Charities and Fundraisers FAQs

Contents
Account Management
Contract Elements Required by Law
Definitions
Disclosure Requirements
Donors and Consumers
eFiling and Other Filing Questions
Fees and Payment
Filing Notice Schedule
Public benefit corporations & benefit corporations
Registration

 

Donors and Consumers

Q1.  How can I tell if an organization or paid solicitor is registered?

A1.  You can check to see if an organization or paid solicitor is registered by searching our website.

If no records are found, it means that the organization or paid solicitor is not registered.

 

Q2.  Can I view or print out verification that an organization is registered and in good standing?

A2.  Yes.To view an organization's status:

  • Search for the group by name, federal employer identification number (FEIN), or registration number.
  • The page will show a list of results. Click on the registration number to view a record.
  • The next page will be the organization's summary page. Look for "Registration Status" to see the current status.

To print a Certificate of Registration:

  • Search for the group by name, federal employer identification number (FEIN), or registration number.
  • The page will show a list of results. Click on the registration number to view a record.
  • The next page will be the summary page for the organization that you chose. At the bottom of the page, click on "Certificate of Registration".
  • The certificate will open as an embedded PDF file that can be printed or saved.
  • If the PDF is not visible on the View Registration Certificate page, look for a link to "Click here to open it in a separate window" near the top of the page. This will open the PDF in a new window.

If an organization's status is listed as "suspended", it can't solicit contributions.

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Q3.  I was asked to contribute to a fund for a specific individual or family. How do I make sure it's legitimate?

A3.  Appeals for money that will benefit a specific individual or family are considered private gifts, not charitable donations, and are not covered by the Colorado Charitable Solicitations Act. As a result, neither the person making the appeal nor the person on whose behalf the appeal is made are required to register with us. These types of contributions are also not tax-deductible, even if they are made to a qualified charitable organization.You should ask if there is a trust or deposit account set up for the the individual or family. You can contact the banking institution to verify the existence of the account and check with local sources of information to confirm that there really is a need for such donations.When you decide to contribute to an individual or family, do not give cash. Write a check that is payable to the fund, not to an individual.

 

Q4.  How do I research a charity that is registered with your office?

A4.  When researching a charity, you can start by reviewing their regulatory filings and financial statements. Charities in Colorado must register and file a state financial form with our office each year.To find information about a charity on our website:

    • Search for the charity by name, federal employer identification number (FEIN), or registration number.
    • If you search by name, you will see a list of possible matches. Click on a registration number to view a record.
    • The next page will be the organization's summary page. You will find recent information about revenue and expenses on this page, as well as links to view the charity's Form 990 or their filing history with our office.

Federal regulations require charities to provide copies of their IRS Form 990 and Form 1023 (their original IRS tax-exempt application) upon request.Reputable charities will also gladly send you copies of their annual reports and annual financial statements, if they have them. Annual reports provide valuable information about an organization's goals and accomplishments. Larger charities will have audited financial statements, in which case you can read the auditor's opinion and notes. Use all of this information to assess an organization's effectiveness and accomplishments.

 

Q5.  What additional resources are available for researching a charity?

A5.  There are several resources to help you find more information about a charity.

    • The Internal Revenue Service lists charities qualified to accept tax-deductible contributions in its Publication 78.
    • There is an excellent article written by Peter Swords, former Executive Director of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee, entitled "How to Read the New IRS Form 990".  It is a clearly written guide based on the 2010 version of the federal "long form" for charities.

Finally, you may want to read the Donor Bill of Rights, which was developed by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Giving Institute.

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