Rules for Fundraisers for Non-Profit Organizations in Florida

By Holly Cameron

Nonprofit organizations carry out different activities to raise funds for their individual charitable or social purposes. These organizations should be aware of the relevant state laws and regulations that govern fundraisers. To protect the public from unscrupulous groups, most states – including Florida -- require charitable organizations to register with a state department before they solicit funds from either the public or businesses. Nonprofits that carry out gaming activities to raise funds must comply with Florida charitable gaming laws.

Registration

The Florida Solicitation of Contributions Act regulates fundraising in the state. Nonprofit organizations that intend to solicit donations from the public should register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on an annual basis. Certain organizations are exempt from this requirement, including religious institutions, state agencies and professional fundraising consultants. Every nonprofit registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services should submit an annual report, together with a filing fee. Fees range from $10 to $400, depending on the value of the funds raised in the preceding year.

Raffles

Florida laws categorize raffles as "drawings by chance" and allow nonprofit organizations to conduct raffles, provided they comply with strict disclosure laws. Fundraisers may not charge for raffle tickets, although they may suggest a minimum donation. In addition, Florida rules do not allow them to cancel the raffle or refuse to give out the advertised prizes.

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Casino Nights

Fundraisers who host casino nights must comply with the laws set out in Section 849.0935 of the Florida statutes. Rules state that all brochures, tickets and other advertising materials should disclose the name of the fundraising organization, the rules of the games and the source of funds used to award prizes. Nonprofit organizations may not charge a fee for entry but can suggest a minimum contribution.

Bingo

Section 849.0931 of the Florida statutes allows charitable or nonprofit organizations to conduct bingo games, provided that they donate the entire proceeds – less business expenses – for the charitable or social purposes of the organization. The jackpot should not exceed $250 in value and the law does not permit any more than three jackpots per session of bingo. No one under the age of 18 may play bingo or be involved in the conduct of any game.

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Laws on Nonprofit Silent Auctions
 

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State Statute of Florida on Raffles & Charities

Fundraising is critical to the success of charities and other nonprofits. Games of chance, such as lotteries and raffles, can be an easy way to entice potential donors by offering the prospect of winning a prize. However, most lotteries and raffles are considered gambling and are illegal in Florida. But, the state has carved out an exception for qualifying nonprofits, provided specific rules are followed and no fees are required to participate. Even with this exception, however, nonprofit organizations must still comply with all state and federal laws governing the solicitation of funds.

Requirements to Have a Raffle in Pennsylvania

Raffles are considered a form of gambling in Pennsylvania. This classification applies to all games that require a fee to enter and include the possibility of winning a prize by random selection. However, the state does permit certain organizations to hold raffles, so long as a license is first obtained and all proceeds are used to further a charitable purpose. The process is governed by the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act of 1988, which contains specific registration, operating and reporting requirements.

IRS Filing Rules for 501(c)(5)

Section 501(c)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code provides a tax exemption for labor, agricultural and horticultural organizations. This exemption is awarded to organizations whose primary purpose is to improve the conditions of those engaged in labor, agriculture or horticulture, or improve the products or efficiency in these areas. In order to be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(5), the organization must take a number of steps to demonstrate its exempt purpose.

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