Motivation to homeschool is changing. How does your group adapt?

Homeschool is changing! I know that you as a homeschool leader see those changes.

In her 2012 book Home Is Where the School Is, sociologist Jennifer Lois broadly divided homeschoolers into two groups: first-choice and second-choice homeschoolers.

A 2017 Pioneer Institute whitepaper characterized the groups this way: “The ‘first-choice’ family is in essence the traditional homeschooling family, viewing homeschooling as a lifestyle and an integral part of a student’s growth.

‘Second-choice’ homeschooling parents might be described as ‘pragmatic homeschoolers,’ perhaps even ‘reluctant homeschoolers.’ . . . this sub-set tends to view homeschooling as a stop-gap solution to a school-based problem as opposed to an overall family lifestyle.”

As more people start homeschooling for different motivations other than as a lifestyle, raising life-long learners, or faith, how does your group adapt?

Are you accommodating the parents who are just looking for a stop-gap solution?

Here is what some groups are trying:

  • Allowing more drop off students  and less parental involvement
  • Hiring more paid teachers
  • Offering more parent education on how to homeschool
  • Opening their formerly exclusive groups to allow public-school-at-home families to join

Share your ideas in the comments or join the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader group on Facebook and leave a comment.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

Helping Homeschool Leaders

Is our homeschool group required to have a president?

I recently purchased your ebook The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization. It is so helpful! I do have one question that I hope you can help me with. Are we required to have a president for our organization in Ohio? I see lots of websites saying that we do but not a word about it on any of the actual Ohio documents.

Thank you for your time.

Ashley

 

Dear Ashley,

You asked, “Are we required to have a president for our organization in Ohio. I see lots of websites saying that we do but not a word about it on any of the actual Ohio documents.”

Well, not everything that is a good idea is a codified into a law or specifically spelled out in a document! Like brushing your teeth  for example! 🙂

This document from the Ohio attorney general’s office is helpful.
Guide for Charity Board Members

It explains that there are duties and responsibilities for board members such as the duty of care, duty of management and duty of compliance with stated laws.

If you can execute those duties without a president, then you do not have to have a president. But it is nearly impossible to properly run a nonprofit without someone in the role of chair/president calling meetings, setting an agenda, running the meetings, providing oversight, etc.

So why not have a president (or chair)?

Of course, all the board members are expected to help run the organization. The president should not do it alone. The best board presidents I have served under were good at delegating, listening, and leading, but not doing everything themselves. The worst presidents or board chairs are those who decide everything themselves and try to control too much. They burn out and sometimes damage the group and its activities for a very long time.

There may be some back story and history (or even a dispute) to your question, so if you’d like I would be happy to arrange a phone consultation with you.

If your homeschool program would like to arrange a phone consultation with Carol Topp, CPA contact her here. She is happy to arrange a conference call and each persona can call in form heir own home or location. The conversation can be recorded for those unable to attend.

 

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Summer reading for homeschool leaders: Homeschool Co-ops

 

This summer, I’ll be featuring one of my books for homeschool leaders every few weeks.

This week it’s my first book for homeschool leaders,

 

I published this book in 2008 with a different cover. In 2013 I updated it and chose a new cover.

 

HomeschoolCo-opsCover

Original cover

HS Co-ops Cover_400

Updated cover

This book will help homeschool leaders start and run a homeschool co-op.

It has chapters on:

Part One: Starting a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter One: Benefits of Co-ops
Chapter Two: Disadvantages of Co-ops
Chapter Three: Different Types of Co-ops
Chapter Four: Your First Planning Meeting
Chapter Five: What’s in a Name? Names, Missions

Part Two: Running a Homeschool Co-op
Chapter Six: Leadership
Chapter Seven: Co-op Offerings
Chapter Eight: Money Management
Chapter Nine: Managing Volunteers and Conflict
Chapter Ten: Ready for the Next Step? 501c3 Tax Exempt Status

Part Three: Not Burning Out
Chapter Eleven: Avoiding Burn out

Read a sample chapter

Read more about Homeschool Co-ops the book

 

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Summer reading to be a better homeschool leader: The IRS and Your Homeschool organization

