Registering as a Charitable Organization

There are nonprofit organizations operating in Pennsylvania that must register with Pennsylvania Department of State's Bureau of Charitable Organizations and file annual reports. The determination of whether an AVO must register is essentially made based upon not being a type of organization specifically exempted from the requirement per two Acts of legislation: the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act or the Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act.

Those groups exempt from registration on the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act include: an organization that does not hire and pay a person to solicit contributions and receives less than $25,000 of contributions in a year; volunteer fire and ambulance companies and auxiliaries; organizations of individuals who protect the public safety (police, firefighters, emergency management personnel, etc.); religious institutions and such separate groups or corporations which form an integral part of religious institutions; educational institutions; groups that operate directly under the supervision of education institutions; parent/teacher organizations; hospitals; hospital foundations; nonprofit libraries; and active living centers. The complete list with additional information can be found in the PA Department of State's Exclusions and Exemptions Chart. If the AVO is not included in this list, it must file a Charitable Organization Registration Statement PA form BCO-10 for its most recently completed fiscal year within 30 days of receiving more than $25,000 in gross national contributions or prior to compensating someone to solicit contributions from Pennsylvania residents. Complete information on filing this form, the filing fees required that range from $15 to $250, and other associated solicitation of funds reporting requirements can be found on the PA Department of State's Information for Charitable Organizations Web page.

An AVO that is exempt from filing a Charitable Organization Registration Statement may still be required to file an annual Institutions of Purely Public Charity Registration Statement unless it is exempted as one of two types of organizations: religious institutions and such separate groups or corporations which form an integral part of a religious institution and are exempt from filing an annual IRS 990 Return; or institutions of purely public charity which receive contributions of less than $25,000 per year provided that the institution's program service revenue does not equal or exceed $5,000,000.

Next: Applying to the IRS for Tax-Exempt Status

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