The Georgia Charitable Solicitations Act of 1988, as amended, regulates the solicitation and collection of charitable contributions in Georgia. Unless exempted by provisions of this Act, paid solicitors that solicit contributions from the public for charitable purposes are required to register with the Secretary of State, and to disclose financial information and other facts relating to the paid solicitor. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3. The Act allows the Secretary of State to take action against those persons and firms who violate its provisions. The following information is a general overview of the Act. Additional information may be obtained by securing a copy of the Act or contacting the Securities and Business Regulation division.
Paid Solicitor [O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3]:
A paid solicitor must be registered with the Securities and Business Regulation Division before soliciting funds for a charitable purpose in or from Georgia on behalf of a charitable organization. A paid solicitor is any person other than a commercial coventurer who, for compensation, performs for a charitable organization any service in connection with contributions that are solicited within or from Georgia. A paid solicitor also includes any fund raising counsel who at any time has custody of contributions from a solicitation. A bona fide salaried officer, employee, or volunteer of a charitable organization is not considered to be a paid solicitor with respect to contributions solicited for that charitable organization. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-2.
Initial Registration: To register as a paid solicitor in Georgia, one must complete the following: (1) submit a Paid Solicitor Registration (Form S-100); and (2) submit registration fee of $250.00. If the paid solicitor will have physical possession or legal control over any contributions collected by it in or from this state on behalf of any charitable organization must complete Paid Solicitor Bond (Form S-100D).
Renewal of Registration: The initial registration expires on December 31st of each year and may be renewed for additional one-year periods by filing Form S101, a renewal fee of $100.00 and if applicable, a current bond and financial statement.
Bond Requirements: Paid solicitors which have physical possession or legal control over any contributions that it collects must attach to the paid solicitor application a $10,000.00 surety bond payable to the State of Georgia. In lieu of a surety bond, the Secretary of State will accept a certificate of deposit or irrevocable letter of credit evidencing a deposit with a financial institution in the amount of $10,000.00 payable to the applicant and assigned to the Secretary of State. Such deposits shall be held for the benefit of all persons to whom the applicant is liable for damages for a period of two years after the applicant's registration has expired or been revoked. The deposit is held at the expense of the applicant and shall not be released except upon application to and the written order of the Secretary of State. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-4.
Financial Statements: If the paid solicitor will have physical possession or legal control over any contributions collected by it in or from this state, the applicant shall attach to the application for registration as a paid solicitor a financial statement for the fiscal year of the applicant which ended within one year prior to the date of filing unless the fiscal year of the applicant has ended within 90 days prior to the date of filing, in which case the financial statement may be dated as of the end of the fiscal year preceding such last fiscal year. Such financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles
Solicitor Agent [O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3.1]
A solicitor agent must be registered in Georgia before soliciting funds in or from Georgia on behalf of a charitable organization. A solicitor agent is any person, other than a paid solicitor or commercial coventurer, who or which solicits charitable contributions for compensation. A solicitor agent shall register with the Secretary of State prior to engaging in any solicitation. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-2.
Initial Registration: To register as a solicitor agent in Georgia one must complete and file Paid Solicitor Agent Registration (Form SA-1). The initial registration fee is $50.00.
Renewal of Registration: The initial registration expires on December 31st of each year and may be renewed for additional one-year periods. The renewal fee is $50.00.
Definitions [O.C.G.A. § 43-17-2]:
(a) solicit such contributions or employ, procure, engage, direct or supervise any compensated person to solicit contributions, or
(b) have custody or control of contributions
A natural person who is a volunteer, employee, or salaried officer of a charitable organization is not a fundraising counsel with respect to the charitable organization of which he or she is a volunteer, individual, or officer.
The paid solicitor is required to maintain for three years records of each solicitation campaign. These records must be available to the Secretary of State for inspection. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3(i) (1) and Georgia Regulation 590-9-2-.04.
Prior to the commencement of each solicitation campaign, the paid solicitor must file with the Secretary of State a solicitation notice (Solicitation Notice (Form S-200)), a $15.00 filing fee, and a copy of the contract, which states the respective obligations of the paid solicitor and charitable organization and which states the amount of compensation that the paid solicitor will receive. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3(f).
Within 90 days after a solicitation campaign ends and on the anniversary of the beginning of a campaign that lasts more than a year, the paid solicitor must account to the charitable organization and the Secretary of State, for all contributions collected and expenses paid. The accounting will be made in the form of a written report, submitted to the charitable organization and to the Secretary of State. (Form S300) See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3(g).
Each monetary contribution received by the paid solicitor shall, in its entirety and within three business days, be deposited in an account at a federally insured financial institution. The account shall be in the name of the charitable organization with whom the paid solicitor has contracted, and the charitable organization shall have sole control of all withdrawals from the account. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3(h).
Any paid solicitor who willfully violates the Act may have penalties assessed to the paid solicitor by the Secretary of State in the amount of $2,500.00 for a single violation or up to $25,000.00 for multiple violations. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-13. Any person who willfully defrauds, misappropriates, converts, illegally withholds or fails to account for any charitable contributions solicited by, or on behalf of any charitable organization shall be guilty of a felony. Upon conviction the paid solicitor shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both. See O.C.G.A. § 43-17-23.
The above listing includes forms available online, but is not an all-inclusive listing of forms required for registration or renewal. Please refer to O.C.G.A. § 43-17-3, 43-17-3.1, 43-17-4, 43-17-3(f), 43-17-3(g), and Georgia Regulation 590-9-2-.01 through 590-9-2-.09.
Please note: The Securities Division posts this material for the convenience of its users. This material does not necessarily include all of the information and forms relevant for the filing, registration or renewal of entities or products regulated by the Securities Division. A user of the information and forms provided on this Web page should review applicable Georgia law in order to determine whether the user is in compliance with the various filing, registration or renewal requirements. The information contained in this website does not constitute legal advice. The Secretary of State encourages all interested individuals to consult their own attorneys should they have questions regarding legal interpretations of Georgia statutes or regulations.