Threats to Donor Disclosure on the Rise

Two years after the Supreme Court confirmed donors have the right to give anonymously, donor disclosure threats are emerging in state capitals across the country.

In an alarming statement, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt called for stronger transparency laws around political campaigns. While the Roundtable generally leaves political speech to campaign finance experts, efforts to expand restrictions on political activities often sweep in the non-political speech of nonprofits in a state. This puts nonprofit donor disclosure on the table – despite the constitutional protections in place for donor privacy.

Oklahoma State Rep. Ty Burns has already introduced House Bill 2268, which calls for new mandatory disclosures for charities and their fundraisers located both inside and outside the Sooner State. Those who value philanthropic freedom and recognize the importance of fostering giving to a wide range of causes throughout America should be wary that a bill like this has been introduced. Any proposed increase in regulations or additions to the burdens on charities must be scrutinized.

Oklahoma is not the only state to watch. Other states are considering disclosure mandates as well:

  • The North Dakota legislature introduced House Bill 1452 that would have imposed a 90% tax on monetary contributions in support or opposition given by nonresidents of the state. Thankfully, the measure died on the House floor after strong opposition to the unconstitutional measure.
  • In Alaska, House Bill 36 was introduced earlier in 2023. As it would require disclosure for out-of-state groups speaking out on referendums and recall elections, this bill could have a significant silencing effect on nonprofits in other states.

In May, 2022, the Roundtable released a 50-State Look at Anonymous Giving. It outlines the nature of anonymous giving, examples of donors targeted and harassed for their gifts, ongoing legislative battles in the states surrounding donor disclosure and stories of donors who would be less likely to give if they were unable to do so anonymously. As each state is examined, there is an underlying theme: in each case study it is made clear disclosure is unwanted.

As the Roundtable’s policy primer on donor privacy explains, every American has the fundamental right to support the causes and organizations they believe in without fear of violence, harassment or intimidation. Forced disclosure can chill giving and every American should have the right to give privately if they choose.

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