Search Results for: fundraiser

Does your homeschool group have fundraisers? You may need to register in your state

Carol,

We’re a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization (Thanks for helping us with that!). In your letter to us you say that if we “solicit contributions” we may need to register in our state. We don’t ask for donations, but we do have several fundraisers each year. Are our fundraisers considered “solicited contributions”?

Jennifer in Georgia

Jennifer,

Congratulations on your 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. Now it’s time to determine what your state requires from your organization.

Charitable solicitation registration

My source for information on nonprofit fundraisers is Nolo’s Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50 State Guide

The Guide explains that 39 states (and the District of Columbia) require registration from nonprofit organizations that solicit donations in their state. (This is all nonprofits, not just those with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.)

Definition of charitable solicitation

“Solicit contributions is defined broadly…Charitable solicitations don’t always have to involve asking for a donation. Offering to sell a product or service that includes a representation that all or part of the money received will be devoted to a charitable organization or charitable purpose is considered a charitable solicitation and triggers the registration requirement.”

So, fundraisers are included in the definition of charitable solicitations. That means if your homeschool group holds a fundraiser, you probably need to register in  your state. But keep reading…

Exemptions

The good news is that all states offer exemptions to their charitable registration for certain types of nonprofits. One common exemption is for small nonprofits:

“Most states exempt very small nonprofits from registering. In most states “small” is defined by a nonprofit’s gross revenues, not the number of members it has. In many states (about 16) a nonprofit qualifies for this exemption if it has annual gross revenues of less than $25,000.”

Nolo’s webpage with more exceptions to charitable registration

I researched the exemption rules in Georgia (it was included in the Form 1023-EZ Application for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status service that I provided to Jennifer’s organization ). I learned that Georgia offers an exemption from charitable registration  for nonprofits whose total revenue from contributions has been less than $25,000.00 for both the immediately preceding and current calendar years. Jennifer’s organization is under that $25,000 threshold in contributions and fundraisers, so she was happy to hear that her homeschool group did not need to register in Georgia. 🙂

Help for your homeschool organization

Determining whether your nonprofit is exempt from charity registration can be difficult. Exemptions vary from state to state. To determine whether your nonprofit is exempt in your state, you could look up the charitable solicitation laws of that state. The law is usually found on the Attorney General or Secretary of State’s website.

Or contact me, Carol Topp. I can do the research for you since I know what I am looking for!. This service includes drafting a letter for your board and future boards explaining the all required forms in your state with due dates. Cost: $50.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Is my homeschool graduation fundraiser breaking the law?

Hi Carol,
The past 3 years we have held a graduation. The graduate families have been doing the fundraising, with the amount earned going into our checking account and then paid out for speakers, food, programs, and etc. I am concerned after reading your book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization: A Guide For Treasurers that we have been doing this all wrong!
 Are we instead supposed to fund raise as a whole group, and have graduation as a budgeted item in place of creating the graduation fund in our checking account?
Thank you so much for all your help!

Heidi,

 

Heidi,

The fundraising to pay for the graduation expenses is fine. The fundraiser proceeds are going to an event that your homeschool organization operates, not to individual families.

What is prohibited by the IRS is private inurement which is when an organization earmarks fundraiser proceeds as belonging to specific families to defray their specific and particular expenses. That’s a no-no. The purpose of those fundraising monies to to further your exempt purpose (homeschooling), not to give a financial break to specific, individual families.

There was a homeschool group that showed me their spreadsheet of about 10 fundraisers(!) and the 20 families that participated and how each dollar of profit from the fundraiser was divvied up to each family. Yikes! It was a record-keeping marvel, but prohibited by the IRS! I warned them to cease and desist immediately.

I think the graduation event should be included in your budget with both the revenues (parents paying money and the fundraisers proceeds) and the expenses (speakers, food, programs, etc) recorded.

