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Web Site Cookbook by Doug Addison

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8.11. Soliciting Donations and Contributions

Problem

You want to collect money directly from visitors who support the cause advocated on your site, without setting up your own system for taking credit card payments online.

Solution

Use one of the many payment pass-through systems to allow visitors to donate or contribute to your organization through your web site after you first answer these questions:

  • Will the contributions I collect be tax deductible?

  • Does my organization need to be registered to collect donations?

  • What information do I need to collect about contributors?

  • How will I acknowledge contributions?

Discussion

Nonprofit organizations with tight budgets usually don't have the resources to set up their own custom donation collection engines, but that shouldn't stop you—or one of your clients—from using the web as a fundraising channel. What should stop you—or at least give you pause—are the little-known legal requirements of doing so. Online fundraising is a prime example of pre-Internet laws and regulations that take the ease out of transacting business over the Web, at least for the web site owner.

Warning

This Recipe is intended to be an overview of the obstacles involved in collecting contributions online, not legal advice. For guidance regarding your specific situation, consult your tax adviser or attorney.

If your organization is a legal charity or nonprofit in the United States (and the donations you collect are tax deductible), then you must register with most of the 50 states ...

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