California State Assembly Advances AG-Sponsored Legislation to Provide Oversight of Charitable Giving on Internet Platforms
SACRAMENTO – The California State Assembly today approved AB 2208, a bill authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and sponsored by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. AB 2208 would provide much needed oversight of charitable fundraising on internet platforms. With this legislation, California would lead the nation in protecting charitable donations made through online fundraising. The bill would authorize the Attorney General to exercise proper supervision over these online platforms to further protect California’s donors from deceptive or misleading charitable solicitations.
"As our communities come together to support each other during these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever that we protect the generosity of Californians donating to good causes,” said Attorney General Becerra. “AB 2208 would establish the framework for our office to oversee online charitable fundraising platforms and ensure that charitable donations are being properly administered.”
“Californians are generous at heart, and with the recent surge in online charitable fundraising, there are more opportunities available than ever to support local and national charities,” said Assemblymember Irwin. “When Californians make the decision to give, it is important that they are able to evaluate the platform and process their donation will pass through before ultimately reaching their desired charity.”
Under the Supervision of Trustees and Fundraisers for Charitable Purposes Act (Act), the Attorney General’s Office holds primary enforcement and supervisory powers over charities, trustees, commercial fundraisers, and other legal entities that hold or solicit donations for charitable purposes. In recent years, charitable fundraising on internet platforms has changed the landscape of charitable giving. Internet companies have developed methods for individuals to donate to charities through websites and phone applications that serve as “charitable fundraising platforms.” California’s solicitation laws do not specifically reach these online platforms, resulting in instances of deceit and mistreatment of charitable donations that the Attorney General’s Office is not able to address through enforcement of the Act.
If signed into law, AB 2208 would:
- Create a level playing field for all charitable giving platforms, regardless of business model, by defining two new groups of entities, “charitable fundraising platforms” and “platform charities” that are subject to the Act;
- Require covered entities to provide meaningful and transparent disclosures on their internet platforms, promptly distribute donations, and prohibit solicitations for charities not in good standing with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts;
- Permit some instances of soliciting for a charity without prior consent if certain criteria that safeguard against harm to charities and the public are met; and
- Authorize the Attorney General’s Office to implement regulations to require donor notification and reporting requirements, and to encourage transparency and accountability.