by Richard Keyt, Arizona charitable organization attorney
Arizona law requires that all charitable organizations register with the Arizona Secretary of State before the organization solicits its first dollar. If your nonprofit charitable organization does business in or operates in Arizona, but it does not solicit donations then this law does not apply. However, if your Arizona nonprofit charity intends to solicit funds within Arizona make sure it registers with the Arizona Secretary of State before it solicits any funds.
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 44-6552.A states:
“before soliciting its first contribution, whether through a contracted fund raiser or otherwise, a charitable organization shall file a registration statement with the secretary of state”
This is a very important Arizona law that affects all charities that solicit money from Arizona residents. The failure to comply with this registration law is a crime. Arizona Revised Statues Section 44-6561.B states “a person who fails to register or provide reports as provided by this article or who otherwise fails to comply with any provision of this article is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.” Members of the board of directors of Arizona nonprofit corporations who fail to cause their corporation to register with the Arizona Secretary of State have breached their fiduciary duty to the corporation and can be liable for civil damages in addition to being charged with a misdemeanor.
Question: When Must an Arizona Nonprofit Corporation File Its Registration with the Arizona Secretary of State?
Answer: Before the charitable organization solicits its first penny from a donor who resides in Arizona. See “How to Register as a Charitable Organization with the Arizona Secretary of State.”
Annual Reports Charities Must File with the Arizona Secretary of State
Arizona charitable organizations that solicit money must file an annual registration statement with the Arizona Secretary of State between September 1 and September 30 of each year following the calendar year in which the charitable organization filed its initial registration statement. If the Internal Revenue Service ruled that the charitable organization is exempt from federal income taxes pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code at the time of its initial registration, the organization must submit to the Arizona Secretary of State a copy of the internal revenue service’s written determination that it is exempt from taxes.
How to Register a Nonprofit Organization with the Arizona Secretary of State
Registering a nonprofit corporation with the Arizona Secretary of State is relatively simple. The charity must complete the Secretary of State’s Charitable Organization Registration Form. There is no filing fee, but the form must be signed by two officers of the corporation and notarized. The officers affirm that the information in the form is true and correct. The form also requires nonprofit corporations that were in existence during the prior year to submit a financial statement along with the form.