Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ > Professional Solicitor and Fundraising Counsel FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions


Answers

As a registered professional solicitor, are there rules or specific requirements I must abide by when I solicit donations from Ohio citizens?
Yes. Prior to requesting a contribution verbally or when requesting a contribution in writing, the professional solicitor must clearly disclose to the potential donor the name of the professional solicitor as it appears on file with the attorney general and that the solicitation is being conducted by the person as a professional solicitor. The professional solicitor must also disclose the name and address of the charitable organization as it appears on file with the attorney general. If a potential donor asks how much of their money will be retained by the charity, a professional solicitor must inform them the percentage of the gross revenue from a campaign promised to the charity according to the contract between the professional solicitor and a charity. Most importantly, professional solicitors should not at any time mislead, deceive, or misrepresent any information to the potential donor in order to obtain a donation.

As a registered professional solicitor, is there a financial report that I must file with the Attorney General’s Office for each solicitation campaign?
Yes.  All professional solicitors must submit a solicitation campaign financial report for each solicitation campaign showing the gross revenue generated during the reporting period, the amount of expenses, net proceeds, and amount retained by the charity.

As a registered professional solicitor, should I maintain records of my solicitation activities?

Yes. During each solicitation campaign and for not less than three years after its completion, the professional solicitor must maintain records of its solicitation activities including, but not limited to:

  • The name, and if known, the address and telephone number of each contributor and the date and amount of the contribution
  • The name and home address of each employee, agent and any other person who is involved in the solicitation, the amount of compensation paid to each and the dates on which the payments were made
  • A record of all contributions that at any time are in the custody of the professional solicitor
  • A record of all expenses incurred by the professional solicitor and for which the professional solicitor is liable
  • A record of all expenses incurred by the professional solicitor and for which the charitable organization is liable
  • The location of each bank or financial institution in which the professional solicitor has deposited revenue from the solicitation campaign and the account number of each account in which the deposits were made
  • A copy of each pitch sheet or solicitation script used during the solicitation campaign
  • Any other record of such information as the Attorney General may require


As a registering professional solicitor or fundraising counsel, can I submit a letter of credit or continuation certificate in lieu of a surety bond?
No.  Ohio law requires a surety bond in the amount of $25,000. The surety bond must be submitted on the Attorney General-prescribed form because it contains language binding the registrant to requirements specific to the State of Ohio.

Do employees of a charity need to register as professional solicitors?
No. Employees who perform duties for the charity on a routine basis and are on the payroll of the charity do not need to register separately as professional solicitors. Only independent parties who are contracted by the charity to perform charitable solicitations on their behalf must register with the Charitable Law section as professional solicitors.


Do professional solicitors and fundraising counsel need to have an EIN to register?
Generally, businesses need an EIN. If the professional solicitor or fundraising counsel has employees, operates its business as a corporation or partnership, is involved with certain trusts, estates or nonprofit organizations, files Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms taxes, withholds taxes on income other than wages paid to a non-resident alien, or has a Keogh plan, an EIN is more than likely required by the IRS.


Do you ever allow professional solicitors or fundraising counsels to submit bond riders with registration?
The only time our office accepts bond riders is if it is a rider to a larger blanket liability bond.  Larger blanket liability bonds are usually for a much higher amount and are issued for reasons unrelated to registration as a professional solicitor-such as for houses, cars, etc. The rider to this larger blanket bond would need to be very specific in order to meet our bonding requirements for your registration as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel.


Does a fundraising counsel have to file campaign financial reports with your office?
A fundraising counsel must report to the charity all contributions collected and expenses within 90 days of completion of campaigns lasting one year or less. For campaigns longer than one year, fundraising counsel must file annual reports with the charity on the campaign start date anniversary and a closing report within 90 days of campaign completion for any figures not covered in previous reports.  A copy of the report must be filed with the Attorney General not later than seven days after it is furnished to the charitable organization. The fundraising counsel may use the Attorney General’s solicitation campaign financial report form or its own accounting report.


How do I get an EIN? Who do I contact if I have further questions?
To obtain an EIN, to check if you need an EIN, or to obtain further EIN-related information call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 or go to the following IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Employer-ID-Numbers-EINs

I need to register as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel, and I need to obtain a surety bond. How do I know how and where to obtain a bond?
Contact your insurance company first and ask if they issue surety bonds. Let them know that you need a surety bond to register as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel with the Attorney General’s Office. The bond must be issued by a surety authorized to do business in the state of Ohio. To find out which sureties qualify, contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 and ask to speak to the Property & Casualty Unit. Be prepared to provide the name of the bonding agent. Once you have selected a surety, explain to them that you wish to register as a professional solicitor with the Ohio Attorney General’s office and must obtain a $25,000 bond with your company as the principal obligor. Most of these companies have issued such bonds many times and already know what must be done.

