements
The West Virginia Secretary of State accepts registrations on the URS form plus the West Virginia supplement, or an organization can complete and file the West Virginia Registration Statement of Charitable Organization found at the Secretary of State’s webpage, http://wvsos.com/forms/charity/Chr1.pdf. The forms must be filed prior to any solicitation, and are good for one year. The organization must then re-file in the next year and each following year in which it is engaged in solicitation.
For initial registration, the organization must file the following with the Secretary of State:
- The registration statement or unified registration statement plus West Virginia supplement;
- An IRS Tax determination letter;
- A copy of the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990;
- A balance sheet and financial statement;
- Copies of current contracts with professional fundraising counsel and professional solicitors; and
- The required registration fee.
- The name of the organization and the purpose for which it was organized;
- The organization’s principal address and the address of any offices in the state (if there are no offices then the address of the person having custody of the organization’s financial records);
- The names and addresses of any chapters, branches, or affiliates in the state;
- The place where and date when the organization was legally established and the form of its organization;
- The names and addresses of the officers, directors, trustees and the principal salaried executive staff officer;
- A copy of a balance sheet and a statement or report of income and expenses for the organization’s immediately preceding fiscal year, the costs and expenses incidental to the fundraising, and a showing of how the funds were disbursed or allocated for the same fiscal year (Note that an organization raising more than $100,000 per year the financial statement should be audited by an independent public accountant);
- A copy of any determination of the organization’s tax exempt status and a copy of the last filed IRS Form 990 and Schedule A;
- Whether the organization intends to solicit contributions, donations, or grants from the public directly or have other solicitation done on its behalf by others;
- Whether the organization is authorized by any other governmental authority to solicit contributions, donations or grants and whether it is or has ever been enjoined by any court from soliciting contributions;
- The general purpose(s) for which the contributions to be solicited shall be used;
- The name(s) under which it intends to solicit contributions;
- The names of the individuals or officers of the organization who will have final responsibility for the custody of the contributions;
- The names of the individuals or officers responsible for the final distribution of the contributions; and
- Copies of all contract documentation from professional fund-raising counsels and solicitors.
Filing fees must be submitted with the initial registration and annual reports. The amounts are as follows:
- $15 for every charitable organization receiving less than $1,000,000 during any year
- $50 for every charitable organization collecting more than $1,000,000 during any year
- $50 for a parent organization filing on behalf of one or more chapters, branches, or affiliates, or a single organization filing under different names.
Charitable Organizations Assistant, Secretary of State
Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305-0770
The following types of charities are exempt from annual registration: educational institutions that are registered or approved by the State Board of Education, and any auxiliary associations, foundations and support groups which are directly responsible to any such educational institution; charities requesting contributions for the relief of any individual specified by name at the time of the solicitation when all of the contributions collected are turned over to the named beneficiary; nonprofit hospitals and licensed nursing homes; organizations which solicit only within the membership of the organization; churches, synagogues, associations or conventions of churches, religious orders or religious organizations that are an integral part of a church which qualifies as tax exempt under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) and 26 U.S.C. § 6033; any organization that sponsors a single fund-raising event for the benefit of a named charitable organization where all or part of the funds collected are donated to the named charitable organization, provided that the named charitable organization is registered; and any charity that does not employ a professional solicitor or fundraiser and does not intend to solicit and receive and does not actually raise or receive contributions in excess of $ 25,000 during a calendar year. If a charity which did not intend to receive over $ 25,000 does receive in excess of that amount from the public, it must file the annual registration statement within 30 days after contributions exceed that amount.
What Constitutes Solicitation
The Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act defines “solicitation” as “the request or appeal, directly or indirectly, for any contribution on the plea or representation that such contribution will be used for a charitable purpose, including, without limitation, the following methods of requesting such contribution: any oral or written request; any announcement to the press, over the radio or television, or by telephone or telegraph, concerning an appeal or campaign to which the public is requested to make a contribution for any charitable purpose connected therewith; the distribution, circulation, posting or publishing of any handbill, written advertisement or other publication which directly or by implication seeks to obtain public support; or the sale of, offer or attempt to sell, any advertisement, advertising space, subscription, ticket or any service or tangible item in connection with which any appeal is made for any charitable purpose or where the name of any charitable or civic organization is used or referred to in any such appeal as an inducement or reason for making any such sale, or when or where in connection with any such sale, any statement is made that the whole or any part of the proceeds from any such sale will be donated to any charitable purpose.” The law holds that solicitation occurs when the request is made.
Limitations on Solicitation and Required Disclosures
An organization may not solicit funds from the public for any purpose other than that stated in its solicitation materials. All registered organizations must disclose in writing the name of the representative to whom inquiries can be made; the name of the charitable organization; the purpose of the solicitation; upon request of the person solicited, the estimated percentage of the money collected which will be applied to the cost of solicitation and administration and how much will be applied to charitable purposes; and the number of raffle, bingo, or other such state permit use for fundraising.
West Virginia law also requires that every printed solicitation include the following statement: “West Virginia residents may obtain a summary of the registration and financial documents from the Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, West Virginia 25305. Registration does not imply endorsement.”
West Virginia has not adopted the Charleston Principles as a part of its Charitable Solicitation Laws. Generally, an organization will be required to register if its solicitation activities target West Virginia residents.