If you answered either “no” or “what disclosures?”, you are not alone. Many organizations are either not aware of the requirement to include a disclosure statement in their solicitations or have not recently reviewed their disclosures. Be warned, however, that it is important to understand the state laws that require organizations to provide potential donors with certain information at the point of solicitation as failure to comply could result in financial penalties or other state enforcement action.
Many states require charitable organizations and professional fundraisers to include a disclosure statement in both oral and written solicitations. In written solicitation materials, the requirements include verbatim language. The purpose of the requirement is to direct potential donors to an independent place, typically a state agency responsible for regulating non-profits, where they can obtain additional information about the soliciting organization.
Even a request for a donation made on a webpage or in an email is considered a form of written solicitation and must contain state-required disclosure language. Some states require that the disclosure statement be placed on webpages that contain certain information or be displayed with particular formatting. In general, the disclosure statement must be included with all written solicitation materials; when in electronic format, such as webpages or emails, the requirement may be satisfied with a link to a page containing the full disclosure statement.
Luckily, there is collateral benefit to complying with the state disclosure law. Since a solicitation e-mail includes a web link to the disclosure, it encourages the potential donor to visit your site, where he or she can learn more about your organization and perhaps will make an online donation!
It’s a good idea to periodically review all of your written solicitation materials, including your website, to consider whether they comply with these requirements. More information about specific requirements and template language may be found on our Charts & Resources webpage.