CalNonprofits Articles

Looking for extra funds? Some of the State Controller’s $6.9 billion in Unclaimed Property may belong to you, or your organization!

Nonprofits are always looking for additional funds, but one source that many do not know about is California’s Unclaimed Property Program. The Alzheimer’s Association of San Diego found $113,000, the San Diego Zoo found more than $72,000, and United Way of California retrieved more than $34,000. Since 2007, State Controller John Chiang has returned $2.7 billion in lost and forgotten cash – in addition to 181 million stock shares – to individuals and businesses, and he wants to make sure that nonprofits are claiming every dollar owed to them of the $6.9 billion available.


California’s Unclaimed Property Law was passed in 1959 to protect consumers by preventing businesses from keeping unclaimed property, using it as business income, losing it through mergers or bankruptcies, or drawing it down by fees. After losing contact with an owner for at least three years, businesses are required to send unclaimed or abandoned property to the State for safekeeping until the owner or heirs can be found and the property claimed.

The most common types of unclaimed property include cash or assets abandoned in bank accounts, terminated insurance policies, forgotten utility deposits, and stocks and bonds. Other types of unclaimed property include precious valuables or collector’s items found abandoned in safe deposit boxes.

The average amount claimed is more than $700, and you may have money waiting for you. To make the claiming process even easier, the Controller’s Office now allows more than 18 million accounts worth less than $500 to be claimed online through electronic filing, with payments generally issued within 14 days.

Unclaimed property for nonprofit organizations and businesses can include uncashed donations, forgotten financial accounts, and even refunds from vendors. You can search for and claim what rightfully belongs to your organization – for free – on the Controller’s website at, or by calling the Controller’s Unclaimed Property Division toll free at 1 (800) 992-4647.


+1 # Kris Lev-Twombly 2014-02-18 12:22
CalNonprofits has also been working with the State Controller's Office and the Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez on Assembly Bill 1712, which would make it more feasible for parent nonprofit organizations to claim unclaimed assets from dissolved affiliate organizations. The bill text can be found here: More to come on this legislation in the coming weeks!
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0 # Patty 2014-02-14 15:30
My parents each passed away more than 20 years ago. My brother and I last summer learned of an $8,600 life insurance policy. We jointly submitted the paperwork and got our checks last week. It felt like a gift from the heavens. It is a tremendous service. Thank you for spotlighting it.

My advice: To get your claim processed in a timely manner, it truly helps to be systematic and provide all of the documentation at one time. Our claim got processed fairly quickly because we went step by step with each piece of documentation. I even used a first day cover (for the issuing of a new stamp; my father was a stamp collector) because it was the only evidence I could think of for how to prove the address on the life insurance policy was valid (an address no one from the family had live at for 56 years).

Thank you for spotlighting it.
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0 # Christina 2014-02-14 11:06
I found $546 for my Dad last week! It's worth taking 3 minutes to check if you (or your family or organization) are owed anything. What I found was totally unexpected - and it made me the favorite daughter (at least for a day)!
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