 I hope that helps,
Carol Topp, CPA

 

 Learn more about managing money and IRS tax exempt status for your homeschool organization

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Scrips fundraisers for homeschool groups

Carol,
Our homeschool coop’s sports team decided to do a fundraiser using Scrips. The group is going to make each individual player buy their uniform instead of renting it from the team. So last August, the co-op started individual family accounts using money made from Scrips to be able to be applied toward buying individual uniforms.
According to some of the information I just read on your website (http://homeschoolcpa.com/do-not-use-individual-fund-raising-accounts/), I am concerned that this violates the rules for 501 c(7) non-profit social groups.
Am I understanding it correctly that allowing individual athletes to fund raise using Scrips to offset individual uniform cost is not allowed for 501 c(7) non-profits? Is this truly is an improper use of fundraising proceeds?
Thank you so much,
Elizabeth

Elizabeth,

You are correct that usually individual fundraising accounts are prohibited for 501c tax exempt organizations as I wrote about here and  here.

But Scrip is an exception to the “No individual fundraiser accounts” rule.

Great Lakes Scrip requested a private letter ruling from the IRS in 2009 stating that their program does not create income to the parent or inurement because they are rebates and not payment for services. BTW, these IRS private letter rulings cost thousands of dollars.

The IRS letter is 9 pages long and probably more than you care to read. Fortunately, Great Lakes Scrip provides a a nice, plain-English summary of the tax implications from using their scrip program.

“we want to reassure you that crediting your members’ scrip rebates toward their tuition or other fees has been reviewed and approved by the IRS, if you have structured your program correctly.” -Great Lakes Scrip
Take a little time to read the document from Great Lakes Scrip to be sure you are running your Scrips program correctly.

 

And one other word of warning come from Blue Avocado (a great source of information on running a nonprofit organization):
Regular scrip often results in a nonprofit handling a good deal more money than it ever has previously. For example, an all-volunteer group may be used to handling hundreds of dollars, but with scrip they may be handling tens of thousands of dollars in a short period of time. Doing so requires conscientious volunteers who have strong ability to manage funds carefully, promptly, and ethically.

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping homeschool leaders with legal and tax compliance

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What Homeschool Leaders Don’t Know About Fundraisers

What Homeschool Leaders Don’t Know About Fundraisers

Carol Topp, CPA, the HomeschoolCPA will share tips on important issues that homeschool leaders may not know about. This episode will focus on helping homeschool leaders know the tax rules about fundraisers.

Listen to the podcast

 

MONEY MANAGEMENT FOR HOMESCHOOL ORGANIZATIONS:  A GUIDE FOR TREASURERS 

  • Does your homeschool group manage their money well?
  • Do you have a budget and know where the money is spent?
  • Do you know how to prevent fraud?

This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement and hire workers. Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.

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Homeschool groups and huge fundraisers can be a bad thing!

Hey Carol –

I have been perusing your site as we are getting ready to start a new homeschool group (breaking off a larger group) in our area. Based on the info I have read, I feel that we identify the most as a 501c7 social group.

We will be offering clubs, fellowship, and field trips as our primary purpose. As a larger homeschool group, we have sold Discount Cards with local businesses/restaurants giving certain discounts to patrons. We sold them for $5 each. This has been a huge fundraiser for the bigger group. One box of cards is $5,000 (not all profit as there is expense from the printing).

My question is if as a new group we could sell these to help with our expenses and if the UBI would be taxable? We definitely want to do things correctly. The sellers would be the members of the group and done voluntarily.

I appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks!

Joyell

Joyell,
Your organization avoids the UBIT tax because the fundraiser is conducted substantially (or in your case, completely) by volunteers.

But you need to be careful that at least 65% of your total income comes from membership dues. Therefore, a maximum of 35% your income can come from fundraisers. Note that this is income, not the net proceeds of your fundraiser.

Something like this:

Your group’s total income = $10,000

Membership dues (this can include field trip income) must be $6,5000 or more (at least 65% of total income)
Fundraiser income cannot be more than $3,500 (max of 35% of total income)

One of the problems with this type of fundraiser is that it brings in so much income (and of course has substantial expenses as well), it can that it can jeopardize your 501(c)(7) tax exempt status because the fundraiser income exceeds 35% of total income.

This may mean that you are no longer tax exempt and will owe taxes on your surplus each year.

IOW, the IRS requires 501(c)(7) social clubs organizations to get most of their funds from members and not from selling products or other fundraisers.

I hope that helps.

Carol Topp CPA

Will fundraisers cause a homeschool support group to pay taxes?

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I looked at the description of the 501c(7) Social Club status, and also reviewed your comparison chart between c3 and c7 status. I agree that our homeschool group most closely fit the 501(c)(7) Social Club status.

