Online Compendium of NPO Regulations

Online Compendium of Federal and State Regulations for U.S. Nonprofit Organizations


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NPO Regulations Quiz

How much do you know about NPO regulations? Our current topic: Registration by charities before conducting a solicitation campaign

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Current Controversies Poll

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This Web site provides a central resource for nonprofit organization (NPO) administrators, regulators and the interested public to find information about the laws and regulations controlling NPOs in the U.S. The site has three major sections: a set of informational pages about various general topics, a section of pages each dedicated to an individual jurisdiction (e.g. states) that describe the regulations of those jurisdictions, and a section devoted to current issues in NPO regulation and the efforts being made to minimize the regulatory burden that NPOs face.

This Web site is very new and many parts still exist only in outline form. If you are interested in contributing to this project by writing and maintaining one or more of the pages here, please contact the site administrator. At this time, the most pressing need is for volunteers to maintain each state regulations page.

Although this site will be useful for any nonprofit organization, the main inspiration for the site's creation was the overwhelming burden faced by small organizations that wish to extend their activities using the Internet. Because the online publication of a Web page creates an immediate national presence for even the smallest organizations, these organizations may suddenly find themselves subject to myriad regulations that only a large organization typically has the resources even to assess, much less to comply with. Accordingly, two major goals of this site are (1) to provide a resource that will allow even small nonprofit organizations to familiarize themselves with the issues and practicalities of operating nationally, and (2) to build a foundation for minimizing the burden of interstate regulation, particularly as suffered by small organizations.

This site aims to better educate interested people in the issues of nonprofit organization regulations, but NOTHING AT THIS SITE MAY BE CONSTRUED AS PROFESSIONAL LEGAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE. Those responsible for the legal and financial health of their organizations must invariably consult appropriate professional advisors sooner or later, and sooner is usually the wiser course. This site was created to help people learn how to ask the right questions and how to begin finding answers. Also, although the intention is to maintain a timely and accurate set of resources, the sheer effort of keeping up with changes in state and federal regulation insures at least some delays and occasional inaccuracies. By using this site, you are indicating your understanding of these facts.


Resources At This Site

(not yet written) = not yet written | (under construction) = in progress


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This search engine uses a syntax similar to the Altavista Search Engine one. You may search for phrases by surrounding them with double quotes ("example phrase"). You may use Boolean operators ("AND" "OR" "NOT"), and can prefix words or quoted phrases with "+" if the word or phrase is required to be on the page, or "-" of it must not be on the page. The default connector between words is "OR." "Natural language" searching is not supported, so provide only key words or phrases. The search results are ordered by how well they match your search terms. Parentheses for grouping search terms are not supported, nor is appending "*" to indicate a root term. Omit common words (e.g. "as," "the," etc.). The search is case sensitive; generally, use all lower case except for acronyms. A separate text provides more tips on searching.

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"postage rates"
Find all pages here that include the phrase "postage rates" either within their body text, title, description, or keywords list. Note the double quotes must be included to indicate a phrase. The page description and keywords list are usually hidden, although the search system displays the page titles and descriptions in its results listing after a search.
+postage +rates
Find all pages here that include BOTH the words "postage" and "rates."
AND postage AND rates
Find all pages here that include BOTH the words "postage" and "rates."
postage rates
Find all pages that include EITHER of these words. Pages that include both words are listed in the search results ahead of those containing only one.
postage OR rates
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rates -postage
Find all pages that include the word "rates" but not the word "postage."
rates NOT postage
Find all pages that include the word "rates" but not the word "postage."


What's New

What's New in U.S. NPO Regulation

Eventually, there will be links to recent news here. For now, links to other sources of online NPO regulation news are provided below.

Enter search terms: search tips

What's New At This Site

The Compendium continues to be filled in piece by piece. The most recently added texts are on Lobbying and Political Activity, and on Charitable Donations Through Planned Giving.


March 21, 1999
Added a poll and a quiz to the main page. New ones will probably be created quarterly, addressing controversial issues. They are intended to increase awareness and get people thinking about difficult issues in NPO regulation. The poll mechanism is resistant but not impervious to duplicate submissions.
March 8, 1999
A section introducing major issues of lobbying and political activity by tax-exempt organizations, and and one that provides an introduction to planned giving, are added. These and other sections from the "Other Topics" page are split off onto their own pages.
February 12, 1999
Data are posted from a preliminary study to determine the number of soliciting nonprofit organizations that have registered nationwide.
February 3, 1999
Added a search engine to the site.
February 2, 1999
The page about NPO financial accounting regulations is complete in first draft form, and the one for Other Regulatory Issues is complete other than the section on planned giving instruments.
January 31, 1999
The "Financial Accounting" page now includes a moderately complete set of links to related resources, and some links to information about U.S. Postal Service's NPO discounts was added to the "Other Regulatory Issues" page.
January 29,1999
Ed Mazlish of Perlman & Perlman sends the American Charities for Reasonable Fundraising Regulations documents for their Pinellas County and the Connecticut cases, and they're posted online here.
January 28, 1999
Copies of the Connecticut documents from "American Charities... v. Shiffrin" are sent by David Ormstedt (Assistant Attorney General, Connecticut) and posted online here.
January 27, 1999
A new, somewhat more colorful style is implemented for the site, and some minor restructuring was done.
January 25, 1999
Copies of the Pinellas County, Florida documents from "American Charities... v. Pinellas County, FL" are received from Carl Brody (Assistant County Attorney, Pinellas Country) and posted online here.
January 18, 1999
The "Current Controversies: Out-of-State Solicitation and Regulation" page is essentially complete.
January 13, 1999
Copies of Utah's "ATA v. Giani" court case documents are sent by Jeffrey Gray (Assistant Attorney General, Utah) and posted online here.
January 8, 1999
The site now has nine state regulations pages whose development is underway by various volunteers.
December 21, 1998
The "Legal Basis of Regulations" page is essentially complete.
December 14, 1998
A moderately complete draft of the Ohio state NPO regulations page is posted.
December 5, 1998
An invitation is sent to the CharityLaw mail-list calling for volunteers to help with each state regulations page.
November 30, 1998
Geoffrey Peters sends a copy of his article "A Brief Study of the Costs of Charitable Regulation" to be posted online here.
November 24, 1998
Geoffrey Peters (an authority on NPO fundraising issues) and Lee Cassidy (editor of the NFN Federation Folio) give permission for the National Federation of Nonprofits' June 1998 issue of Federation Folio, about online solicitation, to be posted online here.
November 20, 1998
Dan Moore (Registrar of Charitable Organizations, NM Attorney General's Office) sends a copy of the 1986 Model Charitable Solicitations Act, which is scanned and posted online here.
November 19, 1998
The site is conceived by Eric Mercer after discussions with Putman Barber (NPO-FAQ administrator) and Robert Tigner (co-developer of the Unified Registration Statement), and posted online in preliminary form. An announcement on the CharityLaw mail-list invites comments and suggestions.

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Please note that a feedback form is available for you to use to contact the site administrator.

Site administered by: Eric Mercer <>

Page last updated 03Jun99

Online Compendium of Federal and State Regulations for U.S. Nonprofit Organizations