I loved this story on Non Profit Quarterly about a Maine restaurant which actually revived its business when it started holding all you can eat fundraisers for charities.
…the eatery thought of the weekly all-you-can-eat nights with suggested donations flowing to charity as a way to attract new customers. “It worked almost immediately and it revitalized the business,” Benedict said. “We would have gone out of business if we didn’t change the way we did business. Giving back is the first thing we did, and it worked.” She says that a total of $635,000 has been raised since 2009 for local charity organizations and individuals.
It is great to hear that a business saved itself by helping charities in the community. It could be a model for other communities and businesses.
However, the restaurant hit a snag when the state attorney general started to investigate whether it was licensed as a charitable solicitor.
My first reaction was disappointment because the restaurant was doing such good work, but the truth is that there is a lot of fraud and deception perpetuated by companies acting as charitable solicitors. So unfortunately, despite an abundance of good intentions, companies need to be careful about providing assistance to charities in a similar manner.
The Council of Non-Profits has a link to the first chapter of a book about the licensing required for charitable solicitation by 40 states. The chapter provides a good introduction to the issues involved and resources for finding out more about the requirements in your state. I was able to go right to the pertinent sections of my state code and find who is exempt from filing with a couple mouse clicks. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the restaurant would be exempt in my state.)