I want to register as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel. Where do I send my $200 registration fee once I’ve submitted my registration online?
Upon submitting your online registration application you will be able to pay the $200 registration fee online by credit card or electronic check. 

I’m a registered professional solicitor and I need to file a solicitation notice before I begin a charitable campaign. What is a solicitation notice and where can I obtain a blank copy?
All registered professional solicitors must file a completed solicitation notice to the Charitable Law section prior to commencement of any solicitation campaign. A solicitation notice identifies the charitable organization, the start and end date of the solicitation campaign, solicitation methods, and percentage of gross revenue the charitable organization is guaranteed to retain as a result of the campaign, among other information. A written contract stating the respective obligations of the professional solicitor and charitable organization must accompany the solicitation notice.  All professional solicitor forms, including the solicitation notice, are available on our website at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/ProfessionalSolicitorRegistration.

I’m a registered professional solicitor. Can I file my solicitation notices and financial reports online like I did my registration?
Filing solicitation notices and solicitation campaign financial reports online is currently not an option. We hope to have that convenience available to all of our registrants soon. However, filings must be emailed to ProfessionalSolicitor@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov

I’m a registered professional solicitor. I didn’t solicit or raise any money during my solicitation campaign. Do I still have to file a solicitation campaign financial report?
Yes. You would still need to file a campaign financial report with our office certifying that you did not solicit or raise any money.


I’m a registered professional solicitor. When and how often must I file solicitation campaign financial reports with your office?
It depends on the length of your solicitation campaign. The solicitation campaign dates are determined by the dates the professional solicitor provides in question #8 of the solicitation notice. For solicitation campaigns lasting one year or less, only one closing financial report is due within 90 days of completion of the campaign. For solicitation campaigns lasting more than one year, annual financial reports must be filed on the anniversary of the start date of the campaign and a final report must be filed within 90 days of campaign completion for any figures not covered in previous reports. A financial report form is available on our website.



If a charitable organization hires me to advise them on fundraising, but I don’t solicit charitable donations from the public, do I need to register?
Firms that advise or serve as consultants only are known as fund-raising counsel.   You would need to register as a fund-raising counsel only if you will collect or at any time have custody of contributions from a solicitation that is being conducted by a professional solicitor or charitable organization.


If a charitable organization hires me to request charitable donations on its behalf, do I need to register?
If you are hired by a charitable organization not as a regular employee but as an outside contractor to solicit charitable donations on its behalf and you will be compensated for your services, you must register with the Charitable Law section as a Professional Solicitor each year. Individuals who are regular employees or serve as volunteer fundraisers for a charity do not need to register as professional solicitors.


If I register as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel late in the registration period, is my registration fee pro-rated?
No. All professional solicitor and fundraising counsel registrations expire every year on March 31st.  Regardless of when you register, you still must pay the full $200 registration fee.


Is there a statute that I must follow in order to conduct charitable solicitations in Ohio?
Yes. Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1716 governs charitable solicitations in Ohio.


Must professional solicitors and fundraising counsels register with the Ohio Secretary of State?
Anyone planning to do business within the State of Ohio, using a name other than their own personal name, must register with the Ohio Secretary of State.  Sole proprietorships are not required to register with the SOS. This applies to companies in Ohio and companies in other states or countries wishing to do business in the State of Ohio.  To check if you need to register or for any questions relating to registration with the Secretary of State, call 1-877-644-6889 or check the SOS website at: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/.


Once I am registered as a professional solicitor, can I begin soliciting?
No. Before a registered solicitor begins raising funds for a charity, it is strongly encouraged that the solicitor contact the Charitable Law section first to check the charity’s registration status. Once you have confirmed that the charity is properly registered or is exempt from registration, you will need to file a Solicitation Notice. Solicitors can also use the Research Charities function on the webpage to learn if a charity is in compliance with its registration status.


Once I submit my registration as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel, how will I know when my registration application has been approved?
The professional solicitation registrar will contact you if additional information is needed and will inform you when the registration process is complete.


Once I’m registered as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel, how long is my registration good for?
Your registration is good for a year, or part of a year, depending on when you register. All professional solicitor and fundraising counsel registrations expire every year on March 31st.

What do I need to do to register as a fundraising counsel?
You would only need to register if you collect or at any time have custody of charitable donations that were raised from a solicitation for a charitable organization, regardless of whether the solicitation is carried out by the organization itself or by a professional solicitor.  If you need to register, you will need to complete the online fundraising counsel registration form at http://ProfessionalSolicitor.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov, obtain a $25,000 surety bond, pay a registration fee of $200 and submit these materials online to the Charitable Law section.
 

