You Might Be a “Charity”—Yes, You!

What Individuals Need to Know When Raising Money for a Charitable Cause

Download this PDF - View all Publications

Minnesotans are generous people during the best of times.  When faced with hardships like natural disasters, pandemics, or other emergencies, many step up that generosity even more by raising money to help people in need through giving platforms like GoFundMe, on social media, or through fundraising events.  You should know that raising money to help people comes with specific duties under the law that apply to everyone—not just nonprofits and charities.  They may even apply to you.

Some generous people raise money to help specific people facing hardships.  Raising money to benefit a specific individual, business, or family is not “charitable” under the law.  On the other hand, if you fundraise money or collect goods for a general charitable purpose to help the greater good—such as protective equipment for healthcare workers, food for families in need, or money to help communities rebuild and repair—that conduct comes with important duties and responsibilities under the law.

It is important to be aware of the responsibilities that you have when others trust you with their charitable donations.  “Charitable” donations can be for a wide variety of causes, including social services, education, the public interest, or the arts.  You don’t need to be a 501(c)(3) charity, a nonprofit corporation, or other organization to be subject to charitable giving laws.  In fact, any person raising money in Minnesota for a charitable purpose can be a “charity” under the law.    This publication is intended to help you navigate the duties that come with fundraising for a charitable cause. 

What Laws Do I Need to Follow if I Fundraise for a Charitable Cause?

What Steps Can I Take to Protect Charitable Funds?

Where Can I Learn More?

If you would like to learn more, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office offers several resources, including Guide to Minnesota’s Charities Laws, Fiduciary Duties of Directors of Charitable Organizations, and Don’t Just Follow the Crowd on “Crowdfunding” Websites. You can find additional information on our website at

Related Posts:

Minnesota Charities Laws

This Guide summarizes certain Minnesota laws that govern charitable organizations, professional fund-raisers and charitable trusts, including laws that require registration with or notice to the Attorney General.

Guide for Charity Board Members

The Attorney General’s Office has prepared this Guide for Board Members to help directors understand their responsibilities as stewards of their organizations. Under Minnesota law, directors of a Minnesota nonprofit corporation are responsible for the management of the business and affairs of the corporation.

Don’t Just Follow the Crowd on “Crowdfunding” Websites

Following a few simple rules can help people avoid such scams when donating through online “crowdfunding” platforms.