I am a federal candidate or committee, what should I use in my filings as the Date of Receipt for donations received via Democracy Engine?
Federal law and Federal Election Commission regulations state that a campaign should report the date the donation was processed as the “date of receipt”. It is this point when the donor becomes liable to their card company for the donation and is, therefore, when the donation has been “made.”
This is the date we provide in our exportable data files (please note that the first date column is in “Universal Time,” and may require adjustment; therefore, we also provide alternative date columns (columns BZ, CA, CB, and CC) in our data files for ET, CT, MT and PT in the US).
This rule is covered in the applicable regulation (11 CFR 102.8) and explained in the published guidance of the Commission (you can find by clicking here) concerning donations via intermediaries such as Democracy Engine, ActBlue and joint fundraising committees.
However, we are aware that some of you are receiving guidance that you should use the date we transmit the funds to you (ie the date a check was cut or the date the funds were deposited to your account) instead of the date of the actual donation in your reports.
The reasoning behind this advice is what we understand to be a decision by the Reports Analysis Division of the FEC, which offers an unofficial “safe haven” policy with regard to the 48-hour reporting requirements that apply to the 20 days immediately prior to elections. During these tight reporting windows, RAD allows campaigns to use the transmittal date in their reporting instead of the date of donation.
As a result of this safe haven offered by RAD around 48-hour reporting, some campaigns are receiving advice to use the transmittal date (not the date of donation) in all reporting, including End of Quarter reports.
While we feel that RAD is exercising its “prosecutorial discretion” in a responsible manner in offering this safe haven, we do wish to note that a safe haven does not change the applicable regulations (which require one to report the “date of receipt” as the “date of donation”); it has, however, changed how some compliance firms advise their clients to report donations.
Democracy Engine provides two options to campaigns looking to thread this needle:
1) You can set an alert in Democracy Engine, which will send a donation notification via email to one or multiple addresses. The email provides all the information required to file Form 6 with the FEC. This is particularly helpful if you are in a required 48 hour report deadline. These emails generally go out about 20 minutes after the donation is made, providing 47+ hours to make a timely filing.
This setting can be found by logging into your account through https://recipient.democracyengine.com and going to the Settings tab. If you are not sure how to set this up or have questions, just ask. We’re here to help (Support@DemocracyEngine.com).
2) We also offer end of quarter checks for those campaigns set up in our system for weekly check distribution. Unfortunately, at this point in time, we do not offer the option of receiving checks only at the end of filing periods. If you currently receive direct deposits, we can switch you over to check distributions, so you can receive EoQ checks. Just drop us a note at email@example.com and we’ll gladly cut your campaign checks each week instead of depositing your funds via direct deposit.
We’re here to work with you and while the law is clear that you can (and should) use the date of donation as the “date of receipt” in your filings, we understand that reality is more complicated. Just let us know how we can support you based on how you handle compliance filings with the FEC.