Most charities rely on donations from the public to accomplish their goals. Some charities raise funds on their own, while others hire professionals to raise funds on their behalf. Contributions may only be solicited by or on behalf of a charitable organization registered with the AGO. All professional fundraisers must be registered with the AGO prior to engaging in business in the Commonwealth.

Professional fundraiser filings are public record. Some of the fundraiser forms (Forms 10A, 10B, 11A, and 11B) that have been filed by professional fundraisers are now available online. To access these documents, please go to the "Public Charities Annual Filings" and search using the name of the charity. Additionally, each year, the AGO releases a report on professional solicitations in Massachusetts that outlines the financial results of fundraising campaigns conducted in Massachusetts. Recent reports are available online here.

 

Filing Requirements

Professional solicitors, fundraising counsel, and commercial co-venturers must register with the AGO prior to engaging in any fundraising activities in the Commonwealth. Registrations expire on December 31 and must be renewed annually by January.

Professional Solicitor

An individual or business hired by a charitable organization to conduct a fundraising campaign on the charity's behalf, or by a non-charity to conduct a fundraising campaign that includes a charitable appeal. See M. G. L. c. 68, s. 18. If an individual or business is working as a subcontractor for another registered fundraiser, that individual or business must separately register with the Division as a fundraiser. A professional solicitor must file the following:

  1. Registration Statement: Form 10 (RTF) rtf format of Form10.rtf
;
  2. $25,000 bond: Form 9 (RTF) rtf format of Form9.rtf
;
  3. Filing fee of $1,000, made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
  4. A copy of each fundraising contract along with Form 10A (RTF) rtf format of Form10A.rtf
, Registration Addendum (to be filed with registration or within 10 days or signing and prior to the commencement of any solicitation); and
  5. Form 11A rtf format of Form11A.rtf
Professional Solicitor’s Annual Financial Report: This form is to be filed for each Form 10A filed, and covers the financial activity for a single calendar year. It is due by February 28 of the year following the reporting year.

Professional solicitors conducting multiple campaigns need only file one Form 9, Form 10, and filing fee for the calendar year. Separate Forms 10A, contracts, and Forms 11A must be filed for each campaign conducted.

Professional solicitors should ensure that the charities for whom they are soliciting are registered and in possession of a valid Certificate for Solicitation prior to commencing solicitations. If the charity in question is not required to register with the Division (for example, because it is exempted by the statute), no Form 10A/contract/Form 11A is required for this campaign.

Fundraising Counsel

An individual or business retained by a charity to advise the charity on conducting of fundraising campaigns. See M. G. L. c. 68, s. 18. Fundraising counsels do not conduct solicitation themselves, nor do they ever have custody or control of contributed funds. A fundraising counsel must file the following:

  1. Registration Statement: Form 10 (RTF) rtf format of Form10.rtf
;
  2. Filing fee of $400, made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and
  3. A copy of each fundraising contract (to be filed with registration or within 10 days of signing).

Commercial Co-venturer

An individual or business, which for profit or other commercial consideration, advertises that an event or sale to the public of a good or service will benefit, to any extent, a charitable purpose. See M. G. L. c. 68, s. 18. A commercial co-venturer must file the following:

  1. Registration Statement: Form 10 (RTF) rtf format of Form10.rtf
;
  2. $25,000 bond: Form 9 (RTF) rtf format of Form9.rtf
;
  3. Filing fee of $200, made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
  4. A copy of each fundraising contract along with Form 10B (RTF) rtf format of Form10B.rtf
(to be filed with registration or within 10 days of signing and prior to the commencement of any co-venturing activity); and
  5. Form 11B rtf format of Form11B.rtf
Commercial Co-Venturer’s Annual Financial Report: This form is to be filed for each Form 10B filed, and covers the financial activity for a single calendar year. It is due by February 28 of the year following the reporting year.

Commercial co-venturers conducting multiple campaigns need only file one Form 9, Form 10, and filing fee for the calendar year. Separate Forms 10B, contracts, and Forms 11B must be filed for each campaign conducted.

Commercial co-venturers should ensure that the charities for whom they are conducting campaigns are registered and in possession of a valid Certificate for Solicitation prior to commencing co-venturing activities. If the charity in question is not required to register with the Division (for example, because it is exempted by the statute), no Form 10B/contract/Form 11B is required for this campaign.

Unfair or Deceptive Practices

The following are examples of unfair and/or deceptive practices undertaken by professional fundraisers:

  • Failing to disclose professional fundraiser status or misrepresenting that the solicitation is being made by a member of the charitable organization or impersonating a member of a charitable organization, either explicitly or implicitly.
  • Failing to disclose the full name and address of the charitable organization or using a "sound a like charity" to deceive the donor. Dropping words such as "Association" or "Union" from a charity's name may be deemed a deceptive practice. For example, a solicitor calling on behalf of "XYZ Police" may lead potential donors to believe that they are being solicited by the "XYZ Police Department," when in fact they are being solicited by the "XYZ Police Association."
  • Misrepresenting that donated funds will be used for charitable purposes when in fact they will not be.
  • Misrepresenting the percentage of the funds raised that will be used for charitable purposes. If asked, a fundraiser must accurately disclose the percentage of funds that will go to the charity. Telling a potential donor that all proceeds go to the charity is deceptive unless 100 percent of the money raised will go to the charity.
  • Misrepresenting that donated funds will be used locally when in fact they will not be. When a solicitor tells a potential donor that the call is being made from a local address or organization, the donor will usually assume that the money raised will be used locally. This is why the law requires disclosing the accurate name and address of the charitable organization on whose behalf the money is being raised.
  • Using the name of a charitable organization without proper written authorization from the charity.
  • Misrepresenting that certain organizations endorse the fundraising campaign, or will receive funds from the campaign.
  • Leading people to believe that because a charitable organization is registered with the AGO, it is legitimate.
  • Creating a charity as a fundraising vehicle for the professional fundraiser.
  • Misusing charitable funds for private benefit.
  • Using coercive tactics to pressure donors to contribute quickly.
  • Soliciting using a charitable appeal for an organization that has not properly registered with the AGO.

In enforcing against unfair and/or deceptive practices, the AGO is authorized to obtain injunctions, financial penalties, permanent bans, and, in cases of criminal law violations, imprisonment of responsible individuals. Click the link for an example of an inquiry pdf format of Bee Settlement
conducted by the AGO.