What Is the Unified Registration Statement? Should Nonprofits Use It?

Once Useful, the URS May Now Be Obsolete

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Why and How the URS Was Created

Most states in the U.S. regulate charitable fundraising. State laws require charities to register and to provide information about fundraising activities to the government. The online presence of many non-profits means that donors might be anywhere, significantly increasing the need to register in multiple states.

To bring some order to this process, the National Association of Attorneys General and the National Charities Officials developed the Unified Registration Statement (URS).

The purpose of the URS was to provide a standardized reporting form for many different states.

Why the URS May No Longer Be Useful

Because states often change their requirements, the usefulness of the Unified Registration Statement (URS) for state charitable solicitation registration may be coming to an end.

Although the URS was created in the hope that multiple states could agree on a standard protocol for the information required to register for charitable solicitation, the number of states willing to accept this form instead of their specific state form is dwindling.

Also, states change their rules more and more frequently, and the URS is not kept current and up-to-date.

The URS form now contains dozens of errors that result in rejected registration applications for well-meaning nonprofit organizations. Updates are few and far between.

Despite what some online sources say, the simple fact is that many states no longer accept the URS at all (and in some cases never accepted it to begin with).

 

The gradual emergence of state-specific registration databases is no particular help to nationwide filers. Instead of mailing a single form, filers must enter necessary data again and again.

Many well-meaning filers seeking support online find out the hard way that the URS pdf includes an appendix of state forms that are mostly out of date, the links to the live forms (for download) are broken, and instructions are often inaccurate.

 

The vision of a single form that could be used to satisfy every state’s registration requirements was a noble one though time is proving that it may not have been a realistic one. The work of staying on top of the individual state requirements alone may have undermined the form.

The URS is not only no longer useful, but it also is increasingly obsolete, and the use of it creates more complications, loss of time, and could increase late fees for uninformed filers.

URS Alternatives

For do-it-yourself state charitable solicitation registrations, nonprofits are better served by an online service that provides up-to-date forms and current instructions to meet state registration requirements inexpensively. There are only two such alternatives: GoSinglePortal.com and SimpleCharityRegistration.com.

When shopping for a D-I-Y registration alternative, nonprofits should consider both price and available support options because multi-state fundraising registration is a dense, complicated process. If it weren’t, the URS would still be viable.

Marc Lee, president of Affinity Fundraising Registration, stays on top of the quickly changing landscape for fundraisers, especially when it comes to staying legal. See Marc’s bio for more information about him and his company. 

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