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 annual registration fee and the audit or review requirements, charitable contributions are computed on each form as follows:

  • IRS Form 990: add lines 1(b), 1(c), 1(d), 1(f), 8(a), and 9(a) on Part VIII (page 9). If the organization is a PTA, also add line 10(a).
  • IRS Form 990-EZ: add lines 1, 6(a), and 6(b) on page 1. If the organization is a PTA, also add line 7 (a). If any of the money reported on line 1 of the 990-EZ was received from a government grant or other government money, please notify us of that amount. A government grant or government money is not a charitable contribution.
  • COF-85: add lines 1, 6 (a), and 7 (a) on page 1. If the organization is a PTA, also add 8(a).
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    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 Initial Registration Instructions and form Registration, Freq​uently 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 $25,000 and used a Professional Solicitor definition (Business Regulation Article, §6-101(i)), the organization must submit the documents listed in the Initial Registration I​nstructions and Form​.

    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 Initial Registration Instructions & form must submit information annually to update its registration. An organization must submit the information listed in the Annual​ Update ​of Registration Instructions and form within six months of the end of the organization's fiscal year.

    3. If the organization has not completed its annual registration by the due date and it has a current registration, it is automatically granted an extension until the 15th day of the 11th month after the end of its most recently completed fiscal year. No extension request (IRS Form 8868) is required. Please see the below chart for your extension date. The maximum extension allowed is the same as the maximum extension date for filing your 990 with the IRS.

      Fiscal Year End Registration Due Date (6 months after fiscal year ends) Extension Date (Registration must be submitted by this date)
      January 31st July 31st December 15th
      February 28th August 31st January 15th
      March 31st September 30th February 15th
      April 30th October 31st March 15th
      May 31st November 30th April 15th
      June 30th December 31st May 15th
      July 31st January 31st June 15th
      August 31st February 28th July 15th
      September 30th March 31st August 15th
      October 31st April 30th September 15th
      November 30th May 31st October 15th
      December 31st June 30th November 15th
      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, an Exempt Organization Fund-Raising Notice, completed with updated information and financial information for the most recently completed fiscal year is the only item required to be filed annually. If more than $25,000 was received from charitable contributions in the most recently completed fiscal year, the documents and form in the Initial Re​gistration Instructions and form ​are required.

    4. Exemptions from Registration
    5. 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 written request for religious exemption, along with bylaws, 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 in addition to the right to vote, elect officers, or hold office. 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, the Charitable Organizations Division will contact the requesting organization about the applicability of the exemption.

    6. Unified Registration Statement
    7. 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 37 jurisdictions (36 states and the District of Columbia).

      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 visit the Multi-State Filer Program.

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