Registering as a Charitable Organization
Q. Who must register?
Persons or organizations who intend to solicit the public for contributions for charitable purposes in West Virginia are required to register, unless the organization is exempt. Also, any organization which authorizes another to solicit on its behalf in West Virginia is required to register, even if the members of the organization itself do not solicit.
Q. Is the registration permanent?
No, each organization must renew its registration every year.
Q. What are the annual fees?
Q. Who is exempt from registration?
Exemptions from registration are set by W. Va. Code §29-19-6. Click here to see the details of those specific exemptions.
Q. What about affiliated organizations?
When a charity has a main organization which has control over a number of affiliates, chapters or branches, the law allows the main or parent organization to register and make financial reports on behalf of all affiliates.
Q. What if we think we're exempt?
Send a letter to this office describing your organization, how money is raised, and how much revenue is expected during a year. The Secretary of State will notify you whether you are exempt or have to register based on the information provided. However, if your group decides to change its fundraising practices, you may be required to register later.
Q. If we are starting a new charity, are there other registration requirements?
The answer depends on how your group is organized.
- If your organization is going to be a non-profit corporation, you must also file with the Business Division, then obtain a business license from the State Tax Department. You will not be treated as a non-profit for tax purposes in West Virginia until you obtain a 501(c) tax exempt status from the IRS.
- If you are a small community organization which just wishes to keep a simple organizational structure, you may want to consider organizing an unincorporated non-profit association. The group is required to file an agent for service of process with the Secretary of State, and to obtain a business license from the State Tax Department.
Q. If we are already organized in another state but plan to solicit in West Virginia, are there other registration requirements?
If your charity is a corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, voluntary association or business trust, you must apply for a certificate of authority if your charity will have any physical presence in the state, even for a short time. See our Business Division page for more information. If the certificate of authority is required, registration with the State Tax Department is also required.
If your charity is not one of the types of organizations named above but you will have a physical presence in the state, registration with the Tax Department is still required.