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Florida Enacts Tighter Regulations on Charities and Fundraisers

July 10, 2014 Posted by Jessica Shofler in Accountability, Conflict of Interest, Fundraising, News, Nonprofits

RevisionsDo you remember when, in April, we told you that Florida’s lawmakers were concerned that 11 of the 50 worst charities were based in Florida. Now they are following through on their promise to do something about it.

Last month Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a comprehensive revision of the state’s charitable solicitation law. The aim of the law is to “prevent the misuse of Floridians’ charitable contributions by deterring fraudulent and deceptive organizations from soliciting contributions in [the] state.” Lawmakers also hope the new law will help Floridians make more informed decisions about the organizations to which they donate.

Among the new provisions are these more unique requirements:

  • Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the Department is tasked with governing Florida charities) may deny or revoke the registration of a charity or a fundraiser, if it, or any of its officers, directors, or trustees, has had the right to solicit contributions revoked in any state or been ordered by a court or governmental agency to cease soliciting contributions in any state.
  • Any charity that solicits contributions in or from Florida residents must adopt a conflict of interest policy, which must require annual certification of compliance with the policy by all directors, officers, and trustees of the charity. A copy of the annual certification must be submitted to the Department with its annual registration statement.
  • A charity that has more than $1 million in total revenue and spends less than 25% of it on program service costs must complete an additional Department form, including the dollar amount and percentage of total revenue allocated to employees, fundraising, travel expenses, overhead, and charitable programs. The form must also detail any transactions with insiders (e.g., directors and officers).
  • Most charities that solicit contributions for specific disaster or crisis relief and receive at least $50,000 in contributions in response must file quarterly disaster relief financial statements detailing the contributions received based on the solicitations and how the contributions were spent.

Charity regulators across the country will be watching to see how effective these new provisions are. Would you like to see your state’s legislature adopt similar laws?