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California AB 556 – Could It Have a Ripple Affect?

AB 556 is being fast-tracked in California. In brief, the bill would require California-registered charities to “disclose” the use of a fundraising counsel in any solicitation (phone, mail, email, web site, person-to-person) being made “with the participation” of fundraising counsel. Who knows how many letters, web pages, emails, etc. would be implicated.  Every bit of the burden of this enactment would fall upon nonprofits.

California AB 556 is scheduled for its first hearing on April 7. The Attorney General has produced a press release, counsel’s “fact sheet” and the AG’s supporting statement to the legislature. Unfortunately, this simply provides supporting misinformation driving this AG proposal. Note also (in the release) that CalNonprofits, the 9,000-member state association of NPOs, has endorsed AB 556.

ADRFCO, DMANF, and other orgs are at work on this. There is good reason to hope that full-on grassroots lobbying would bring the sponsor – if not the AG – around to something more reasonable.

The AG and the bill’s sponsor hosted a town hall on Thursday Mar 26, in Sacramento. It is critical right now to slow this process down and try to have reason injected into the bill. There ARE better alternatives, such as simply changing the definition of fundraising counsel under California law.

In the meantime, watch out! If California AB 556 is passed, other states may follow.

Excerpted from various legislative sources