What do I need to do to register as a professional solicitor?
You will need to complete the online professional solicitor registration form at http://ProfessionalSolicitor.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov, obtain a $25,000 surety bond, pay a registration fee of $200 and submit these materials to the Charitable Law section.
 

What does the Attorney General’s Office do with the information that is filed in campaign financial reports?
The Attorney General’s Office publishes an annual report, Charitable Fundraising by Professional Solicitors, that is made available to the public. This report highlights the charities that hire professional solicitors to conduct charitable solicitation campaigns, the gross revenue generated from these campaigns and the amount of the gross revenue retained by the charities. The report is a public record. 

What happens if a charitable organization, professional solicitor or fundraising counsel does not file required documents or violates any provisions set forth in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1716?
Violating any requirements set forth in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1716 could lead to penalties imposed by the Attorney General’s Office and prohibiting the organization from raising funds in Ohio. A court may order an injunction, restitution, or an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of investigation and litigation, and may award to the state a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation. The Federal Trade Commission also has jurisdiction over solicitation issues and may pursue action.  Additionally, local law enforcement may pursue criminal charges for activities involving theft or fraud.


What is a fundraising counsel?
A fundraising counsel is a firm or individual that is hired by a charity to plan, manage, advise, consult, or prepare material for the solicitation of contributions for any charitable organization. A fundraising counsel does not solicit contributions or employ, procure, or otherwise engage any compensated person to solicit contributions.

What is a professional solicitor?
A professional solicitor is any person, group, or other entity that, for compensation, requests donations of money, property, financial assistance or any other thing of value with the representation that the donations, or a portion of the donations, will benefit a charitable organization or will be used for a charitable purpose.

What is a surety bond?

Each professional solicitor and fundraising counsel that registers with the Charitable Law section must submit a surety bond as part of its registration every year.  The surety bond is a contract among at least three parties:   

  • The principal (the professional solicitor or fundraising counsel) - the primary party who will be performing a contractual obligation
  • The obligee (the State of Ohio) – the party who is the recipient of the obligation
  • The surety – who ensures that the principal’s obligations will be performed


What is an EIN?
EIN is an acronym for Employer Identification Number, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. This nine digit number is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service and is used to identify tax accounts of businesses and certain others that do not have employees.


What is the definition of “solicit”?
An oral or written request, directly or indirectly, for money, property, financial assistance, or other thing of value, with the representation that the donations, or a portion of the donations, will be used for a charitable purpose or will benefit a charitable organization.  Solicitation also includes, but is not limited to, selling or attempting to sell advertisement, advertising space, membership, admission, sponsorship or any other tangible item while making an appeal for any charitable organization or charitable purpose, or when the name of any charitable organization is used or referred to in any such appeal. 


What is the difference between a professional solicitor and fundraising counsel? How do I know which definition I fall under?
The difference is that a fundraising counsel consults, advises, plans, manages, and prepares materials for a charity. It does not perform any solicitations on behalf of a charity in the form of oral or written requests. A fundraising counsel may not make an announcement to the public regarding a charitable campaign and it may not distribute written advertisements that directly or indirectly seek to obtain any contributions. A fundraising counsel also does not sell or offer to sell any tangible item with which an appeal is made for any charitable organization or purpose.


When and how often must I register as a professional solicitor or fundraising counsel?
All professional solicitors and only those fundraising counsel that collect or at any time have custody of charitable contributions must register each year. The annual registration period runs from April 1st through March 31st. Please submit your registration materials at least two weeks prior to the March 31st deadline to allow the registrar sufficient time to process the materials. Be certain that the period of coverage under the bond matches the entire registration period. 


Where do I find registration forms and the surety bond form for professional solicitors and fundraising counsels?
You may complete the forms online here.

Who can I contact if I have more specific questions regarding professional solicitors or fundraising counsels?
If you have any questions concerning professional solicitors or fundraising consulting, you may call the Ohio Attorney General Call Center toll-free at 800-282-0515 and request to speak to the Professional Solicitation Registrar in the Charitable Law Section.    Or you can e-mail your questions to ProfessionalSolicitor@ohioattorneygeneral.gov.

Why must professional solicitors and fundraising counsels be bonded?
This is a statutory requirement to ensure that professional solicitors and fundraising counsels properly fulfill their obligations to the charity they represent and to the State of Ohio. When professional solicitors or fundraising counsel fail to follow statutory requirements, the State can make a claim against the bond.