Enhancements to Florida’s Request of Funds Law Now Effective – Non profit organizations Are In Possession Of Tighter Rules

As a result of the Tampa Bay Occasions investigative story, “America’s Worst Non profit organizations,” Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, labored using the Florida Legislature to enact material enhancements to Florida’s Request of Funds laws (Chapter 496 – HB 629). Any charitable organization that’s susceptible to registration using the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the Department), including not-for-profit hospitals along with other not-for-profit medical service providers which solicit charitable contributions, is influenced and will have to review and implement the brand new needs that grew to become effective This summer 1, 2014.

Among the changes are the following:

  • The standard disclosure requirement, which is a statutory requirement that applies to all charities registered with the Department, must now include the Department’s website.
  • If the solicitation is on the internet, each page may include the disclosure, and the disclosure must include the charity’s phone number or address.
  • No officer, trustee, or director who has been convicted of a felony may solicit funds. We note that this is not a pleasant question to ask, but a necessary one.
  • Each charity that is registered with the Department must adopt a Conflict of Interest Policy, and each officer, director, or trustee must certify compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy each year. The certification must be submitted with the annual registration. The required Conflict of Interest Policy is very specific and should be reviewed closely in order to meet compliance. It appears the IRS model conflict policy will not satisfy the law.
  • The professional solicitor rules have been greatly enhanced.
  • There are “collection receptacle” (donation drop box) disclosure requirements, for those who collect donations.
  • A disaster relief charity that has registered with the Department for four or fewer years and raises more than $50,000 must comply with substantial additional reporting requirements.
  • There are new financial reporting requirements for charities who receive contributions of more $500,000. For charities with contributions less than $500,000, there is no apparent change.

While they are just the high points from the enhancements, each not-for-profit doctor that boosts funds in Florida must evaluate the new legal needs carefully or risk finding yourself in breach of these.  Every not-for-profit doctor that registers using the Department is potentially influenced through the amendments and really should seek proper legal counsel to look for the most suitable approach to enter into compliance.