Under the Maryland Solicitations Act, entities that assist a charitable organization in fundraising efforts for compensation are also generally required to register annually with the Charitable Organizations Division. Maryland law defines and provides different registration requirements depending upon the nature of the services provided by the entity.
How to Register as a Professional Solicitor or a Fund-Raising Counsel
A Fund-Raising Counsel definition under Business Regulation Article, §6-101(h) is a person who is compensated for advising a charity about a solicitation in Maryland or holding, planning, or managing a solicitation in Maryland. The Fund-Raising Counsel is prohibited from directly soliciting or receiving charitable contributions.
- Application to Register as a Fund-Raising Counsel
Fund-Raising Counsel are required to register prior to providing services to a charitable organization. Registration includes the submission of an application to register as a Fund-Raising Counsel, a registration fee of $250.00 payable to the Secretary of State, and copies of all current fund-raising agreements. If a Fund-Raising Counsel does not have any current fund-raising contracts, a sample contract should be submitted with the application to register.
In order for the application to register and registration fee to cover all officers and employees, the Fund-Raising Counsel must submit the names of each current officer and employee working in fund-raising. The names of new officers and employees must be submitted within ten days after the individual begins employment.
- Submission of Fund-Raising Agreements
A Fund-Raising Counsel is required to submit a copy of each fund-raising agreement by the tenth day after the agreement is made or the start of the charitable solicitation, whichever is earlier. Business Regulation Article, §6-615 requires that all agreements between Fund-Raising Counsel and charitable organizations include the names and addresses of the parties, the services to be provided, the number of persons to be involved in providing the services, the time when the services are to be provided, and the method and formula for compensation. Additionally, a Fund-Raising Counsel is prohibited from receiving compensation based upon a percentage of the contributions received as a result of the services provided.
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A Professional Solicitor is a person who is compensated for advising a charity about a charitable solicitation, holding, planning, or managing a solicitation in Maryland, or soliciting or receiving contributions for a charitable organization. The solicitation or receipt of contributions is the distinction between a fund-raising counsel and Professional Solicitor.
- Application to Register
Professional Solicitors are required to register prior to soliciting in Maryland or receiving contributions from Maryland. Registration includes the submission of an application to register as a Professional Solicitor, a surety bond, a registration fee of $350.00 payable to the Secretary of State, and if applicable, accounting reports. Also, a Professional Solicitor submitting its initial application is required to submit a sample fund-raising agreement if the solicitor does not currently have any agreements.
Business Regulation Article, §6-303 requires that each Professional Solicitor submit to the Charitable Organizations Division a surety bond . The bond must be for $25,000 and run to the State of Maryland. In lieu of the surety bond, the Act authorizes the submission of a $25,000 irrevocable letter of credit. The solicitor must have either a surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit in force as long as the registration is in effect.
In order for the application to register, registration fee, and surety bond to cover all officers, employees, and associate solicitors, the Professional Solicitor must submit the names of each current officer, associate solicitor, and employee working in fund-raising. The names of new officers, associate solicitors, and employees must be submitted within ten days after the individual begins employment.
- Accounting Reports
Professional Solicitors are also generally required to submit final and interim accounting reports. These reports account for funds received and disbursed during certain time periods of the fund-raising campaign. Although the same accounting report form is used for both interim and final reports, the solicitor should check the appropriate box on the form to indicate whether the accounting report is a final or interim report.
A final accounting report is required within three months after the end of the fund-raising campaign and must account for all funds received and disbursed during the entire fund-raising campaign. Both the Professional Solicitor and authorized representative of the charity must sign and certify the accounting report.
Interim accounting reports must be submitted with an application to register as a Professional Solicitor for each on-going fund-raising campaign. The interim report accounts for all funds received and disbursed from the beginning of the campaign through a date within three months before the solicitor's current registration expires. Like the final report, the interim accounting report must be signed and certified by the solicitor and authorized representative of the charity.
- Submission of Fund-raising Notices and Fund-raising Agreements
Prior to starting a solicitation, a Professional Solicitor is required under Business Regulation Article, §6-502 to submit a fund-raising notice for each fund- raising campaign. The notice requests information concerning the type of fund-raising method to be used and the dates of the solicitation.
In addition to completing the fund-raising notice, a solicitor is required to submit with the notice a copy of the fund-raising agreement. Business Regulation Article, §6-616 requires that agreements between Professional Solicitors and charities include the names and addresses of the parties, the minimum percentage of the gross receipts from the solicitations that will be used by the charity exclusively to advance its charitable purpose, and the text used in each solicitation.
In addition to submitting a copy of any fund-raising agreements between a solicitor and a charity, the solicitor is also required to submit copies of any subcontracts or other contracts in furtherance of the agreement between the charity and solicitor. This includes the submission of caging agreements, generally defined as an agreement between a solicitor or charity and a person engaged to receive or hold contributions resulting from an agreement between a charity and solicitor.
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Public Safety Solicitor
Effective October 1, 2000, individuals raising money on behalf of public safety organizations are required to register and disclose certain information. Business Regulation Article, §6-101(1) defines a Public Safety Solicitor as a person who, for pay, solicits or receives public safety contributions, personally or through another.
- Application to Register
A person is prohibited from acting as a Public Safety Solicitor unless the person has applied to register with the Secretary of State. Registration includes the submission of an application to register as a Public Safety Solicitor, a surety bond, a copy of the fund-raising agreement, and an application fee of $100 that must accompany every application. A seperate application must be filed for each Public Safety organization with which the Public Safety Solicitor contracts.
Business Regulation Article, §6-5A-03 requires that each Public Safety Solicitor submit to the Charitable Organizations Division a surety bond. The bond must be for $25,000 and run to the State of Maryland. In lieu of the surety bond, the Act authorizes the submission of a $25,000 irrevocable letter of credit. A Public Safety Solicitor with a current registration shall not be required to execute and submit an additional bond or irrevocable letter of credit for each public safety organization on whose behalf they solicit, provided that a separate application is submitted for each organization.
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