Charities and Fundraisers FAQs

Contents
Account management
Contract elements required by law
Definitions
Disclosure requirements
Donors and consumers
eFiling and other filing questions
Exemption claims
Fees and payment
Filing notice schedule
Public benefit corporations & benefit corporations
Registration
Surety bond

 

Electronic filing and other filing questions


Q1.  I’m a preparer for an organization.  How do I open a filing on behalf of a client?

A1.  Login to your account.  Select your organization from “My Organizations,” then select File a Form.  If the filing was already begun earlier or was rejected, you will see it in the “Open Filings” panel, and you can click on the link in the “Filing” column to resume working on it.  When your data entry is complete, sign off on your work.  At that point, only you can return the document to edit mode.  The authorized officer will be able to view a summary of the document and sign it, but will need to contact you if changes are necessary.

 

Q2. How do I file forms with your office?  

A2. Most forms are filed online by logging in with your user ID and password.  To view all available forms and instructions, see the File a Form page.

 

Q3.  How do I pay for filings?  

A3.  See the payment FAQs.

 

Q4.  How do I change or add information on my registration?  

A4.  Registrations can be amended to change or correct the information that was originally submitted.  Changes must be reported to our office within 30 days.

Paid solicitors can  amend their registration to add the names and addresses of any new partners, members, officers, directors, agents, or employees.  This must be done within five days of the employment or contractual arrangement. 

To file an amendment, see the File a Form page.

 

Q5.  I’m the primary authorized officer for an organization, and my preparer has asked to view and sign a filing.  How do I do that?

A5.  Login to your account.  You will be directed to your dashboard, which consists of three main sections:  (1) My Organizations, (2) Open Filings, and (3) Filings due in the next 30 days (including past due filings).  Under Open Filings, select the appropriate link in the “Filing” column.  Click on “View Filing” and review.  Then click on the Back button and click on “Sign Filing.”  The preparer will receive an email informing them that you signed the document.

 

Q6. How long is my registration valid?

A6. All registrations are valid for a span of time and then must be renewed, as follows:

  • Paid solicitors: Registrations are valid for one year from the date of the initial registration (the “anniversary date”) and until the next anniversary date following each renewal.
  • Professional fundraising consultants: Registrations are valid for one year from the date of the initial registration (the “anniversary date”) and until the next anniversary date following each renewal.
  • Charitable organizations: Registrations are valid until the 15th day of the fifth month following the close of the organization’s fiscal year. Charities are granted an automatic three-month extension of that deadline if the IRS approved an extension application. It is not necessary to provide documentation of the IRS extension, but please keep in mind that by law the organization must file by the earlier deadline if the IRS did not grant an extension of the filing deadline. If the organization still needs more time to file, it will need to file an extension online with the Secretary of State (even if the IRS extension was for six months). It is not possible to extend the filing deadline by more than six months.

 

Q7.  When is my renewal due?  

A7.  Renewals are due as follows:

  • Charitable organizations must file a renewal on or before the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of each fiscal year in which the charitable organization solicited in Colorado. This is the same date that the organization’s Form 990 is due to the IRS.

    Charitable organizations are granted an automatic 3-month extension of this deadline. Please note, however, that even though the electronic filing system will enter an automatic three-month extension, charities by law must still file a renewal and financial report with our office by the 15th day of the fifth month after the organization’s fiscal year, unless the IRS authorizes a later date for filing the organization’s Form 990.  We may request documentation of the IRS authorization in unusual circumstances, but not routinely.

    If you file a 990-T and receive a six-month extension from the IRS, you do not get an automatic six-month extension from us- you will only get the automatic three-month extension. You must request a second extension to add an additional three months. You must file a request for a second extension on or before the 15th day of the eighth month after the end of your fiscal year.

    See "How do I request an additional extension?"

    A charity may withdraw its registration or allow its registration to expire, but it must file a final financial report on or before the date of withdrawal or expiration that includes information through the last date on which the organization solicited contributions in Colorado.

  • Paid solicitors:  Your renewal is due on or before the anniversary date of your initial registration.  Registrations can be renewed beginning 60 days before the renewal deadline.

    You can find your anniversary date by searching for your record on our website. The initial registration (anniversary) date is found on the summary page.

