Tennessee’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming is stepping up enforcement of new provisions of the Charitable Solicitations Act governing receptacles for donations of used clothing and household items.
According to announcement released statewide Monday by Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the division has been working with organizations in the state for the past three months to ensure they are in compliance with the new statutes that went into effect July 1.
The deadline for compliance, which was Monday, requires all collection receptacles, including donation bins, shipping containers or trailers, to be labeled with information including multiple points of contact for contributors to seek more information about where their donations are going.
The new regulations also require operators to obtain notarized permission from the property owner or leaseholder of the site where the bins are located, to empty the bins at least every two weeks and to remove any items left outside a bin within 24 hours.
The rules apply to for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations and professional solicitors who collect donations on behalf of other organizations. Operators who fail to comply must remove the receptacle until it is in compliance or face civil penalties including a fine of up to $5,000 per violation or a court order to cease operation.
A press release announcing stepped up enforcement states, “Many organizations are following the new law, but some continue to not be in compliance. One bin operator left the state because of the statute while a handful of others claim they are in the process of leaving.”
Hargett said in the release, "We have spent the last three months helping organizations get in compliance but the time has come to ensure this is enforced. The law mandates bin operators disclose invaluable information that lets Tennesseans know exactly where their donation is going before they drop anything inside a bin."
Adam Ghassemi, director of communications for Hargett’s office, said the new regulations are intended to help those who donate identify who is collecting the donations and how the donations are being used — whether it is for or charitable purposes or for the profit of the operator.
Ghassemi said the regulations are also designed to protect the property owners, particularly those who own or lease retail properties where bins have previously been placed without their knowledge or permission, and allowed to overflow and becoming unsightly.
The division is encouraging the public to to report any bin in question by snapping photos and posting them to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram along with information on the bin’s location using the hashtag #BinCheck. The public may also call the division at 615-741-2555 or go to sos.tn.gov/charitable/donation-bins for more information.