However, I was wondering if our periodic fundraisers would cause us to be taxed – your chart says on income from other sources.  We hold the fundraisers when our funds from membership are too low to pay the rent and other costs.
Thank you,
Lisa R

 

Lisa,

I’m glad you’ve figured out the differences between 501c3 charity and 501c7 Social club status. It’s important to figure out where your group fits.

You asked if periodic fundraisers would cause you to be taxed. It could be a problem, but not likely.

In general, fundraisers are considered “unrelated income” and nonprofits must pay tax on unrelated income (called Unrelated Business Income Tax, or UBIT).

Fortunately, the IRS offers several ways to avoid the UBIT tax. The exceptions include:

1. If the fundraiser was substantially conducted by volunteers (if no one was paid to run the fundraiser, then the proceeds are not taxed)

2. The fundraiser proceeds under $1,000 is not taxed.

The IRS has more exceptions to UBIT, but one or both of these exceptions to paying unrelated business income tax probably apply to your group.

Additionally, the IRS requires 501c7 Social Clubs to have most of their income come from membership fees (65% or more). You probably saw that on the chart comparing 501c3 to a 501c7 Social Club.

So make sure that your fundraisers stay under 35% of your total income. You said they are periodic and sound as if they are secondary to your membership fees (“We hold the fundraisers when our funds from membership are too low to pay the rent and other costs”).

I hope that helps.

Carol Topp, CPA

Ideas of easy fundraisers for homeschool groups

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Your homeschool organization probably looks for extra ways to bring in money. Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, shares ideas for easy fundraising in this episode of the Dollars And Sense Show podcast.

Listen to the podcast here

Easy fundraisers show notes:

Coupon and reward programs
Box Tops. Need 501c3 status
Shopping reward like Kroger Plus program
E Scrip

Food as a fundraiser
Pizza sales, bake sales to members
Candy, popcorn sales to public could impose a reporting to you state’s AG office
Restaurant (Chik-Fil-A) give a percent of proceeds from one night to your organization
Dinners as fundraisers

Donations
Via email, website, crowd funding, etc
Read-a-thon or walk-a-thon
Car washes and bake sales

Sell products
Ideas at TopSchoolFundraisers.com
Used curriculum sale. Charge an entrance fee, or a table fee to the sellers (or both!)

Reporting the Fundraiser income:
The IRS considers fundraisers to be unrelated to your nonprofit purpose and therefore, subject to taxation. Exceptions to the Unrelated Business Income tax:

  • Under $1,000 income from fundraisers in a year
  • All volunteer labor (no hired help to run the fundraiser)
  • Not regularly carried on
  • Selling donated items

State may require reporting to their attorney General if you sell to the public or solicit donations from the public. Usual exceptions are: only sales to members, a dollar threshold ($25,000 is common), all volunteer labor, but these vary by state.

Warning: No Individual fundraising accounts!
See http://homeschoolcpa.com/scouts-dont-allow-individual-fundraising-account-and-neither-should-you/

More information:
Money Mgmt HS OrgCover

Money Management in a Homeschool Organization book

Blog posts on fundraising: http://homeschoolcpa.com/tag/fund-raising/

Article “Easy Fundraisers for Homeschool Groups” at http://homeschoolcpa.com/leader-tools/articles/

 

If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. (click on View in iTunes to leave a review)

How to leave a review on iTunes

Thank you!

Carol Topp, CPA

Individual fundraisers and homeschool groups

Michelle in CO asked a question about fund raisers in a homeschool group:

Hi Carol,
We have had fund raisers in the past (butterbraids, a frozen pastry) and have made approx. $1,500 doing that fund raiser. We had a cooking class that prepared hot lunches and the co-op made money on those. We will have less than $100 left in the check book. We have a Fed ID #. What do we do? What about next year? Is fund raising not a good idea for us as you say in your website? We thought about charging more for membership (we charge $35/ yr now) and if people wanted to do individual fund raisers that would be up to each family. What do you think? Thank you so much for your help to the homeschool community and for whatever answers you can give us.
Sincerely,
Michelle P


Dear Michelle,

Did I say fund raising is not a good idea on my website? I didn’t mean to. Hopefully I just warned groups that fund raising can be a lot of work. And if you sell products to the public (outside your own membership) you may need to report your “solicitation” to your state. I’m writing an article now on fund raising and I do say this:

Your state may have reporting requirements if you are representing yourself to the public as a nonprofit organization. In my home state of Ohio, we have to file a Charity Registration form if we do fund raising to the public. One year we sold candles door to door and had to file a seven-page financial report with Ohio’s Attorney General Office. That report was such a nuisance (and the fund raiser was so much work) that we no longer do sales to the public. Investigate what your state requires from groups doing fund raisers. This website has nonprofit reporting requirements by state: http://www.hurwitasociates.com/.

