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Old 02-16-07, 11:08 PM   #1
N_C
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Going to start a new non-profit organization.

I have decided to start a new non-profit organzation. This is because the Siouxland Trails Foundation, STF, is only focusing on trails & nothing more. They are not going to focus on on street facilities or issues.

After making the contacts to create the Siouxland Trails Foundation I know what I need to do to create the new organization. The first step is contact people I think will be interested in joining. So far there is myself, my wife & a friend who works at my LBS. My buddy worked with Missoula In Motion when he went to school on Montana. So he has experience in helping with this.

The people I will contact will be from city hall, the parks & rec. dept., the MPO, STF & the local bike club, that I think would be a good fit for this.

After I get a list of people & a name to call ourselves I will contact an attorney friend of mine, who is also a cyclist & ask that he draw up the articles of incorporation & by-laws.

We will probably not do any fundraising, but we will do grant writting, endorsements & if possible lobby legislature. Our first focus will be to adopt a Complete Streets Policy.

One thing that I will not allow to happen is for the new non-profit to compete with the STF or undermine their efforts & work. After all I helped create it why would I want to destroy something that I helped build.

I am not very creative when coming up with a name for an organization like this. Can anyone here help? I live in Sioux City, Iowa, the regional area is called Siouxland as well as the Tri-State area, not to mention the 2 Rivers area.

What do you think?
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Old 02-16-07, 11:29 PM   #2
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I can't help you with a name, hell I named my cat "Kat"! I'm not very creative.
But when you are done in Iowa can you come to Michigan and do some work???
BTW, 2 Rivers sounds familiar. I think I did some hunting in that area a few years ago. Is it anywhere near Guthrie Center?
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Old 02-17-07, 02:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by N_C
This is because the Siouxland Trails Foundation, STF, is only focusing on trails & nothing more. They are not going to focus on on street facilities or issues.
Who'd have thunk it with a name like that?
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Old 02-17-07, 09:46 PM   #4
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I would dissuade you from starting a new nonprofit. You can conduct the activities that you describe without being an 501c3. In fact, if you’re looking at lobbying, becoming a nonprofit will impede your ability to promote specific legislation. If you feel the need to incorporate, I would recommend you look for an existing corporate sponsor with a good mission match. Are you aware of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition?
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Old 02-17-07, 10:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Noah Scape
I would dissuade you from starting a new nonprofit. You can conduct the activities that you describe without being an 501c3. In fact, if you’re looking at lobbying, becoming a nonprofit will impede your ability to promote specific legislation. If you feel the need to incorporate, I would recommend you look for an existing corporate sponsor with a good mission match. Are you aware of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition?
I'm a member of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, of course I've heard of it. There are ways to lobby as a non-profit. Without being a non-profit we may not be listened to by those we need to address these issues with.
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Old 02-17-07, 11:15 PM   #6
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In fact, if youíre looking at lobbying, becoming a nonprofit will impede your ability to promote specific legislation.
How are they related?
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Old 02-18-07, 12:40 AM   #7
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How are they related?
In the US there are laws that limit lobbying by 501c3 nonprofits. While those laws leave much to be interpreted, they do set limits that can be exceeded. A group of private citizens does not have such limits. My real point, however, was to encourage coalescing with an existing organization that is working on the same issues. To be successful in your mission requires capacity. Start up nonprofits, unless they are endowed or have a large and active membership, have little capacity to pursue their mission. Meanwhile, competition for funding is sophisticated and fierce. I donít want to quell enthusiasm, but rather offer a realistic view of the world of nonprofit entrepreneurial pursuits.
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Old 02-18-07, 12:25 PM   #8
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In the US there are laws that limit lobbying by 501c3 nonprofits. While those laws leave much to be interpreted, they do set limits that can be exceeded. A group of private citizens does not have such limits.
Ok, do you not have a distinction between a non-profit corporation and a registered charity? In Canada a registered charity is limited in its political activities, but a non-profit is no more limited than any other corporation in that regard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Scape
My real point, however, was to encourage coalescing with an existing organization that is working on the same issues. To be successful in your mission requires capacity. Start up nonprofits, unless they are endowed or have a large and active membership, have little capacity to pursue their mission. Meanwhile, competition for funding is sophisticated and fierce. I donít want to quell enthusiasm, but rather offer a realistic view of the world of nonprofit entrepreneurial pursuits.

Oh, I agree, but the "I'll start my own group" thing is pretty popular.
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Old 02-18-07, 12:47 PM   #9
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Ok, do you not have a distinction between a non-profit corporation and a registered charity? In Canada a registered charity is limited in its political activities, but a non-profit is no more limited than any other corporation in that regard.
It doesn't work that way here in the US. That's why lots of organizations that lobby actually have two organizations that must remain financially independent. For example, there's the ACLU (not a not-for-profit) that can lobby, and the ACLU Foundation (a not-for-profit) that can lobby. Contributions to the ACLU are not tax deductable. Contributions to the ACLU Foundation are. Examples exist on the other side of politics, too.

As to the OP, I'd get the organization going first, then look at structure. Make sure you can get enough people to show up at the meetings on a regular basis before going through the hassle of incorporating.
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Old 02-18-07, 12:55 PM   #10
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It doesn't work that way here in the US. That's why lots of organizations that lobby actually have two organizations that must remain financially independent. For example, there's the ACLU (not a not-for-profit) that can lobby, and the ACLU Foundation (a not-for-profit) that can lobby. Contributions to the ACLU are not tax deductable. Contributions to the ACLU Foundation are. Examples exist on the other side of politics, too.

For us, contributions to a registered charity are tax deductible, but not to a non-profit. Being a non-profit only means the corporation does not operate with a goal of making money, thus the directors are relieved of the obligation to maximize profits. I'm sure there are many tax differenced too.

Of the many community groups I have been in/around/part of, one was a charity the others all non-profits. Getting that charity designation is understandably hard.
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Old 02-18-07, 01:29 PM   #11
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For us, contributions to a registered charity are tax deductible, but not to a non-profit. Being a non-profit only means the corporation does not operate with a goal of making money, thus the directors are relieved of the obligation to maximize profits. I'm sure there are many tax differenced too.

Of the many community groups I have been in/around/part of, one was a charity the others all non-profits. Getting that charity designation is understandably hard.
There are non-profits who can lobby (501c4 groups if I remember right), but contributions to them are not tax deductable.

I stand by my original comment. Until N_C can get a core group of people to regularly attend meetings, he shouldn't bother with setting up a corporate structure. Once he has a good group, he can look at forming a corporate structure to serve it. It shouldn't be the other way around.
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Old 02-18-07, 02:21 PM   #12
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As to the OP, I'd get the organization going first, then look at structure. Make sure you can get enough people to show up at the meetings on a regular basis before going through the hassle of incorporating.
That is how I did it with STF. The first person I called is an CPA, she gave me names & numbers to call, some of which I already had. I called those folks, we got a meeting set up, met, discussed our like minded ideas & it went from there. In fact we met more then once before we decided to become a non-profit.

Since it worked so well the last time I do it the same way again. We will decide whether or not to become a non-profit at some point. Since we are not going to be doing any fund raising outside of endorsing grant requests or writting grant applications we may not need to be an non-profit.
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