Legalities of Soliciting Money or Gifts on the Internet

by Brandi Brown

Launching a website and beginning an online fundraising campaign is an inexpensive way to have a capital campaign or membership drive for your organization. With the low overhead, more organizations are adding Internet fundraising to their repertoire. While there are no specific guidelines for soliciting money or gifts online, there are some general considerations.

Verification of Deduction

Not all contributions to legitimate organizations are tax-deductible. The organization must be a 501(C)3 organization. The organization should indicate this fact on its website, and potential contributors can contact the IRS or locate a copy of Publication 68, often available at libraries, to determine whether that statement is valid before making a donation.

Anti-Spam Laws

In general, the CAN-SPAM Act prohibits sending unwanted emails. Sending an email to a group asking for money or gifts when those people have not signed up for information from your organization is a violation of the law. Anti-spam laws require a double opt-in for all information, meaning that people have to sign up for organizational information and verify, usually through an email link, that they requested the information.

Written Acknowledgment

The IRS requires that nonprofits send a written acknowledgment to people for their contributions. For online solicitations, this written acknowledgment can be in the form of an email thanking someone for a contribution, or it can be a receipt from the organization’s merchant account.

Scams

Anyone receiving an online charity request should beware of scams. Some people create an organization as a front to get money from people. Because of the global audience the Internet provides, these scammers can find new targets constantly. Beware of any organization that does not provide an address, phone number, and email contact.

About the Author

Brandi Brown is a freelance writer with over five years of Web-based experience. She has a bachelor's degree in history from Mercer University and is a graduate student in women's and gender studies at the University of Louisville. Her works appears in various online journals and offline newspapers.

Photo Credits