Today’s post comes to us thanks to Ify Aduba of Harbour Compliance. If your organization raises money online (and you probably do), this piece will help you be sure you’re in compliance with the law.
You’ve taken the time to revisit your case for support and have identified bold, new fundraising strategies for your organization to employ.
Unpredictable times often conjure anxiety. Instead, let’s make sure we use all the tools in our toolbox. In the words of Mary Cahalane, pay attention to the needs of your donors while also maintaining acquisition efforts. Be sure your online systems are working well. And don’t forget – fundraising compliance.
Your online strategy engages donors and makes the most of your relationships, boosting annual giving and catalyzing major gifts.
You’ve honed your cultivation efforts, capturing the hearts, minds, and giving spirits of your donors so that they not only invest in your annual fund but also make a multi-year commitment to your capital campaign.
You’re talking about your mission, building on the clarity of your vision, and launching cost-effective strategies for making all of this happen online.
Being compliant helps instill confidence in your donors so their focus stays on your mission.
Why does fundraising compliance matter for 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 you have built or are building 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 spreading the word about your impact every way they know how – posting on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Your donors’ networks have become your network, spreading your message and expanding your outreach. You’ve made it easy for donors to give from wherever they are and online giving for your organization is on the rise.
Online giving requires online fundraising compliance. Donate Now… that’s a solicitation.
It’s reasonable to wonder where you need to register. In short – anywhere you ask! It’s not just about where you are; it’s about where you’re asking. Are you casting a wide net, asking everyone you’ve connected with on 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.
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 Suzy talked about your work or Friend Joey 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’re going to build the relationship and ask again… and now you’re soliciting. Determine if you’re soliciting in a state and make sure you’re meeting all of the necessary requirements.
Perhaps you’ve already been fundraising and need to do some analysis to figure out where your gifts are coming from. Capitalize on your fundraising database. A great fundraising strategy has top quality data as its foundation. That data plays a key role in the success of the campaign and, ultimately, the organization’s mission. As you map out your plan for your online fundraising, don’t overlook the value and importance of your database. Turn to those data records to know where your donors are and where you absolutely must be registered.
What are some best practices? Let’s keep it simple. There are four key steps to remember if you want to stay on track.
- Research: You need to know your status in each state. Once you know that, you can easily map out your path to compliance, including which applications to complete and what fees may be charged.
- Apply: Each state has its own application process, so make sure you are preparing the correct forms in the most streamlined and cost-effective manner.
- Monitor: As with any other submission you make, you’ll want to follow these applications through to approval, for your – and your donors – peace of mind.
- Renew: Mark your calendar so that once you’re compliant, you stay compliant. Track due dates and fees so that your renewals are on time and complete.
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, you 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 also honoring your valuable and desperately finite time.
Take the good-faith step of investing in compliance.
Harbor Compliance can help you with all of your fundraising compliance needs. As requirements become increasingly complex, they can present significant challenges to organizations of all types and sizes. Ensure your fundraising compliance needs are met so that you can focus on strategies and success.
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 and over 25 countries abroad 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 of 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.