Shoppers and merchants have expressed concerns about people and organizations who use the Village sidewalks to solicit funds for various charitable causes. They have asked how to determine which are legitimate and which may not be authorized to solicit by the City of Oakland. Most of the causes for which these solicitations are being conducted are ones we might support, but it is helpful to know which ones are authorized and which are not.
Basically, anyone representing a charitable organization who is soliciting funds in the City of Oakland is required to have two items in his or her possession at all times:
- A valid City of Oakland permit
- An ID card showing their are an authorized solicitor for the organization
Anyone not having these documents is not authorized to be soliciting in the City. You have the right to demand to see them or refuse to donate if they can’t produce them. Saying the permit is “on file” with the City or the State, or that they don’t need one is not acceptable or correct; they are required to have a copy of the permit when soliciting.
The MVA has created a “Policy Regarding Groups Wishing to Solicit Funds on the Streets of Montclair Village.” You can download a copy to give to any solicitor you encounter on the street. We also have a copy of an actual permit which you can also download.
Here’s what our Policy says:
Although Freedom of Speech legislation permits solicitation of funds in public areas, shoppers in Montclair Village have complained about being hassled by too many groups when trying to shop here. And, they have asked for help in determining which groups are legitimate and which may not be.
In order to maintain effectiveness for both merchants and soliciting organizations, we ask all organizations who have a valid Solicitor’s Permit from the City of Oakland to call the MVA office at 510-339-1000 to be scheduled on our Solicitors Calendar. We will make every effort to accommodate your requested solicitation times, but will be working to manage the number of solicitors on the streets at any one time.
Please be aware:
- All organization or individuals wishing to solicit funds, contributions or subscriptions in Montclair Village (or anywhere in the City of Oakland) must have a valid permit from the City of Oakland. This applies to all commercial and charitable groups, including national charitable organizations and local schools & youth activities.
- If the solicitation is for a charitable cause, permits are issued by the City Administrator’s office and enforced by the Oakland Police Department.
- Charitable organizations must file proof of their charitable 501(c)(3) status.
- When funds or donations are being solicited, each person must be carrying their own valid Permit copy, along with appropriate organization ID. A sample is attached. They must be able to produce it when requested.
- The cost of a permit is normally $20, and the duration can be as long as a year.
- The Records Division of the Oakland Police Department (OPD) handles commercial solicitor permits, which require the applicant to go through the fingerprinting and criminal background check process.
- Distributors of free printed matter and newspapers are not subject to the permit rule if they are not asking for donations or subscriptions. If they are, the commercial permit requirement applies.
- The OPD will be contacted if a solicitor for funds, donations, contributions or subscriptions is unable to show a valid permit.
Thanks for your cooperation.