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Professional Fundraisers and Solicitors

The Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act gives the Secretary of State the authority to regulate charitable organizations and professional fundraisers. All professional fundraisers which intend to assist charitable organizations in the solicitation of contributions must register with the Secretary of State’s Office on an annual basis. 

To view the full text of the Act, please click on the link below:

“South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act” (§33-56-10 et seq.)
 
 
Below are frequently asked questions with answers to assist professional fundraisers with compliance issues:

Who are considered professional fundraisers?

Professional fundraisers can fall under three specific types:

(1) "Professional solicitor" means a person that, for monetary consideration, solicits contributions for or on behalf of a charitable organization, either personally or through its agents, servants, or employees who are specially employed by or for a charitable organization and who are engaged in the solicitation of contributions under the direction of that person. "Professional solicitor" also means a person that plans, conducts, manages, carries on, advises, or acts as a consultant to a charitable organization in connection with the solicitation of contributions but does not qualify as "professional fundraising counsel" within the meaning of this chapter. A bona fide salaried officer, unpaid director, a bona fide employee of a charitable organization, or a part-time student employee of an educational institution is not a professional solicitor. A paid director or employee is not a professional solicitor unless his salary or other compensation is paid as a commission computed on the basis of funds actually raised or to be raised.

(2) "Professional fundraising counsel" means a person that for compensation plans, conducts, manages, prepares materials for, advises, or acts as a consultant, directly or indirectly, in connection with soliciting contributions for or on behalf of a charitable organization, but that actually does not solicit contributions as a part of these services. A bona fide salaried officer or employee of a charitable organization maintaining a permanent establishment within this State, or the bona fide salaried officer or employee of a parent organization certified as tax exempt, is not a professional fundraising counsel.

(3) "Commercial co-venturer" means a person that regularly and primarily engages in trade or commerce for profit that, for the benefit of a charitable organization, may raise funds by advertising that the purchase or use of goods, services, entertainment, or other thing of value benefits the charitable organization, if it is offered at a price comparable to similar goods or services in the market.

What statutory requirements must a professional solicitor comply with?

1) Annual Registration

Professional solicitors must file a Registration Application for a Professional Solicitor with the Secretary of State’s Office on an annual basis. A registration fee of $50 must be included with the form. The registration process must be completed prior to any solicitation activity.

2) Registration of Individual Solicitors

Every individual solicitor working for a professional solicitor company must also register with the Secretary of State’s Office on an annual basis. For example, if a professional solicitor company has ten individual telemarketers, the ten individual telemarketers, in addition to the company should be registered with the Secretary of State’s Office. The individual solicitor should submit a Registration Application for an Individual Professional Solicitor with a $50 registration fee.

3) Solicitor’s Bond

Professional solicitors must file a surety bond in the amount of $15,000 before any solicitation activity occurs. A deposit of cash in the amount of $15,000 may be accepted instead of the bond. The professional solicitor must file either the Professional Solicitor’s Bond Form or the Professional Solicitor’s Cash Bond Form with the Secretary of State’s Office at the same time the registration form is filed.

4) Notice of Solicitation Forms and Contracts

Professional solicitors must file Notice of Solicitation Forms and contracts they have with all charitable organizations. These should be filed at least ten days prior to any solicitation activity. There is no fee associated with this filing.

5) Joint Financial Reports

Professional solicitors must submit a Joint Financial Report for a campaign within 90 days after a solicitation campaign has ended. In the result that a campaign runs for more than one year, the financial report is to be submitted within 90 days after the anniversary of the campaign. There is no fee associated with this filing.

What statutory requirements must a professional fundraising counsel comply with?

1) Annual Registration

Professional fundraising counsel must file a Registration Application for a Professional Fundraising Counsel with the Secretary of State’s Office on an annual basis. A registration fee of $50 must be included with the form. The registration process must be completed prior to any solicitation activity.

2) Notice of Solicitation Forms and Contracts

Professional fundraising counsel must file Notice of Solicitation Forms and contracts they have with all charitable organizations. These should be filed at least ten days prior to any solicitation activity. There is no fee associated with this filing.

What statutory requirements must a commercial co-venturer comply with?

Notice of Solicitation Forms and Contracts

Commercial co-venturers must file Notice of Solicitation Forms and contracts they have with all charitable organizations. These should be filed at least ten days prior to any solicitation activity. There is no fee associated with this filing.

Does the Secretary of State have the authority to assess administrative fines against professional fundraisers?

Yes. If a professional fundraiser solicits contributions for a charitable organization without being registered, submits false information to the Secretary of State, is delinquent in filing any type of form or document or violates any other provision of the “Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act,” the Secretary of State may assess an administrative fine of up to $2,000 for each separate violation. It is extremely important that professional fundraisers submit all forms and documents in a timely manner to avoid the assessment of administrative fines.

Can the Secretary of State’s Office investigate professional fundraisers?

Yes. Pursuant to statute, upon his motion or upon complaint of any person, the Secretary may investigate professional fundraisers.

 All documents and correspondence should be mailed to:     

                       SC Secretary of State's Office
                       1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
                       Columbia, SC 29201. 

Telephone inquiries may be directed to (803) 734-1790.

To obtain the forms for Professional Fundraisers, follow the link below:
Professional Fundraisers