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Archive for October, 2011

We’ve discussed a number of topics related to developing your idea to address a need in your community and ways to organize your efforts to achieve your goals.  It is my hope that these topics have been helpful to you as you begin and/or proceed on your journey.  I may not have been as exhaustive in my information as you may need; however, these entries can be used as a launching pad to help guide you in your search for more information.

I readily admit that there are many professionals in this field that are more experienced that I am, but I have a passion for this work and this blog was one way to share my thoughts and more than 15 years of experience.  If there are other related subjects you would like for me to cover, please let me know and I will do my best to create more “launching pads”.  If you want a particular subject to be covered more thoroughly, let me know.  Otherwise, I thank you for taking this journey with me and I pray that all of your efforts are successful.

And speaking of “your efforts”…are you ready to take the plunge?  What’s stopping you from moving forward?  Nothing stops an idea better than inaction.  Just go for it!!

Be strong and be blessed!

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As I write this entry, our family is preparing to witness our son participate in a horse-riding competition.  For most parents, attending competitions is an honored ritual – supporting our children as they prepare to succeed, compete with honor, and grow to become the productive citizens we pray they will be.  But this is not just an ordinary contest – the contestants have overcome not just learning how to ride, but how to perform many everyday tasks we take for granted.

Now I can’t speak for every competitor because I don’t know them personally, but because this competition is geared toward those with special needs, I can only imagine what they may have had to overcome.  As for our son, he continues to recover from autism slowly but surely.  We thank God for the resources and people He has brought into our life to assist him (and his proud mom and dad!).

I wanted to take this opportunity to “swell my chest” for my son AND daughter as they continue to mature in this thing called LIFE.  For those with children (biological, step, grand and otherwise), in the midst of serving your communities, congregants and constituents, show love to your children in any way you can (especially pray for them) – we don’t have them for long!

Be strong and be blessed!

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When it comes to nonprofits and their tax-exempt status, faith-based organizations (FBOs) must be especially careful when they decide to go beyond “having church” to providing services that benefit the community overall.  For example, when a FBO decides to go from developing Sunday School curriculum for its own use to developing and selling biblical children’s stories to be used by the general public…or when a FBO expands its transitional housing efforts from housing the homeless in their multi-purpose building to providing shelter in homes the FBO has purchased…or when a FBO intends to purchase land not just for a new church building but for other uses such as senior housing and small-shop retail…and the list can go on.

Even though the examples given above can be deemed as extensions of the FBOs overall mission, these “extensions” may be viewed by the Internal Revenue Service differently.  In fact, there are many recent examples of FBOs and their leaders being investigated by the federal government questioning their tax-exempt status.  Ultimately, these investigations were dropped, but the fact remains that as budgets tighten at the federal and state levels, government bodies will continue to aggressively seek additional sources of revenue and FBOs will continue to be potential targets as the line blurs between their charitable and auxiliary activities.

One way to address this possibility is for FBOs to establish independent organizations that can facilitate these activities without jeopardizing the FBOs tax-exempt status.  For example, using the “bible children’s stories” example from above, I would recommend that the FBO create a separate entity (e.g., a publishing company) that would develop, market and sell the products so that the tax-exempt status of the FBO would not be put into question – especially when the income of the publishing company begins to increase substantially.  In addition, if the FBO intends to secure grants for various charitable activities that will benefit the community as a whole, many philanthropic organizations cannot award grants directly to FBOs, but can make awards to non-profit organizations that facilitate these charitable activities.

The examples given above are merely for illustration and not intended to be definitive.  Case law is constantly evolving in this area, so please consult with a local attorney or CPA who can help you wade through these waters.  If you have questions or comments that would help broaden this discussion, please respond.

Be strong and be blessed!

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