Summer is a great time for homeschool leaders to catch up on some reading. I’m highlighting a book each week of summer and this week I’m spotlighting,

 

I know it’s not a catchy title, but it explains what the book is about. I have no expectations of this book ever being a best seller (!), but I wrote it to be helpful to the hundreds of homeschool organizations that need to understand tax exempt status.
This book began in 2008 under the title of  Tax Exempt 501c3 Status for Homeschool Organizations with a cover as boring as the title. It was an ebook with only 51 pages.
TEx501c3Cover
In 2011, I expanded the book to 124 pages and changed the title to The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization with the subtitle Tax Exempt 501c3 Status for Homeschool Organizations. And I improved the cover.

IRS and Your Homeschool Org cover

After the IRS simplified the process to apply for 501(c)(3) status in 2014, I updated the book. The second edition includes a chapter on getting tax exempt status reinstated if it is revoked. I also added an index to make finding specific topics easier.

 

Who should read this book?
  • Anyone running a homeschool organization that’s been around a long time but has never filed anything with the IRS.
  • Anyone who mistakenly thinks they don’t have to do any annual reports to the IRS.
  • Anyone who fears their previous leaders did not do things properly.
  • Anyone starting a new homeschool organization and wants to be sure they are set up properly.
 Carol Topp, CPA

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Should my homeschool group tithe?

If we want to tithe on our income (from registration fees and donations) are there any restrictions, red tape, or regulations we should know about? Do you have advice or thoughts on tithing by a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization?

Homeschool leader in Idaho

 

The only restrictions is that the purpose of recipient of your tithe must be in line with your exempt purposes (charitable, educational and religious for this particular group).

So you shouldn’t give any part of your tithe to a for-profit business or to a nonprofit whose mission is outside of your purpose as you indicated to the IRS when you applied for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status (say an animal shelter).

Most 501(c)(3)s do not tithe because they consider themselves as recipients or stewards of donations for their specific mission. But some organizations do tithe. My church, for example, budgets 13% of our income to missions. We consider that part of a tithe.

From a Biblical perspective, it’s unclear if nonprofits should tithe.

Here’s a blog post from a pro-life group LifeMatters Worldwide with food for thought:

Should your ministry give a portion of your budget to the Lord’s work? That sounds good, but isn’t 100 percent of your budget already dedicated to advancing the Kingdom to your particular target audience? If you believe that a nonprofit organization should give because God will bless you in a special way, why stop at 10 percent?

Your board should discuss these questions:

  • If you choose to tithe, where would you direct the funds?
  • Would you give to a church? That could be problematic.
  • Would you only give to other similar agencies? Donors who give to your nonprofit expect that 100 percent of their gift will be used to support your mission.
  • What if you choose an organization that your donors don’t believe in?
  • Would they quit supporting you if they knew that a portion of their gift ultimately supported another organization that they don’t like? Their reason for not liking the other organization doesn’t have to be doctrinal or philosophical. Maybe they don’t like the director, or maybe they simply aren’t interested in that particular cause.

The blog post writer concludes with this:

When a nonprofit decides to give to other nonprofits, in a sense they become mutual fund managers. You are deciding for your donors how to spend a portion of their gift that is not directly connected to your ministry. As a donor, I’m writing a check because I want to support the impact your organization is making. If I wanted to support the organization that you choose for me, I would give to them directly.

The biblical instructions about tithing and giving primarily apply to individuals. Business owners may choose to tithe their income, but a nonprofit ministry should not view giving from the same perspective.

There is one critical difference — nonprofit organizations don’t earn income, you are merely stewards of the gifts someone has entrusted to your care to accomplish your mission. When you look at nonprofit tithing from a donor’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense to give something away that isn’t really yours.

I think that will give your board something to discuss!

Carol Topp, CPA

 

Carol’s book Money Management in a Homeschool Organization  will help your homeschool organization create a budget and live by it!

 

Starting Your Homeschool Co-op with a Mission

 

When starting a co-op, did you consider your mission?

Do you have a mission for your homeschool group?

You know that you cannot be all things to all people. Having a mission will help you focus and avoid burning out.

This podcast is an excerpt from a workshop titled Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

In this short podcast episode (10 minutes) Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will explain what a mission statement looks like.

