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Best efforts to document receipts

gCommittees and their treasurers must make best efforts to obtain and maintain (and ultimately report) the information required by law with respect to itemized receipts and disbursements. When reporting information is incomplete, the political committee and the treasurer will be in compliance with the law if they can demonstrate that they used “best efforts” in trying to obtain, maintain and report the needed information. The criteria for making “best efforts” vary, depending on the type of transaction.

Candidate committees

If an individual who has contributed more than $200 during the election cycle fails to provide the required recordkeeping information (that is, name, mailing address, occupation and employer), the candidate's authorized committee must be able to show that it made “best efforts” to obtain, maintain and report that information.

To demonstrate “best efforts,” the committee must be able to show that it requested the information—first, in the solicitation materials that prompted the contribution and, second, if the information is not obtained, in a follow-up request.

Furthermore, if the requested information is not received until after the contribution has been reported, the committee must report the information using one of the procedures described in the section "File amendments if necessary."

In solicitation materials

To satisfy the "best efforts" standard, the solicitation must include a statement explaining that the campaign is required to use its best efforts to obtain and report certain information from the contributor. The following examples are acceptable wording that may be included in the solicitations (other statements of similar meaning may also be used):

"Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in an election cycle"
"To comply with Federal law, we must use our best efforts to obtain, maintain and submit the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 per election cycle."

The request for the information and the best efforts notification must be clear and conspicuous, as described on this page in the section “Requirements for all committees.”

Party committees, PACs, and SSFs

If an individual who has contributed more than $200 during the calendar year fails to provide the required recordkeeping information (name, mailing address, occupation and employer), a party committee, political action committee (PAC) or separate segregated fund (SSF) must be able to show that it made "best efforts" to obtain and report that information. To demonstrate "best efforts," the committee must be able to show that it requested the information—first, in the solicitation materials that prompted the contribution and, second, in a follow-up request.

Furthermore, if the requested information is not received until after the contribution has been reported, the committee must report the information using one of the procedures described in the section "File amendments if necessary."

Solicitation materials

To satisfy the "best efforts" standard, solicitation materials must include an accurate and clear statement of the law's requirements for the collection and reporting of contributor information. The following examples are acceptable wording that may be included in the solicitations (other statements of similar meaning may also be used):

“Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year;” or
“To comply with federal law, we must use best efforts to obtain, maintain and submit the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 per calendar year.”

The request for the information and the best efforts notification must be clear and conspicuous, as described on this page in the section “Requirements for all committees.”

Requirements for all committees

Clear and conspicuous notice and request

The request for the information and the best efforts notification must be clear and conspicuous. If the solicitations include response materials, the best efforts notice and the request for the contributor information must be placed on these materials. The notice will not be considered to be "clear and conspicuous" if:

  • The notification is printed in smaller type than the solicitation and response materials;
  • The printing is difficult to read; or
  • The notification is placed where it can be easily overlooked.

Follow-up request within 30 days

If the contributor does not provide sufficient reporting information when making a contribution, the committee must make at least one request for the information after the contribution is received. This follow-up request must be made for any solicited or unsolicited contribution that exceeds the $200 threshold and lacks the necessary information.

The request must be made within 30 days of receipt of the contribution; it may not include an additional solicitation or material on any other subject, but it may thank the contributor. The follow-up request may be made orally or in writing, but a written request must be accompanied by a pre-addressed envelope for the response. Requests made by telephone must be documented in a memorandum. Committees must retain records of follow-up requests.

Use of information from prior records

If the contributor does not respond to the follow-up request, but the committee possesses the information in its contributor records, fundraising records or prior reports filed during the same election cycle, then the committee must use that information when disclosing the contribution.

File amendments if necessary

If requested information about a contribution is received after the contribution has been disclosed on a report, the committee must either:

  • File a memo Schedule A with its next regularly scheduled report, listing all contributions for which new contributor information has been received; or
  • File amendments to the original reports.

In either case, the entries must cross-reference to the prior reports to which they relate. However, the committee is only required to submit the information for contributions received during the current two-year election cycle.

Statement of best efforts procedures

Providing a detailed description of "best efforts" procedures in accordance with the regulations may help prevent inquiries from the FEC for missing contributor information.