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Understanding how California AB 488 impacts online charitable fundraising

Three business people at a table looking at documents.

If you are a California-based nonprofit or solicit any donations in California, it’s critical to understand California AB 488 (AB 488). A new law that went into effect in California on January 1, 2023, AB 488 is aimed at improving transparency and accountability in online charitable fundraising.  

While AB 488 is a California law, it could impact all charities in the United States that solicit donations in California, not just those headquartered in the state. It imposes new compliance requirements that could potentially cause your nonprofit to lose out on online fundraising dollars.   

We will share an overview of California AB 488, including what your nonprofit can expect and resources for staying compliant with requirements when raising online donations for your cause in the Golden State.  

What is California AB 488?

AB 488 establishes new requirements on nonprofits and regulates online fundraising platforms (these requirements may impact your ability to fundraise on platforms like Facebook, Network for Good, and PayPal Giving Fund). The California Attorney General’s office is charged with enforcing the provisions of the bill and is finalizing regulations that will allow the Attorney General to supervise online platforms to protect donors and charities from fraud and deceptive solicitations.   

AB 488’s “good standing” requirements and potential financial impacts on your organization

AB 488 requires charitable fundraising platforms to only solicit for nonprofits that are in “good standing” with the California Attorney General’s Office, the California Franchise Tax Board, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This means a nonprofit must be current, registered, and not delinquent in its registration status with these three agencies.  

Before a fundraising platform can allow nonprofits to use its platform for online fundraising in California, it now has a legal obligation to first check the organization’s compliance status with all three government agencies.  

If your nonprofit is not in “good standing” with even one of these agencies, you may be prohibited from soliciting donations in California on an online platform. You can check the following government databases and websites to see if your organization is on any of their block lists:  

Why AB 488 matters for nonprofits in California and beyond

For California-based organizations, it’s important to stay up to date on your registration and “good standing” to remain compliant with AB 488. However, nonprofits incorporated in other U.S. states could also be affected by the law if they are doing business in California, including by engaging in fundraising in California to support their mission-driven work. Each charity based outside of California has to make its own determination whether it has to register in California based on its activities. 

Here’s why: If your nonprofit is on any of the above block lists at any time, your organization will immediately lose access to fundraising tools on platforms like Facebook, Network for Good, and PayPal Giving Fund pursuant to the procedures these platforms have put in place to comply with AB 488.  

This can happen simply because you may have forgotten to file the right documents and pay the right fees in a timely manner. It can also take weeks to be removed from these block lists, because they are currently not updated at a regular cadence.   

Helpful resources for AB 488 compliance

Nonprofits that find themselves on any of the government block lists—and therefore blocked from fundraising on online platforms because of the requirements imposed by AB 488 can access these resources to help get reinstated: 

In addition to using these resources to stay compliant with AB 488, we also recommend keeping your Candid nonprofit profile up to date. Many online donation platforms already use nonprofit profile data by directly integrating with Candid APIs to verify organizations’ tax-exempt status with the IRS.  

How Candid eases the burden of navigating AB 488 compliance

To ease the burden of navigating compliance with this new California law for online fundraising platforms and nonprofits alike, we are also pleased to announce that our Charity Check API now also includes AB 488 compliance data.

By integrating with our newly enhanced API, online fundraising platforms can instantly verify that a nonprofit is compliant with AB 488’s requirements across all three relevant agencies. The only solution of its kind, it will also help them accelerate the process of reinstating nonprofits’ ability to fundraise on their platforms if placed on government block lists. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Candid’s AB 488 Charity Check API, you can visit our developer portal or contact our team for more information. 


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  • Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:

    December 12, 2023 10:55 am

    The Seals of Transparency program does not indicate compliance. So yes, an organization can have a seal and still be suspended by the CA AG or the FTB.

  • Martin says:

    December 4, 2023 10:30 am

    AB 488 is very welcome, as it will help donors to make better informed decisions. It's also great that Candid provides an API that enables these checks to be automated.

    How does an organization's AB 488 status affect their Candid Seal of Transparency? For example, is it possible for an organization that is registered in California to simultaneously have a Platinum Seal of Transparency, and also be suspended by the California Franchise Tax Board?

    To ask this another way - for organizations that are registered in California, does a Platinum Seal of Transparency indicate that the organization's AB 488 status is all clear?

    Thanks again for your great work!