After Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s (D-Oakley) AB 2855 did not advance last week, he was granted re-consideration for the Bill to be voted on a second time in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday, April 19.
Under the amended Bill, it would require non-profits to provide a prominent link to the Attorney General’s Internet Web site which contains information about consumer rights and protections and charity research resources. The bill would also require any solicitation document produced by a charity to also include the address for the Attorney General’s Internet Web site.
On April 12, Assemblymembers Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), Catharine Baker (R-Dublin), Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) all voted no on AB 2855. And Assemblymembers Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) and Matt Dababneh (D-Encino) abstained, leaving AB 2855 one vote shy of the six needed to clear the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection committee.
In a party line vote, Assemblymembers Ian Calderon (D–Whittier), Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) all voted in favor of the bill.
CalNonprofits has been leading the charge against the bill with more than 300 non-profits and are encouraging any non-profit who has not added their voice to the opposition letter to do so by clicking here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OpposeAB2855
RE: Opposition to AB 2855 (Frazier) – as amended on April 7, 2016
Dear Assemblyman Chau,
As charity leaders, we write to express our ongoing opposition to AB 2855 by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, which would require every charity seeking funds to support their work to include on their websites and any document a charity produces which includes fundraising language to include a link to the Attorney General’s web site.
While the web site disclosure requirement in subsection (a) is burdensome, expensive, duplicative, confusing and likely both unconstitutional and unenforceable, the “any document” requirement in subsection (b) is all those things on steroids.
The AG’s office is already communicating this information to the public – their web site is the first listing in a Google search for “California charities.” Burdening nonprofits in and beyond California with required speech on “any document” which seeks donor support to simply advertise what the public can easily find is unnecessarily punitive without serving any compelling public interest. Imagine all the “documents” that non-profit organizations create to solicit funds to support their mission-based work: signs on coin collection jars, private letters to individual donors, billboards and other large-scale outdoor advertisements, flyers posted in laundromats, neighborhood association newsletters, to name just a few. And AB 2855’s provisions would apply to any charity– regardless of where they are based – that solicits donations from Californians. So, every inbound piece of mail from any charity in the world would have to include this unnecessary disclosure. The additional cost of including this provision on “any document” would be extraordinary.
Here are some of the concerns voiced by California nonprofit organizations to California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits) to AB 2855, as amended on April 7, 2016:
- For a small organization like the ours, including this information on all postcards, brochures, postcards, emails would be excessively difficult. We are run exclusively by volunteers, our budget is small, the possibility of errors is probable, not just possible.
- We take our role as stewards of our donors’ and taxpayers’ money very seriously and strive for utmost transparency in our communication of our community impact and use of financial resources. This bill puts a significant burden on all nonprofit organizations, but particularly small organizations that already struggle with the legal requirements for financial and outcome reporting with the state and our funders.
- While they are nonprofits that are not ethical, the VAST majority are doing excellent work on a shoestring (or less) budget. There are already a number of ways potential donors can find financial information. This bill will only serve to keep the good nonprofits from being properly funded to serve those in need.
- This bill would be a disaster for nonprofits and creates a poisonous image. Donors need to be encouraged not warned. The vast majority of nonprofits get by on so little. That their heroic efforts on behalf of the public good would be undermined because of the rare incidents Non-profit organizations opposed to AB 2855 as of April 11, 2016 of unscrupulous behavior of the few would be tragic. Punish those who abuse the public trust, not those who work for it.
- I am supportive of creating greater transparency for donors but do not see this bill as achieving that goal.
- The burdens placed on small, nonprofits by the requirements of this bill, would create an extreme burden and hardship on our volunteer staff. Compliance with this bill takes away from our time and resources to the detriment of the student musicians we serve.
California’s nonprofit organizations are trusted and relied upon by millions of citizens who rely on them to provide critical services in their communities.
We urge you to vote NO on AB 2855.
CEO, California Association of Nonprofits