Legal & finance tips for divisions
From time to time divisions ask APA about the possibility of raising funds through online donations, solicitations, direct mailings, etc. APA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization and as such an organization, there are a variety of restrictions and considerations APA must take into account before engaging in any such solicitation.
In recent years, many states have enacted stricter rules regarding the solicitation for monies for charities. Accordingly, state attorneys general have been more aggressive in enforcing these laws and pursuing organizations that do not comply. Each state has individual laws governing such solicitations, and each has different requirements for organizational registration, fees and procedures. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all process for registering.
Requests for financial support to individuals — whether they are members or not — raise significant legal concerns. APA is subject to state laws governing charitable solicitation. Because APA is not registered in the states as a charitable solicitor, it is not permitted to solicit individuals for charitable contributions.
APA (and therefore divisions) cannot raise money for or give money to activities other than those that advance the charitable mission of the organization. Thus it is important to determine ahead of time who is sponsoring the event or program, and what its purpose is. An event put on by APA to support an APA program would presumably meet this requirement. However, an event APA wishes to support that is put on by another organization may not. Other organizations, including organizations affiliated with APA, like the APAPO and SPTAs, have different rules governing the activities they may engage in. While an activity may be completely appropriate for the organization sponsoring it, it may not be something that APA can appropriately support financially. For instance:
- An event or program run by another 501(c)(3) organization is likely to be acceptable for APA financial support.
- An event or program put on by a 501(c)(6), like the APAPO or an SPTA, may or may not be appropriate for APA financial support, depending on the event. The purpose of the event/program must be evaluated by the Office of General Counsel.
- APA cannot engage in or fund any political activity.
To feasibly and legally solicit contributions, APA would need to register in all states every year. This is an extremely burdensome and expensive proposition, and APA has decided not to incur the expense and administrative burden of this registration. Absent such registration across the country, APA may not solicit individuals or corporate entities that are not tax exempt. Soliciting over electronic mailing lists, websites, mass emails, direct mail letters, targeted donor letters or requests to individuals attending conferences or meetings are all considered solicitation of individuals. APA is not permitted to solicit individuals for charitable donations, and therefore none of these methods are legally permissible.
APA's Central Office can provide division leaders with finance or legal support. For additional questions, contact:
- Finance questions: Jennifer Aldridge or Holly Flynn.
- Legal/contract questions: Jesse Raben.