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Procedures and Requirements

General Administration and Enforcement Statutes
Charitable Solicitations
Professional Fundraiser Requirements
Registering a Charitable Trust
Estates with Charitable Remainders
Charitable Remainder Trusts
Dissolutions, Mergers, Conversions and Withdrawals
Public Safety Organizations and Their Fundraisers

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Administration and Enforcement of Statutes 

The Charitable Trust Section administers and enforces four Michigan Statutes.  Those statutes regulate:

  • charitable organizations and professional fundraisers that solicit from the public;

  • police and fire organizations that solicit from the public; 

  • organizations and other trustees that hold charitable assets in Michigan; and

  • charitable purpose organizations that are dissolving.

The below sections summarize these statutes and link to relevant registration and licensing forms. 

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Charitable Solicitations 

The Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act, MCL 400.271 et seq., requires an organization to register if it solicits or receives contributions in Michigan.  The Solicitations Act also requires licensing and bonding for professional fundraisers before soliciting, planning, or carrying out a solicitation campaign in Michigan for a charitable organization. 

Exemptions.  The Solicitations Act exempts some organizations from registration.  For details, see MCL 400.283.  For example, the Solicitations Act exempts organizations that raise funds exclusively using volunteers and receive less than $25,000 a year.  Other exemptions include certain educational institutions, certain hospitals, and unpaid solicitations for the benefit of individuals.  If you believe your organization is exempt, confirm this with the Charitable Trust Section by submitting the Request for Exemption

Initial Registration.  If registering for the first time, submit the Initial Solicitation Registration Form and all requested attachments: 

  • Out-of-state corporations must submit copies of their articles of incorporation and all amendments and bylaws; copies must show that they were filed with the appropriate state agency.  Michigan corporations must submit bylaws, if any;

  • Unincorporated entities should submit constitutions, bylaws, or other organizing documents;

  • Organizations with tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should provide a copy of the IRS determination letter;  (For more on obtaining tax exempt status, see the IRS website.)

  • Organizations that have had any financial activity should provide a recent financial accounting.

Alternatively, organizations that solicit in more than one state may file the Unified Registration Statement (URS) that is accepted by many states.  When filing the URS, ensure appropriate responses to state-specific requirements, such as Michigan's resident agent requirement.

Expiration and Renewal.  The charitable solicitation registration must be renewed annually.  Each registration includes its expiration date, which is seven (7) months after the end of the organization's fiscal year.  To renew, the organization should submit a Renewal Solicitation Registration Form at least thirty (30) days prior to the expiration date, along with required attachments.

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Professional Fundraiser Requirements 

Professional fundraisers for charitable organizations must be licensed under the Solicitations Act.  Before soliciting in Michigan, a professional fundraiser must:

Expiration.  The professional fundraiser license expires each year on June 30.  To renew, professional fundraisers should submit an Application before the expiration date, along with a bond continuation certificate. 

Campaign Financial Statements.  Professional fundraisers should also note that a Campaign Financial Statement is due to the Charitable Trust Section ninety (90) days following the end of each campaign; if the campaign is ongoing, the Campaign Financial Statement is due yearly.  This requirement does not apply to professional fundraisers that act solely as consultants.

Individual Solicitors.  Individual solicitors that call donors or solicit door-to-door must also register by filing the Registration of Professional Solicitor form.  Registration is required for each individual solicitor.

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Registering a Charitable Trust 

The Supervision of Trustees for Charitable Purposes Act, MCL 14.251 et seq., mandates that every charitable trust register with the Attorney General.  The term "charitable trust" is broadly defined as every person or legal entity that holds property for a charitable purpose.

Exemptions.  There are exemptions for religious organizations, governmental agencies, educational institutions, amateur theater, band and orchestra organizations, and hospitals.  See MCL 14.253.  To confirm your organization's exemption, submit the Request for Exemption.  

Registration.  There are two ways to register.  First, the Charitable Trust Section automatically registers those charitable organizations that are registered to solicit under the Solicitations Act.  Second, all other entities should submit either the Registration and Inventory Form for Corporations or the Registration and Inventory Form for Trusts.  To maintain a charitable trust registration, organizations must file financial accountings with the Charitable Trust Section within six (6) months of the end of each fiscal year.  To file, send a copy of the IRS accounting, the organization's certified audit, or, if a corporate trustee, an annual financial statement.  For organizations that do not have an accounting already, they may download an IRS 990-EZ from the IRS website.  Or, click here to prepare and e-file a form 990 or 990-EZ to the IRS and Charitable Trust Section.   

Request for waiver.  If a corporation has contributions of less than $8,000 and gross receipts less than $25,000 during their fiscal year and holds assets valued at all times during their fiscal year less than $100,000, it may qualify for a waiver of the financial accounting requirement.  If any questions arise, however, the Attorney General reserves the right to request financial accountings for any years for which the requirement has been waived.

Administrative Rules.  The Rules and Regulations for Charitable Trusts, R14.11 et seq of the Michigan Administrative Code provide additional detail regarding charitable trust registration requirements.

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Estates with Charitable Remainders 

Upon petitioning for probate of a will that includes a residual charitable bequest or creates a charitable trust, an estate must notify the Attorney General. See Section 4(c) of the Supervision Act. The notice should include a copy of the initial petition and a copy of the last will and testament, including any codicil or trust agreement and should be sent to:

Michigan Department of Attorney General
Charitable Trust / Estate Section
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909

Regardless of whether a will is admitted formally by petition or informally by application, upon appointment of the personal representative or probate of the will, the Attorney General is an interested person for all wills that include a residual charitable bequest or that create a charitable trust. As an interested person, the Attorney General should be given all required notices.

