John P. McDonough, Secretary of State    

Registering a Charity


Under the Maryland Solicitations Act, a charitable organization soliciting in Maryland generally must file documents with the Office of the Secretary of State. Registration is required prior to the commencement of solicitations. The type of registration required depends upon the level of charitable contributions received by a charitable organization.

For purposes of determining the registration fee and the audit or review requirement, charitable contributions are computed by adding lines 1(b), 1(c), 1(d), 1(f), 8(a) and 9(a) of Part VIII (page 9) on the IRS Form 990 or by adding lines 1 and 6(a), 6(b) of IRS Form 990 EZ. For Parent Teacher Association (PTA's), add lines 1(b), 1(c), 1(d), 1(f), 8(a), 9(a) and 10(a) of Part VIII (page 9) on IRS Form 990 or lines 1 and 6(a), 6(b) and 7(a) on IRS Form 990 EZ. If completing the COF-85 form, charitable contributions are computed by adding lines 1(a), 1(b) and 9(a), except Parent Teacher Association (PTA's), add lines 1(a), 1(b), 9(a), and 10(a).

Private Foundations Affiliated with State Agencies:
Private foundations affiliated with a Maryland State agency (click here) for further information.

  1. Initial Registration

    An organization which received in the most recently completed fiscal year more than $25,000 in direct support from the public, private foundations, and corporate grants and gross revenue from special fundraising events must submit the documents described in the Registration, Frequently Asked Questions & Checklist. These documents include information about the finances and administration of the organization.

    If an organization received in the most recently completed fiscal year less than $25,000 in direct support from the public, private foundations, and corporate grants and gross revenue from special fundraising events, the Exempt Organization Fund-Raising Notice is the only form required. There is no registration fee for organizations receiving less than $25,000 in contributions. If, however, the organization raised less than the $25,000 requirement and used a professional solicitor (definition at ยง6-101(i)), the organization must submit the documents listed in the Registration, Frequently Asked Questions & Checklist.

  2. Annual Update of Registration

    Because the Maryland Solicitations Act requires that certain information be filed annually, an organization which has previously submitted the documents listed in the Registration Instructions & Checklist must submit information each year to renew its registration. An organization must submit the information listed in the Annual Update Instructions within six months of the end of the organization's fiscal year.

    A charitable organization that fails to submit the information necessary to renew its registration will be subject to a late fee. The late fee will be $25 per month or part of a month and will be in addition to the registration fee required with the renewal information.

    An organization which submitted an Exempt Organization Fund-Raising Notice is also required to submit information annually. If the organization continues to receive less than $25,000 in the most recently completed fiscal year, the Renewal Exempt Organization Fund-Raising Notice is the only required form. If more than $25,000 was received from charitable contributions in the most recently completed fiscal year, the documents listed in the Registration, Frequently Asked Questions & Checklist are required.
     

  3. Exemptions from Registration

    Certain organizations are exempt from registering under the Maryland Solicitations Act. Generally, only religious organizations, organizations affiliated with religious organizations, and organizations soliciting contributions only from its membership are eligible for an exemption from the registration requirements of the Act.

    If an organization is a religious organization or a organization affiliated with a religious organization, it may be exempt from the requirements of the Act. To request an exemption on religious grounds, please submit a copy of the IRS tax determination letter designating the organization as tax exempt, the organization's articles of incorporation, and other information explaining the mission of the organization.

    An organization soliciting contributions only from its members may qualify for an exemption from the registration requirements. To qualify for this exemption, a member must be conferred some benefit and have the right to hold office or vote for office in the organization. To request a membership exemption, please submit a copy of the organization's by-laws showing the rights of the members and a statement explaining from whom solicitations for contributions are made.

    An organization claiming an exemption must provide evidence of its exemption. Upon receipt of these documents, this Charitable Organizations Division will contact the requesting organization about the applicability of the exemption.
     

  4. Unified Registration Statement

    The Office of the Secretary of State is a participant in version 2.0 (and higher) of the Unified Registration Statement (URS), an ongoing project of the National Association of Attorneys General and the National Association of State Charities Officials. The URS is a consolidation of the information and data required by thirty-three of the thirty-eight states participating in the project.

    The benefit of the URS is that an organization soliciting regionally or nationally can complete the URS and then submit copies of the statement along with the required supplemental information to the states in which the organization is soliciting. The filing of the URS is an alternative to submitting the states' individual forms and reduces the duplicity inherent in completing different forms requesting similar information.

    To obtain a copy of the most recent version of the URS and the accompanying instructions, please contact the Multi-State Filer Program, 1612 K Street, N.W., #510, Washington DC 20006-2802.