This year we took on the challenge of becoming our own independent 501.3c. Since our inception we have been a "pass through" organization under the"umbrella" of another non-profit; Seacoast Area Bike Routes/Riders (SABR). It was a very smart way to start our organization as it allowed us to instantly start receiving donations without all the costs and time associated with establishing a new independent 501.3c.
So why change? Well. as our organization grows, and our goals expand there are reasons why we becoming your own 501.3c makes sense. The most motivating factor is our ability to apply for grants (i.e. Grants from places like People for Bikes, The NorthFace, etc). These grants represent the financial support we need to grow and are largely only available to independent 501.3c organizations. We quite simply would not be eligible as a "pass through" organization. It is a bit of a bet; we will spend several hundred dollars to establish our independent non-profit status and if the grants don't come....well. But we have a crack team on this and I am confident we will prevail.
Becoming our own non-profit takes time, costs money and is hard work. We had to establish by-laws, articles of incorporation and an official board. (Somehow I was elected president). We will have to handle our own taxes, bank accounts and other traditional business costs.
So what does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, I think it means that we need to be patient. (read here that I need to be patient) I have always pushed for us to keep taking on more, keep expanding, stay focused on our vision. Anytime I have been afraid we will not have enough money or staff for a given program or event - I have pushed on; "We will pay for it somehow" or "we will find the staff". This approach has been largely successful but at the cost of some of our very committed volunteers and temporarily, my personal bank balance.
We will expand in 2015 but more cautiously. We plan to move across the river to Kittery, working with the local recreation department. More importantly in 2015 we will be building the foundation for real growth in 2016. So part of the art of patience for me will be keeping my eye on the prize; 2016.