If a trust with a charitable interest is to continue after probate proceedings are completed, the trust will most likely need to register as a charitable trust. See the above section "Registering a Charitable Trust." Also, if a living trust has been established naming a charity as a remainder interest, the trust must notify the Attorney General upon distribution of the charitable assets.
 

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Charitable Remainder Trusts 

In general, charitable remainder trusts that lack a current charitable interest need not register or report under the Supervision Act. See MCL 14.253(c). There is an exception for certain trusts.  Irrevocable trusts that lack a current charitable interest remain subject to the Act's registration and reporting requirements if either is true:

  • The selection of a charitable remainder beneficiary is still under the control of the grantor, testator, executor, trustee, or members of the grantor's or testator's family (that is, where the grantor retains the power to alter the charitable beneficiaries of the trust); or

  • A charitable remainder beneficiary itself is under the control of the grantor, testator, executor, trustee, or members of the grantor's or testator's family (such as when the charitable remainder beneficiary is a family foundation [MCL 14.253(c)]

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Dissolutions, Mergers, Conversions, and Withdrawals 

Dissolution.  The Dissolution of Charitable Purpose Corporations Act, MCL 450.251, et seq., provides that charitable purpose organizations, except for religious organizations, shall not be dissolved without obtaining approval from the Attorney General.  To obtain approval, dissolving organizations must submit a properly completed Dissolution Questionnaire with all requested attachments to the Charitable Trust Section.  If approved, the Charitable Trust Section will provide a letter stating that the Attorney General does not object to the dissolution.  This letter may then be submitted to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) with the Certificate of Dissolution.  If an organization believes it is not a charitable purpose corporation, or if it is an ecclesiastical corporation, the organization need only submit a letter stating its intention to dissolve; the letter should include either the full corporate name and corporate I.D. number or a copy of the articles of incorporation.

Mergers and Conversions.  Since mergers and conversions involve the possible demise of an organization holding charitable assets or the transfer of charitable assets, the Charitable Trust Section also reviews those transactions.  For charitable asset sales, such as when a nonprofit sells its assets to a for-profit, see our Charitable Asset Sale Review Process.  For mergers, conversions, and withdrawals, the Charitable Trust Section generally requires the following. 

For Mergers: 

  • A letter explaining the transaction;

  • A copy of the merger agreement;

  • A copy of the plan of merger;

  • Articles of incorporation on the non-survivor, if no previous file with the Attorney General;  and

  • IRS returns and financial statements, if any, for the two most recent years on the non-survivor if not already on file with the Attorney General.

If the survivor is a Michigan charitable organization that has not previously filed with the Charitable Trust Section, it should review the Request for Exemption form to determine if it is exempt from the registration requirements administered by this office.  If so, it should file the Request for Exemption form.  If not, the survivor should file the necessary registration forms.
 
For Conversions:

  • An explanation of why the organization incorporated as a nonprofit and why it will be converted to a for profit;

  • Current IRS status;

  • IRS returns for the last three years;

  • Audits for the past three years, if prepared;

  • Articles of incorporation, if not already on file with the Attorney General.

For Withdrawals:

Notice must also be provided to the Attorney General if a nonprofit charitable purpose corporation with authority to conduct affairs in Michigan intends to withdraw from the state. The following is generally requested to allow an adequate review of these situations:

  • A letter telling why the certificate of authority was necessary and why it is no longer necessary;

  • An inventory of all assets held in Michigan and their disposition upon withdrawal of the corporation;

  • The most recent financial statements and/or IRS return;

  • Articles of incorporation if not already filed with the Attorney General. 

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Public Safety Organizations and Their Fundraisers 

Registration.  The Public Safety Solicitation Act, MCL 14.301 et seq., regulates the many police and fire organizations that solicit from the public.  Most of these organizations are not charitable organizations and thus are not subject to the Solicitations Act, discussed above.  Section 2(d) of the Public Safety Solicitation Act defines a public safety organization.  Section 3 specifies the registration requirement, which must occur before any solicitations.  To register, the organization must complete the Public Safety Organization Registration Form and submit it to the Charitable Trust Section.

Expiration and Renewal.  The public safety registration expires each year, six (6) months after the end of the organization's fiscal year.  To renew, the organization should submit a Public Safety Organization Registration Form before expiration.

Public Safety Professional Fundraisers.  The Public Safety Solicitation Act also mandates the registration and bonding of all professional fundraisers soliciting for public safety organizations.  Registration of fundraisers is also required before soliciting.  To register, the fundraiser must properly complete and submit a Public Safety Professional Fundraiser Registration Form.  For the first year of solicitations in Michigan the fundraiser must obtain a $25,000 bond which must be submitted on the Uniform Public Safety Professional Fundraiser Surety Bond (Initial) form, along with a power of attorney form signed by the surety.  After the first year of registration, the amount of the bond will be determined by contributions collected by the fundraiser the previous year as defined in section 4(8) of the Public Safety Solicitation Act.  Renewal must include a properly completed Uniform Public Safety Professional Fundraiser Surety Bond (Renewal) form.

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Related Content
 •  Charitable Giving For Donors
 •  Charitable Solicitations in Michigan
 •  Resources for Charities
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