 

Featured resource

Phone Consultation with Carol Topp, CPA

Phone Consultation: A pre-arranged phone call to discuss your questions. My most popular service for homeschool leaders. It’s like having your own homeschool expert CPA on the phone!

Cost: $75/hour to nonprofit organizations.  $100/hour to for-profit businesses. $60 minimum.

Q &A by Email:  I am willing to answer questions by email, but it is very time consuming to read and reply to emails. I charge a reduced rate of $50/hour to read and reply to emails. Minimum $25.

Contact HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, CPA, to arrange a telephone consultation.

Click Here to request more information!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Leading a Large Homeschool Co-op

 

Do you lead a large or growing homeschool co-op?

In this short podcast episode (20 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews Kendall Smith who leads a large homeschool co-op. She explains how they transitioned from an enrichment-only group to offering academic classes and getting volunteers and teachers. She offers sage advice on running a group successfully.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Protect the children in your homeschool group

Homeschool leaders,

Do you know how to keep the children in your homeschool group safe? What should you do if you suspect child abuse?

Here’s a helpful resource: Child Safety Guide, a 40 page ebook from GuideOne Insurance. It had a lot of safety checklists, a sample consent form, an incident report, and Child Protection Policy sample.

It also has information on background checks and what to do if you suspect child abuse.

Very helpful. It’s free. All it costs is your email address.

 

FREE E-BOOK | Protect the children in your ministry

 

I originally shared this information on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolCPA/

and in a Facebook group I co-lead: I Am a Homeschool Group Leader. It’s a group of almost 400 homeschool leaders from across the USA supporting each other by answering questions about running a Homeschool group. Come join us!

 

Download the Child Safety Guide today, read it, and discuss it with your board.

Let’s hope you never need the information shared there, but if you do you’ll be glad you had this resource.

Carol Topp, CPA

HomeschoolCPA.com

How long do I need to keep these homeschool group records?

From the I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook group (if you’re not a member yet request to join us. We’d love to have you!)

 

How does your group handle old financial records? What do you keep, what gets tossed and when?

When I began as treasurer, I received tons of files, receipts, bank statements, old insurance policies, order forms and the like. Our group is 30 years old. It’s a lot of stuff! Don’t want to toss anything that’s needed, but thinking that much of this is not necessary anymore.

Julie

 

I found some helpful lists of what to keep and for how long:

Document Retention for US Nonprofits: A Simple Guide

Document Retention Policies for Nonprofits

Both of these lists are for large nonprofits with employees, buildings, etc. so the lists are crazy long and overly detailed for most homeschool groups.

So I culled it down to this:

Keep these records permanently

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Determination Letter from the IRS
  • IRS Tax Exempt Application Form 1023/1023-EZ
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Information Returns, Form 990/990-EZ or 990-N
  • State Information returns or annual reports

Keep for 7 years

  • Financial statements (year-end)
  • Canceled checks
  • Bank Statements
  • Leases (5 years after lease ends)
  • Background checks
  • 1099-MISC  given to Independent Contractors
  • Employment Tax records (Form 941, W-2s etc)
  • Payroll records (although one list said to keep these permanently!)

Keep for 3-5 Years

  • Minutes of board meetings (although one list said to keep these permanently!)
  • Invoices
  • Reimbursements
  • Receipts of expenses
  • Insurance  policies

 

Where do you store these documents and papers? Most of the documents will probably be stored at the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s homes.

But the documents to be kept permanently should be stored in a board members’ binders and passed down to future board members. Each board member should have a copy of the important “Keep permanently” documents.

I have created a Homeschool Organization Board Manual. It is a template to create a board member binder. It has:

  • A list of important documents to keep in your binder
  • Section dividers so you can organize the important papers
  • Tools to help you run your meetings smoothly including
  • A sample agenda that you can use over and over again
  • A calendar of board meetings

Defining Your Homeschool Co-op’s Mission and Purpose

 

How id your homeschool co-op unique?

Each homeschool co-op is unique and should have a specific purpose. Without a focused mission the leaders can be trying to all things to all people and will quickly burnout. Listen as Carol Topp discusses creating a purpose and mission for your homeschool co-op.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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