This handout is a summary of the requirements for registration of a charitable organization in the State of Tennessee.

First here are some terms definitions.

What is a charitable organization?

“Charitable organization” means a group which is or holds itself out to be a benevolent, educational, voluntary health, philanthropic, humane, patriotic, religious or eleemosynary organization, or for the benefit of law enforcement personnel, firefighters, or other persons who protect the public safety, or any person who solicits or obtains contributions solicited from the public for charitable purposes. “Charitable  Organization” does not include any authorized individual who solicits, by authority of the organization, solely on behalf of a registered or exempt organization, or on behalf of an organization excluded from the definition of charitable organization.

What is a contribution?

“Contribution" means the promise or grant of any money or property of any kind or value, including the payment or promise to pay in consideration of a sale, performance or show of any kind which is advertised or offered in conjunction with the name of any charity.

“Contribution” does not include bona fide fees, dues or assessments paid by members, provided that membership is not conferred solely as consideration for making a contribution in response to a solicitation. See T.C.A. §48-­‐101-­‐501(2).

What is a solicitation?

"Solicit" or "solicitation" means any oral or written request, however communicated, whether directly or indirectly, for a contribution. See T.C.A. §48-­‐101-­‐501(10).

It would be difficult for us to include all of the details you need. We therefore strongly urge you to consult the Web site of the Tennessee Secretary of State:

http://www.state.tn.us/sos/charity/chforms.htm#co

Or contact:
Tennessee Secretary of State, Division of Charitable Solicitations
William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 8th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Telephone: (615) 741-­‐2555
Fax; (615) 253-­‐5173

Each application for registration must include the following documents and fee:

  1. Completed Application for Registration (Form SS-­‐6001)
  2. Completed Summary of Financial Activities (Form SS-­‐6002)
  3. IRS Form 990, Form 990EZ or 990N for the most recently completed fiscal year, if the organization is tax exempt (For renewals only)
  4. An audited financial statement if the organization grossed more than $500,000 in revenue, excluding grants from government agencies and 501(c)(3)private foundations (For renewals only)
  5. Governing documents (Charter or Articles of Incorporation, if incorporated, By-­‐laws, etc.)
  6. IRS determination letter granting tax-­‐exempt status, if applicable
  7. $50.00 filing fee

NOTE: If the application is not complete, the registration will not be approved.

All of the forms mentioned following can be obtained directly from the TN Division of Charitable Solicitations or downloaded from their Web site. The site also includes lists of registered and exempt charities, which should be reviewed as you consider the necessity for your organization to obtain a Solicitation Permit.

Do we need a Solicitation Permit?

In Tennessee, any person or group that solicits the public for support of its charitable cause is a charitable organization. Such solicitation may include asking for monetary donations or selling items such as sponsorships, advertisements, books, food, or tickets to a show.

Generally speaking, persons or organizations that intend to solicit donations must register with the state to legally begin asking the public for contributions.

However, some organizations are considered to be exempt. These exempt organizations include:

  • Bona fide religious institution and affiliated groups;
  • Educational institutions and supporting organizations;
  • Volunteer fire departments, rescue squads, and local civil defense organizations; and
  • Organizations that receive contributions of less than $30,000 annually.

Refer to the Web site for details and definitions of each of these categories.

Completing the Forms

Every charitable organization that intends to solicit contributions from or within this state, or have
funds solicited on its behalf, must complete an “Application for Registration of a Charitable Organization” (Form SS-­‐6001) Or a “Charitable Organization Exemption Request” (Form SS-­‐6042).

The filing of a “Summary of Financial Activities” (Form SS-­‐6002) most likely will be necessary as well.

There are other documents noted in the instructions that may also be required. 

A $50 non-­‐refundable filing fee must be submitted with Form SS-­‐6001.

Please know that all information filed with your application becomes a public record. 

Your Organization’s Permit

Those who complete the registration form receive an identification number. Any member of the public may ask you for that identification number when you ask them for a contribution. Those you solicit have the right to ask you questions about your organization’s mission and expenditures, and to receive truthful answers. The Tennessee Secretary of State Division of Charitable Organizations may investigate a complaint of fraud or any violation of the state’s charitable solicitation laws. Anyone suspected of fraud or misrepresentations made in the course of fund raising activities may be criminally prosecuted.

Your Organization’s Reporting Requirements

During the first year of operation, a new charitable organization must file, within 30 days after the end of each quarter of its fiscal year, a 

“New Charitable Organization Quarterly Financial Report” (Form SS-­‐6039)

Containing the following information:
• Gross amount of contributions received;
• Amount of contributions disbursed or to be disbursed to each charitable organization or charitable purpose represented;
• Aggregate amounts paid to any professional solicitor and/or fund raising counsel; and
• Amounts spent for overhead, expenses, commissions and similar purposes.

Renewal

Tennessee requires every organization to renew its registration if it intends to continue to solicit contributions in the state. It must be filed by its anniversary date.

If you do not intend to continue solicitation activities; you must notify the Secretary of State in writing.

You must submit an;

“Application to Renew Registration of a Charitable Organization” (Form SS-­‐6007)

Within six months of the close of your organization’s fiscal year. The amount of the filing fee is as
follows:

Organization’s Gross Revenue .................................Filing Fee
$0-$48,999.99 ..................................................................$100.00
$49,000.00-$99,999.99 .....................................................$150.00
$100,000.00-$249,999.99 .................................................$200.00
$250,000.00-$499,999.99 .................................................$250.00
$500,000.00-ABOVE .......................................................$300.00

A late fee of $25 will be assessed for each month or portion of a month that your renewal application is overdue.

Professional Solicitors

A professional solicitor for any charitable organization, whether exempt or not, must register with the Secretary of State. Registration shall include the filing of a complete application, bond, and filing fee.

All of the forms for professional solicitors can be found at:

www.state.tn.us/sos/charity.htm

  Revised and Updated June 2013
Charles Christiansen