  • Professional fundraising consultants:  Your renewal is due on or before the anniversary date of your initial registration.  Registrations can be renewed beginning 60 days before the renewal deadline.

    You can find your anniversary date by searching for your record on our website. The initial registration (anniversary) date is found on the summary page.

Top

Q8. What happens if I don’t renew on or before the expiration date?

A8.  We send a courtesy reminder by email 15 days before your standard due date (the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of the fiscal year.  We send a second courtesy reminder by email 15 days before your auto-extended deadline (the 15th day of the eighth month after the end of the fiscal year). 

If you allow your registration to expire, you can no longer solicit contributions in Colorado.  We will send two notifications (by both email and first-class mail) alerting the organization that its registration expired.  If you act before the 17th day after the expiration date, you can renew without penalty.  After that, you will need to reinstate your registration.

 

Q9.  How do I get back in compliance if I my registration expired?

A9.  You will need to reinstate your registration.  Paid solicitors and professional fundraising consultants pay the normal filing fee for the reinstatement and, if applicable, a fine for each year they should have been registered since the expiration date, up to a maximum of three years. 

Charitable organizations that should have been registered since the expiration date will need to file a financial form for the most recent fiscal year and a financial form for each additional fiscal year it should have been registered (up to a maximum of the past three fiscal years).  They will also pay a fine for each year they were not registered when they should have been, up to a maximum of three years.  Charitable organizations that were not required to register since the expiration date will file their most recent financial report, complete a renewal form, and pay the normal filing fee in order to reinstate their registration.  The registration will be reinstated when the most recent financial report and renewal are approved. 

 

Q10. What else should I know about the reinstatement process?

A10. Because the e-file application only allows one open filing at a time, we must delete any incomplete filings on the system when a customer clicks on the “Reinstate” link.  Please plan accordingly, so you don’t end up re-entering the same data in a reinstatement form that you had already entered in a renewal or amendment.

If a renewal or amendment is submitted near the expiration date and is subsequently rejected, you will have at least five calendar days to make the required corrections and re-submit.  On the 18th calendar day after the expiration date, any incomplete filings -- including a rejected renewal or amendment -- will be deleted from the system, and you will need to reinstate your registration.

 

Q11.  We are no longer operating in Colorado, or we are no longer required by law to register.  How do we withdraw?

A11.  To withdraw your organization, file any final documents, and then fill out the withdrawal form (PDF).

Mail the form to:

Colorado Secretary of State
Business & Licensing Division
Charities Program
1700 Broadway, Ste. 200
Denver, CO 80290

Forms can also be faxed to 303-869-4871, or emailed to charitable@sos.state.co.us.

 

Q12.  I don't have a federal employer identification number (FEIN). How do I get one?  

A12.  FEINs are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  You can apply online.

 

Q13.  When I search for my organization, why do I get a message that says "Zero records returned"?  

A13.  The organization may not have submitted a registration, or the registration may not have been approved yet.  Our office has ten days to approve filings after they are submitted.

Also, check that you have entered the organization name or FEIN number correctly on the search screen.

 

Q14.  I'm renewing my charitable organization's registration.  Why can't I change the dates for our financial report?

A14.  Once the initial registration and financial report have been filed, our system will automatically determine the dates for all future financial reports. This ensures that every organization has an unbroken history of financial reporting.
If you are renewing your registration and the default financial report dates are wrong, that means the date on your initial registration was incorrect. Contact us at charitable@sos.state.co.us to correct the problem.

 

Q15.  Why can’t I find my most recent Form 990 on your site?

A15. Form 990s aren’t filed directly with our office- they are filed with the IRS.  We pay for a subscription service (through the Economic Research Institute) that gives us a library of Form 990 images that we display on our website.

The timeline for posting a 990 image on the our website is:

  • The IRS sends a DVD of 990 images to ERI once per month, which includes everything that the IRS has.
  • The IRS can take up to six months to include a 990 on the DVD.
  • 990s often don’t get filed with the IRS until four and a half months after a fiscal year, and then there could be up to a six-month extension, followed by a six-month delay before the 990 is included on a DVD sent to ERI.
  • Occasionally, the IRS makes mistakes or is late including a 990 on the DVD.
  • ERI posts 100% of what they get from IRS within two weeks.

Colorado private foundation Form 990-PFs are filed with the Attorney General’s office, but those forms are not displayed on any website.

Top