Charity bin enforcement binge launched under new law

Excerpt from a WPLN report:
The agency that oversees Tennessee charities is getting serious about the donation bins often found in grocery store parking lots after inspectors spent four months scrutinizing the drop-off sites and found hundreds of non-compliant bins.

Since July, a new state law requires bins to be cleared every two weeks and to be accurately labeled.

Now the grace period ends and inspectors will begin handing out fines up to $5,000.

The state estimates as many as 600 bins aren’t properly labeled, out of roughly 2,500 statewide. And some sketchy companies have been dodging inspectors, according to the Secretary of State’s office. In one case, in Chattanooga, a company never responded to calls or mailings, ultimately leading inspectors to tape notices about the law change onto their bins.

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Nashville, Tennessee – (November 2, 2015) – The Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming has been working with organizations throughout Tennessee for the last three months to ensure they are in compliance with a new section of the Charitable Solicitations Act that went into effect July 1.

Beginning November 2, companies operating any collection receptacle, including donation bins, shipping containers or trailers, must either have proper labeling or remove the receptacle until it is in compliance. Organizations that fail to follow the statute will face civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation or an injunction to cease operation. The division sent out letters about this deadline last month.

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.

“We have spent the last three months helping organizations get in compliance, but the time has come to ensure this is enforced,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “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.”

T.C.A. §48-101-513(m) outlines specific labeling guidelines that are now required for non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations and professional solicitors, which provide donors with multiple ways to contact the organization(s) that are collecting donations. Each bin must be emptied every two weeks, and any items left outside must be removed within 24 hours. The law also requires that bin operators get notarized permission for placement from property owners or leaseholders.

Secretary Hargett continues to encourage the public to get involved by snapping photos of any donation bin in Tennessee and posting it to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag “#BinCheck” as a way to report a bin in question. Posts should also include the bin’s approximate location, including street, city, county and any business it may be near.

The public can always call the division at (615) 741-2555 or go to sos.tn.gov/charitable/donation-bins for more information.