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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 10, 2012 04:11 PM
From: Representative Neal P. Goodman
To: All House members
Subject: Charity Electronic Filing and Financial Disclosure Database
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation (former House Bill 2703) to address an issue that is receiving more and more attention lately – the amount of donations charities actually spend on their charitable purpose.

You may have seen CNN’s coverage of charities whose founders are making a career out of soliciting donations for causes related to veterans and/or military service personnel yet spending more on their own salaries and advertising than on their actual charitable mission. Consumers deserve to know this information before making a donation, but federal case law largely restricts states from setting stricter charitable spending rules or requiring greater up-front disclosure.

My legislation seeks to address this problem by creating an easy-to-use, searchable database of charity financial documents on the Pennsylvania Department of State website. The information to be included on the website is information that is already provided by the charities and is already public information under the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act. The department had such a database years ago, but it has ceased to exist. My legislation would restore the public access database using funds from existing charity registration fees. It would also use the funds to institute electronic filing by charities. Not only is this necessary to aid the creation of the searchable database, but it will make charity registration much more efficient than the current paper system. It will also make it easier and more efficient for the Department of State’s Bureau of Charitable Organizations or the Attorney General’s office to conduct investigations of alleged charity abuse or fraud.

Introduced as HB416