Charity Registration Checklist

If your nonprofit is planning to actively engage in public fundraising, you’ll need to register the nonprofit as a charity in most states before you begin soliciting donations. Below, you’ll find a checklist of everything you need to do to make sure the job is done right. 

Ready. Set. Game Plan.

Before you begin filling out your charity registration application, you’ll want to know and have several things prepared ahead of time. In what ways will your nonprofit approach solicitation? Do you have a prepared financial history of your nonprofit organization? Will you be hiring professional solicitors? These are all questions to which you’ll want to know the answers, and have copies of the paperwork ready to go.

Also, before you go through all of this checklist’s required footwork, be aware that the following states do not require charity registration: Indiana, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.


Each state that requires charity registration has its own form you can file with the state attorney general’s office or corresponding government agency. Here are the typical things you’ll need to include along with your registration application:

  • A copy of the IRS’ determination letter for tax exempt status, if applicable.
  • A copy of your nonprofit corporation’s articles of incorporation
  • A copy of your nonprofit corporation’s bylaws.
  • A copy of your nonprofit’s most recent tax filing.
  • Often if your total yearly revenue is more than $500,000, you’ll also need an audit performed by an independent accountant.
  • Copies of any contracts with paid solicitors, co-venturers, or fund-raising counsel.
  • Registration fee, if required.

If you will be registering as a charity in multiple states, you may want to consider filing a Unified Registration Statement. This form is considered a universal form which can be filed in place of the state’s required form in all but three states: Colorado, Florida, and Oklahoma.


Once you’ve filed your registration statement with the state, you’ll need to wait to receive confirmation from the state as to your charity’s status. For most states, the wait time is one to two weeks; however, in states like Massachusetts, you’ll likely be waiting for a month or two before you receive official confirmation.

Keep your records

Once you receive confirmation from the state, you’ll want to file it away and keep it, as well as a copy of your application, as a reference point. Charity registrations need to be renewed annually, so be aware of your renewal deadlines.

Once you’ve completed the checklist, you’re ready to hit the streets and start knocking on doors for donations to help support your cause. The life of a nonprofit organization is rarely an easy one, but with luck and hard work it certainly can be a rewarding one. Best wishes!  


About the Author

Drake Forester, Chief Legal Strategiest - Northwest Registered AgentDrake Forester is the chief legal strategist at Northwest Registered Agent, LLC. Throughout his career, Drake has researched many complicated nonprofit compliance issues and provided whitepaper and publications for many leading nonprofit organizations in the United States.