PRESIDENT'S COLUMN: A little question leads to a big change for the Big Park Council

John Wichert

John Wichert

Never believe that one person cannot make a difference in the world, even if it arises by just asking a question.

A week or two before we took office, our vice president-elect, Colleen Hinds, and I met for coffee to get to know one another and marvel at how we two outsiders, total novices to the Big Park Council (BPC), could now possibly lead this clearly accomplished organization. More importantly, we shared our assessment of the current state of the organization and how to make it sustainable.

One of Colleen’s first questions to me was, “Is Big Park Council a 501(c)3?” “Uh, tell me more about that,” I replied, to camouflage my ignorance.

We soon learned that BPC was a 501(c)6, When Colleen, who had previously acquired 501(c)3 status for other organizations, explained in detail the advantages of making this change to our Executive Board and myself, and then to the BPC at our Feb. 9 meeting, the Council learned that this change would allow BPC to:

Accept tax deductible grants and donations

Conduct fundraisers and provide eligibility for certain discounts

The possible additional revenue from this status change could be used for such purposes as:

Website Design and Maintenance

To better educate the citizens of Big Park/VOC about current issues in our community

Social Media 

Special Projects

Educational handouts

Meeting Space/Events

Stipends (if necessary)

Cover existing costs (email, Mailchimp, etc)

Increase awareness of the Council and its activities

Membership enhancement

To reduce the likelihood of additional increases in member organization dues.

All of these are items that can work to strengthen the ability of BPC to represent you.

At our March 9 meeting the BPC voted to apply to change our IRS status to 501(c)3.

BPC Treasurer Patty Reski, assisted by Secretary, Mary Pope promptly went to work sorting through the voluminous paperwork of the application as well as the BPC Bylaws, Policies and Procedures, and consulting Colleen or a CPA when necessary. Then came the wait. Six month’s worth…and a $600 application fee.

Then on Sept. 5 BPC received a letter from the IRS stating that we will “have to amend the Articles of Incorporation to make the purpose [of the organization] crystal clear” and BPC was given around six weeks to get that done or a new application and another $600 would be required. Notice to the BPC Representatives of the proposed amendment was needed with a vote 30 days later and would require a 2/3 approval vote of the entire Council. The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACA) would then have to approve the amendment to the bylaws and rush their approval back to us before BPC could resubmit the revision back to the IRS.

The language that the IRS said to add seemed anything but “crystal clear.” Abundant consultation was obtained and the unanimous message was “just do it."

Mary and Patty again worked their magic, utilizing an online vote, and the Article change was unanimously approved with two abstentions on September 25. Patty batted it to the ACA, they stamped their approval, and off it went (again) to the IRS.

On Oct. 11 we received our 501(c)3 approval from the IRS! Now, in addition to all of the advantages listed above, the donors to our recent fundraising campaign will find that their donations may be tax deductible. We will soon be searching for grants that may assist our activities…and we even have a volunteer to write grant applications.

And that’s how one person’s question can lead to a cascade of good.

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