Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Review: Fundraisers

When I was browsing the WeE-book selections, Easy Fundraising for Homeschool Organizations caught my attention.  I had just come from a co-op planning meeting where we had come up with several speakers we’d like to book, but the question always arose: “How do we pay the speaking fee?”  That led the conversation to wishlists of equipment and supplies we could keep at the church for our meetings and how could we afford them.   Perhaps this book would provide some answers.  I was also curious about the more technical aspects of fundraising—I was an accountant for large non-profit organization for the last 13 years (think of little girls selling baked goods door-to-door). 


There is a lot of ground for this little e-book to cover—fundraising ideas, tax implications,  reporting,  legal issues, etc.  The author relies on several links to direct you to websites where you can do more research on your own (I would consider the additional research essential).  You should note that one of her links to Homeschoolcpa.com does not work—the “c” is left out of the embedded link even though it appears in the text.


I was pleasantly surprised to learn homeschool organizations can qualify for coupon and reward programs I would have thought were limited to schools.  This will be one of the first things I share with my co-op ladies next month.  How great that our group can benefit from the shopping I have to do anyway.  A further step would be to set up an affiliate program where the group can benefit from other people’s shopping. Both ideas are covered well with links to established programs.


Another topic involves soliciting donations.  The author mentions that it’s very helpful to obtain  501c3 status so donors can deduct their contributions.   I would suggest that it’s almost mandatory if you want to deal with national corporations.  In my old job we were constantly receiving monetary grants from corporations and having to issue checks to pass the funds on to the troops because the council had the 501c3 designations and the troops did not.   The article does not mention how much time and effort is involved in obtaining the status (setting up a board of directors, establishing bylaws, annual reporting) which I believe puts it out of consideration for most parents.  We have enough trouble fitting  housework, schooltime, and church activities into our schedule.  It may be possible to receive merchandise from these corporations without the 501c3 status, or perhaps you can deal with “mom and pop” stores or individuals who do not care about charitable deductions.


Lastly, the WeE-book does mention reporting funds raised  to the IRS.  The  few examples listed lead me to believe in most cases this is not necessary, but there is a link to IRS guidelines to investigate further.  There is also a link to a website dealing with reporting requirements at a state level.  There is no mention of other legalities that should be researched before undertaking a fundraiser.  I understand that this is a brief e-book and the laws of individual states and municipalities is beyond the scope of its content, but I think there should have been a warning that further research is necessary.  For example, a common fundraiser is to host a spaghetti supper or bake sale.  In the state I moved from, there is new legislation requiring certified food handlers for these types of events.  Is it worth the trouble for a member of the group to go through the certification process?

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