California Bill Regulating Online Charitable Fundraising Signed Into Law

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that will provide oversight of internet-based charities and fundraising platforms, according to a press release issued by Attorney General Rob Bonta. Assemby Bill 488, sponsored by Bonta and authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, permits the California Department of Justice to supervise online giving and protect donors and charities from deceptive and misleading solicitations.

The legislation was written and passed in response to a perceived gap in California’s solicitation laws. As a result, instances of deceit and mistreatment of charitable donations occurred that the Attorney General’s Office was allegedly unable to address through enforcement of then-existing charity oversight laws.

As previously reported, the new law will regulate two newly established types of entities, “charitable fundraising platforms” and “platform charities.” Among other requirements, regulated charities and platforms will have to furnish meaningful and transparent disclosures on their websites, timely distribute donations, and may only solicit on behalf of charities in good standing with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. In addition, the new law bestows the Attorney General’s Office with the authority to issue regulations governing registration and reporting requirements, the timeframe for distributing donations, and donor notifications.

“In the midst of a record-breaking wildfire season and a global pandemic, Californians have opened their hearts and their wallets to charities across the state, the nation, and the world,” Bonta said in a statement. “As charitable fundraising moves increasingly online, AB 488 will provide my office with the ability to properly supervise third-party internet platforms and safeguard the proper treatment of Californians’ donations.”

The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.