FAQs - Registration and Annual Filing of Charities

What organizations are required to register with the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau?

Most organizations that hold property of any kind for charitable purposes or engage in charitable activities in New York State and/or solicit charitable contributions (including grants from foundations and government grants) in New York are required to register with the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau. Under New York law, charity is defined very broadly to include purposes such as education, relief of poverty, cultural programs, promotion of health and research to cure disease, and many other purposes that are beneficial to the community. Although most charitable organizations are required to register, the law exempts some, including religious organizations, from registering. If you believe that your organization may be exempt from the registration requirements, you will have an opportunity to claim an exemption when you fill out the online registration application.

How can an organization register with the Charities Bureau?

An organization should go to the Charities Bureau website (www.CharitiesNYS.com), click on the Register Online button and begin.

What are key documents and information that registrants will need to complete their application?

  • An EIN number
  • A Certificate of Incorporation or other organizing document
  • Bylaws or other rules document

For a complete list, registrants should consult the online checklist detailing what is required to register prior to starting the application.

Please note that the form requires two signatories:

  1. The organization’s president or other authorized officer
  2. The chief financial officer, treasurer or other person with fiscal responsibility.

The registrant will need their emails so the application can be sent for their review and e-signature.

What organizations are exempt from registration?

Among the organizations exempt from registration are religious organizations (houses of worship) and other charitable organizations run by religious organizations; membership organizations that do not solicit from the public; Parent Teacher Associations, educational institutions that file annual reports with the New York State Department of Education; and governmental agencies.

What are the annual filing requirements for a registered organization?

Organizations registered with the Charities Bureau must file a CHAR500 Annual Financial Report. This includes the CHAR500 form and, if applicable, a copy of the IRS form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF and all supporting schedules, a copy of an independent Certified Public Accountant’s Review or Audit Report, and appropriate fee. Please refer to our Summary of Annual Filing Requirements and Forms for more detail. Organizations may complete the CHAR500 and file attachments online through Form990.org.

I want to collect money for my neighbor who is ill. Do I have to register with the Attorney General?

Often members of a community collect money for a friend or neighbor who is ill or who has suffered a tragedy. Such funds are not charities and are exempt from registration as long as all of the contributions collected are paid to (or for the benefit of) the person for whom the money was collected.

You may designate up to three alternate beneficiaries, in case the person for whom you are collecting cannot use all of the funds collected. If you designated an alternate beneficiary, you should complete a form CHAR017 (Charitable Solicitation for the Relief of an Individual), which is posted on our Forms page and submit it to the Charities Bureau. Designating alternate beneficiaries will simplify distribution of excess funds and avoid a possible court proceeding to determine to whom such funds should be distributed. If you file form CHAR1017, you must advise potential contributors that the form has been filed with the Attorney General.