Charitable/Governmental Gift Solicitation Waivers

Forms

To file a solicitation waiver request or an activity report, download the form and email it to the Ethics Board here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should my agency apply for a Charitable/Governmental Gift Solicitation Waiver?

As a general matter, the Ethics Law prohibits City employees and officials from soliciting and accepting gifts from a person or entity who could be considered a controlled donor

A controlled donor is any person or entity that:

  • Does/seeks to do business (regardless of amount) with the employee's/official's agency or with another person who has a contract with/is negotiating a contract with the employee's/official's agency;
  • Engages/seeks to engage in an activity regulated/controlled by the employee's/official's agency;
  • Is or was, within the preceding 12 months, a lobbyist on matters within the employee's/official's jurisdiction;
  • Has a financial interest that might be materially affected by the employee's/official's official duties (different from the effect on the public at large);
  • Is officially affiliated with any person described above (i.e. owner, partner, officer, director, trustee, employee, or agent of such a person).

See Sections 6-26 and 6-27 and R 06.26.1 of the Ethics Law and review the Ethics Law's restrictions on gifts here.

Under these provisions, City employees and officials should avoid broad gift solicitation efforts, such as fundraising, which could reach controlled donors. That said, a City agency may request a waiver from the Ethics Board to broadly solicit and accept gifts for the exclusive benefit of a governmental or charitable function. See R 06.26.1.

How does my agency apply for a waiver?

To request a waiver, the sponsoring agency—the City agency that will conduct the solicitationsshould complete the Charitable/Governmental Gift Solicitation Waiver Application here and above. Once complete, the application must be endorsed by the Board of Estimates (BOE) before it is submitted to the Ethics Board. Upon BOE endorsement, the sponsoring agency should forward the endorsed application to the Ethics Board for approval.

A list of active and past charitable/governmental gift solicitation waivers, with applications and approval letters, can be found on the Solicitation Waivers webpage here.

Gift Solicitation Waiver Process

What are the reporting requirements??

Once approved for a waiver, the sponsoring agency is required to file periodic reports on the program’s solicitation efforts, donations, and expenditures. The reports must be signed by the fiscal sponsor—the person responsible for the custody, accounting, and distribution of donations as accurate.

Download the Activity Report Form here or above.

 

Summary of the Ethics Law

Official governmental or City-endorsed charitable solicitations (R 06.26.1)

General Standards

The prohibition in Ethics Code § 6-26(a) against the solicitation of gifts from controlled donors does not apply to a solicitation if:

  • the solicitation is for the exclusive benefit of a governmental or charitable function, program, or activity;
  • the program, function, or activity to be benefitted and the proposed solicitation campaign has been endorsed by the Board of Estimates or its designee(s);
  • https://comptroller.baltimorecity.gov/boe/meetings
  • the solicitation is directed at a broad range of potential donors and does not specially target-controlled donors;
  • the campaign is designed and conducted so as to avoid any suggestion that contributors might receive special access or favored treatment from any City agency or official;
  • the proposed solicitation has been approved in advance by the Ethics Board, on the written request of the sponsoring agency; and
  • the solicitation is conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Ethics Board’s approval.

Request for Approval

The sponsoring agency must submit its written request for a charitable solicitation to the Ethics Board at least 45 days before any controlled donor is solicited. The request must include the following information:

  • the specific governmental or charitable function, program, or activity for which the solicitation will be made;
  • the specific purposes to which all receipts will be applied;
  • when the Board of Estimate’s or another designee’s endorsement was obtained, and a description of any conditions or limitations imposed on that endorsement;
  • when, how, and by whom the solicitation will be conducted;
  • the categories of persons to be solicited;
  • measures to ensure that:
    • the solicitation will be directed at a broad range of potential donors and does not specially target-controlled donors; and
    • the campaign will avoid any suggestion that contributors might receive special access or favored treatment from any City agency or official;

  • the identity of the individual who will be responsible for the custody, accounting, and final distribution of donations;
  • the aggregate value of the donations sought; and
  • any other information that the Ethics Board requests.

Report

The sponsoring agency must periodically report solicitation activities to the Ethics Board, as follows:

  • A Final, Cumulative Report must be filed within 30 days after all solicitations have been made and anticipated donations received.
  • Interim Reports must be filed on the following schedule, depending on the aggregate value of donations sought by the campaign:
    • for campaigns seeking $50,000 or more in donations, once every 3 months;
    • for campaigns seeking between $5,000 and $50,000, once every 6 months; and
    • for campaigns seeking less than $5,000, only the Final, Cumulative Report is required.

  • The report must be filed in the form that the Ethics Board requires.
  • The report must contain the following information:
    • all changes in any of the information contained in the request to the Ethics Board or in the Board’s approval;
    • the aggregate amount or value of donations received from all persons;
    • a list of all donors and the amount or value of their respective donations;
    • the identity of each controlled donor that was solicited, whether that person donated or not;
    • an accounting of how all donations and other income have been expended; and
    • any other information that the Ethics Board requires.

Public Record

All requests, approvals or denials, and reports filed under this Regulation are public records, available for public inspection and copying during regular office hours.

Workplace Campaigns (R 06.26.2)

The prohibition in Ethics Code § 6-26(a) and the required procedures in R 06.26.1 of these Regulations do not apply to a workplace charitable-giving campaign that:

  • is primarily concerned with soliciting charitable donations from City employees;
  • offers a broad choice of charities to which donations can be made; and
  • is approved by the Board of Estimates and the Ethics Board.

Key Terms

Controlled Donor 

  • Does/seeks to do business (regardless of amount) with the public servant’s agency or with another person who has a contract with/is negotiating a contract with the public servant’s agency;
  • Engages/seeks to engage in an activity regulated/controlled by the public servant’s agency;
  • Is or was, within the preceding 12 months, a lobbyist on matters within the public servant’s jurisdiction;
  • Has a financial interest that might be materially affected by the public servant’s official duties (different from the effect on the public at large);
  • Is officially affiliated with any person described above, i.e., is an owner, partner, officer, director, trustee, employee, or agent of such a person

Sponsoring Agency 

  • the City agency conducting a solicitation under this Regulation; or
  • if more than one agency is involved, the City agency designated to coordinate the solicitation.