Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia each require some form of periodic charity registration, which creates a substantial administrative and filing burden for organizations fundraising in multiple jurisdictions. 36 states and DC will accept the Uniform Registration Statement (URS), but that still requires an organization to file the URS with each state’s charity official (typically the Attorney General) and, in 13 jurisdictions, specific supplemental forms.
The Multistate Registration and Filing Portal, Inc. (MRFP), the National Association of State Charities Officials, and the National Association of Attorneys General started development of a Multistate Registration and Filing Portal, to make it easier for nonprofits to register in multiple jurisdictions using a one-stop online portal. According to the Portal’s website:
The portal will maximize efficiency, data transparency, and information sharing by enabling compliance with registration requirements for all participating states without duplication of data entry. It will make the collected data available to the public in a searchable and interactive format. Academics, policy makers and the public will be able to conduct their own inquiries or download data in machine-readable format. Multistate registrants will realize reduced administrative costs and inefficiencies in complying with 39 states’ different registration requirements, allowing more resources to be devoted to charitable mission. Single state filers will avoid the inconvenience and uncertainty of paper filings. Registration service providers will be able to electronically transmit data for multiple clients. State filing fees will be collected and disbursed to states through the Single Portal.
We intend that the system will enable population of data fields from electronically filed Forms 990, thus avoiding further reentry of data. The system will enable regulators to combine 990 data with state registration data. Analytics will enable regulators to better understand charitable resources and solicitations, to better focus law enforcement and fraud prevention resources, and enable better policy making for protection of charitable resources. Electronic filing will allow states to direct limited resources from processing paper to our core regulatory responsibilities of preventing fraud and abuse of charitable funds and solicitations.
On February 17, 2016, MRFP posted a Request for Information (RFI) to invite input and proposals for development of the Portal. The RFI will remain open until April 1, 2016. To allow for additional feedback, MRFP is hosting a conference call on March 15, 2016 open to the public.
5 Likely Implications
- Easier registration process for charities with online capacity.
- Greater enforcement of registration, including use of penalties and sanctions for noncompliant organizations, in all states in which an organization engages in more than minimal fundraising.
- More clarity about the thresholds triggering registration requirements in states other than the charity’s state of formation.
- Growth of charity ratings services and the sophistication of their methodologies.
- Improved use of data and analytics by charities.
New developments in the Single Portal Multi-State Charitable Registration project (National Council of Nonprofits, 1/20/16)