In general I encourage groups to get most of their income from membership fees and not depend too much on fund raising. Fund raising can be very successful or turn out very poorly. It is also a lot of work with sometimes only a few people doing all the work.

I’m not sure what you mean by “individual fund raisers.” I do know that it is not proper to “award” a family for raising more money than another family, nor is it proper to set up individual accounts. It’s not right because it is not in keeping with the nonprofit motive or with the idea of a group benefit. In short, individuals are not supposed to benefit; the group is supposed to benefit.

Thank you for your kind words. I hope my website was helpful. I wish you success in Colorado as you serve homeschooling families!

Carol Topp, CPA

Used curriculum sales and taxes

When a homeschool group has a fund raiser like a used curriculum sale or mini-exhibit hall is the income taxable?
Thanks,
Dorothy
Dorothy,
Fundraisers are usually considered unrelated business income, meaning that the fundraiser activities are not related to your organization’s tax exempt purpose. In other words, a homeschool group’s purpose is education, not selling curriculum or hosting an exhibit hall.

 

Unrelated business income is taxable income. It’s called UBIT-unrelated business income tax.

 

From the IRS: Unrelated business income is income from a trade or business, regularly carried on, that is not substantially related to the charitable, educational, or other purpose that is the basis of the organization’s exemption. An exempt organization that has $1,000 or more of gross income from an unrelated business must file Form 990-T (and pay federal income tax).

 

Fortunately, the IRS has several exceptions to paying the UBIT tax:

  • A $1,000 threshold allows that the first $1,000 in gross revenues from an unrelated business will not be taxed.
  • If the fundraiser (or unrelated business) is run by volunteer efforts (i.e., no paid staff) then the proceeds are not taxed.
  • If the fundraiser is not regularly carried on, such as a once-a-year unsed curriculum sale, then the proceeds are not subject to UBIT.
  • If you are selling donated items, like in a garage sale, the income raised is not taxed.

One of these exceptions are bound to apply to most homeschool organizations.

So, while the income from an unrelated business activity may be taxable, in reality, no tax will be paid because one of the exceptions mentioned above applies.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Returning homeschool co-op supplies to parents

Carol,
How should our homeschool co-op should handle classes where there are nonconsumable items purchased?  We had a class where Lego kits were purchased for a class.  Students shared kits and we charged a small fee.  Now parents think they should get half of the kits or that future classes should have to pay for the kits and they receive a credit each time.
We have never done that with any classes in the past.  It has always just become property of the co-op.  It sounds like it would be a bookkeeping nightmare.
Thanks for your input,
Becky  in KY

Becky,

You’re right, tracking the LEGO kits sound like a bookkeeping nightmare.  I like to keep things simple but as fair as possible.

We had a similar situation in my homeschool co-op with Spanish books.  The teacher bought a curriculum to use and was planning on spreading out the cost of the teacher manuals and CDs over two years of students. It took some guess work to figure out how many students she would have this year as well as future years.  In the end we decided  that this year’s students would end up paying for a portion of the teachers books and CDs.  The rest of the cost was absorbed by the co-op as a whole. The co-op then owned the teacher books and CDs. Future Spanish classes were charged a small supply fee so that the co-op could recoup the cost of the teachers books and CDs.

I think the co-op should own non consumables, not the individual parents. Sounds like that’s how you have done it in the past. Parents pay a supply fee, but are not entitled to the equipment afterward nor a credit from future students.

So maybe instead of charging the current students full price for nonconsumables, your co-op could try to save up some money over a few years and purchase nonconsumable equipment that will be owned by the co-op. Or have a fundraiser to buy the equipment.

Carol Topp, CPA