Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 2013-09-10 18:33:17
Lay the Groundwork for Long-term Fundraising: Start a Club Foundation After the last audience member filed out of their sold-out “Laughs for Lions” comedy benefit, the Kamehameha Lions in Honolulu, Hawaii, basked in the success of this first-time fundraiser. As they began looking toward the next year’s event, they also began thinking about how to maximize their fundraising efforts. It seemed like the right time to explore the possibility of creating a club foundation. There are close to 2,000 Lions club, district and multiple district foundations around the world. Creating a foundation is a way for Lions to expand fundraising capabilities, offer donors tax-deductible contributions and receive tax exemptions. It may seem like a no-brainer to establish a foundation, but taking this leap requires answering a few key questions. Is It Right For Our Club? Not every club may have the fundraising demands or need for a foundation. The Kamehameha Lions felt a foundation could give them an edge with donors in an increasingly competitive charitable giving environment. Explains Jim Bryan, “Although our club had been well-established in the community since 1948, by establishing our 501(c)3 foundation, we will be able to give our donors peace of mind that they will be dealing with a legally documented entity with public accountability.” The Darien Lions in Illinois have been operating their foundation since 2001. “We wanted to assure perpetuity of funding for the needs of our community,” says Jim Kiser, president. The Lions also wanted to become more attractive to business donors. Kiser points out, “Businesses are much more likely to donate to a 501(c)3 because of the tax advantages.” Can We Commit? The Kamehameha Lions learned about the requirements for launching and maintaining a foundation. “It takes an enormous amount of tedious work and detailed dedication to properly establish a foundation and make it a credible entity,” says Bryan. “There is no ‘quickie’ way of doing it. It has to be taken just as seriously as any business.” Clubs must complete the LCI requirements of submitting an application, resolution, bylaws and articles of incorporation. Lions also need to navigate IRS and state regulations and have enduring volunteer dedication for a foundation’s ongoing and changing needs. “There are all kinds of new regulations at both the federal and state levels,” Kiser warns. How Do We Get Started? An absolute necessity when forming a foundation is to seek legal counsel. LCI can connect clubs with its partner, CT, an industry leader in legal services, for assistance. Or clubs can find counsel independently, as the Kamehameha Lions are doing. “None of us had any prior experience in starting a foundation, so we brought in outside legal and financial assistance to ensure we’re getting off on the right foot,” says Bryan. Clubs should budget at least $3,000 to start a foundation and plan for ongoing legal and financial guidance, but can save on fees if they have members with expertise or can recruit community members to help. When the Darien Lions began working on creating their foundation, they smartly put members in charge who could apply their relevant expertise: a CPA, attorneys and government officials. All of the hard work can pay off when a foundation boosts donations to help Lions serve. A foundation can also bring Lions some welcomed peace of mind, Kiser notes. “The biggest advantage is knowing that we will always have the dollars to help those in need.” Contact the LCI Legal Division (630-203-3847 or firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions about foundation requirements. Find sample documents and application materials in the Member Center at www.lionsclubs.org (search for “Legal”).
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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