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Charity, Professional Fundraiser, and Public Safety Organizations

  • Registration is typically required for all 501(c)(3) organizations that solicit or receive contributions in excess of $25,000 from Michigan per year. However, if an organization pays anyone, whether an employee of the organization or an outside contractor, for fundraising services, the charity needs to be registered even if it solicits or receives less than $25,000.

    There are exemptions for some types of organizations. For example, churches, approved Michigan schools, and veterans' organizations chartered by the federal government, are exempt. The first step for a charity in determining whether it needs to register is to fill out the Request for Exemption Form available on the Charitable Trust's page. The Request for Exemption Form indicates whether additional information or other forms are necessary.

  • Registration will be required if the organization receives over $25,000 in donations because Section 3 of the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act includes the receipt of donations.

  • As long as the organization has submitted a complete and accurate registration statement, the registration is effective on the date the registration statement is received by the Attorney General. While you may not receive written confirmation of your registration for several weeks, you can check your filing status online.

    Within a few days of receipt of your registration statement, your registration status online will be listed as "pending." It will remain as "pending" until your registration (or license in the case of a professional fundraiser) confirmation is sent to you. Unless you have received a letter from our office asking for missing or inaccurate information, you may solicit while in pending status.

  • The registration will expire one year and seven months after the end date of the financial report filed with your last registration form. The expiration date will be noted on your registration confirmation. At least thirty days prior to the expiration date on your registration confirmation, the organization must file a renewal form.

  • The organization may have a 5 month extension. The request for an extension must be made in writing and received before the expiration date of your current registration.

  • Registration is required for any entity holding charitable assets in Michigan. This includes private foundations, charities, and trusts. Whenever a charity accepts a donation, it is held in trust for the purpose for which it was solicited or received. Michigan organizations which obtain a solicitation license are automatically registered as charitable trusts and don't need to complete separate forms.

  • Registration with the Attorney General to solicit under the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act, or under the Supervision of Trustees for Charitable Purposes Act, is not sufficient to run this type of fundraising. You must also get a license from the Michigan Lottery's Charitable Gaming Division. You can obtain information on the Lottery's Charitable Gaming website or call 517-335-5780. Allow at least 8 weeks for application processing.

  • All Michigan nonprofits must obtain the Attorney General's approval, or our letter stating that approval is not necessary, before submitting a Certificate of Dissolution to the Corporation Division of the Bureau of Commercial Services, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. 

    To obtain approval, a charitable organization should submit the Dissolution Questionnaire and the required attachments to the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section. 

    If the organization is a non-charitable nonprofit or religious organization, it should submit a letter to the Attorney General's office explaining that the organization is dissolving and provide a copy of the organization's articles of incorporation. 

    Mergers are considered similar to dissolutions because at least one entity will cease to exist. However, the Dissolution Questionnaire is not necessary for these transactions. Charitable organizations wishing to merge or convert should send the Charitable Trust Section a complete explanation regarding the proposed transaction with supporting documentation such as articles of incorporation, plans of merger, and IRS returns and financial statements.

    Similarly, Attorney General approval is required if a Michigan nonprofit corporation wishes to convert to a for-profit corporation. The organization should write to the Charitable Trust Section with an explanation regarding why they were incorporated as a nonprofit and now wish to convert. The organization should also explain its IRS status and provide copies of its last three IRS returns and audited financial statements, if prepared.

    An out-of-state nonprofit corporation seeking to file a Certificate of Withdrawal should write to the Charitable Trust Section to explain its request. The letter should include an explanation of why the organization was required to have a certificate of authority, why it is no longer needed, and whether it held assets in Michigan. Supporting documentation such as articles of incorporation and IRS returns should also be provided.

  • Michigan's Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act, defines a professional fundraiser as:

    "…a person who plans, conducts, manages, or carries on a drive or campaign of soliciting contributions for or on behalf of a charitable organization, religious organization, or any other person in exchange for compensation or other consideration; or who engages in the business of or holds himself out as independently engaged in the business of soliciting contributions for such purposes…." MCL 400.272(f).

    This includes consultants who help plan or manage a campaign as well as those entities that do phone or mail solicitation. It also includes any employee of the organization who is paid on the basis of the amount of funds raised. The term also includes anyone other than a charitable organization who owns or operates a clothing donation box if it is represented that the clothing or its proceeds will be donated to a charitable organization. 

    Professional fundraisers must be licensed and bonded in Michigan. MCL 400.287.

    If you have any questions about whether you need to be licensed as a professional fundraiser, contact the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section at 517-335-7571.

    You may verify the license of a professional fundraiser online.

  • A public safety organization means any group, organization, association, union or conference of current or former law enforcement officers, firefighters, correctional officers, employees thereof, or other affiliated or associated entity that meet both of the following:

    1. The voting membership is comprised of at least 75% of individuals who are currently or formerly law enforcement officers, firefighters, or correctional officers.
    2. The voting membership consists of at least 25% of all of the individuals the organization claims to represent.

    These organizations are required to register under the Public Safety Solicitation Act, MCL 14.301 et seq.

  • Forms are available online or by contacting the Charitable Trust Section at 517-335-7571.