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Starting a permaculture nonprofit  RSS feed

 
Christopher Knight
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I was thinking that when I start my homestead I should register it as a 501c3. The mission would be to conduct research and provide education on permaculture, natural building, and sustainability. The benefit would be that everything I spend on it would be tax deductible. What do you think?
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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You can, but there are downsides. There is a lot of overhead to 501c3 record keeping and oversight. It also can make your buildings have to meet commercial code in some areas.
 
Andrew Scott
Posts: 113
Location: Boreal Alaska
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If you find the cost and legal nonsense is prohibitive, you might try looking into what's referred to as a "fiscal agent". Basically, they're like pooled non-profits that do all the legal junk for everyone under their umbrella for a percentage (8-15?) of the incoming donations. They come in different flavors aligned around various causes. I haven't looked for one for permaculture specifically, but there are probably quite a few under the sustainable living/development banner.
 
Meghann Badgero
Posts: 21
Location: Detroit, MI
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Chris -
I am interested in starting a non profit myself. I hae decided that would be the focus of my study this semester for college and I intended on having a heavy focus of " sowing the seeds of sustainable communities" - and many permaculture projects for my nonprofit. Did you ever fire one up? how has it been working out for you if you did, and or why did you decide against it if you did not.

 
Christopher Knight
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I'm not to the point where that is an option for me yet, I'm just considering the possibilities in order to develop a plan. Having not had a plan for the first 25 years of my life and spending the following 5 years catching up I now understand the importance of planning.
 
Johnny Niamert
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
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"Failing to plan, is planning to fail"
 
Meghann Badgero
Posts: 21
Location: Detroit, MI
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Chris -
I hear you! Well wish you well in all of your....planning! I am studying "How to start a nonprofit" for school this semester and will be firing up one of my own so.....I thought I would ask. Would be great to keep in touch in case your plans do involve further action with your starting projects for or involving a nonprofit : )
 
Karen Crane
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I have started and ran a non-profit for many years in the past.
Here is my view:
1) Not so easy to get the 501(c)3 approved. they are getting stricter now.
2) Yes, lots of crazy paperwork, time consuming Must keep good records especially about money and fundraising.
They will want to know HOW the place is funded and by who. What do you do to create working capital and who gets paid ( or not)
3) If you are not doing anything to create funding or collecting monies from the public they will take away your status
4) If you have buildings and land they are part of your non-profit and if you ever want to sell, you can ONLY sell to anopther non-profit or someone who willmaintain YOUR
non-profit. All funding would remain in the non-profits name.
So think long and hard about this before you do it!
 
Meghann Badgero
Posts: 21
Location: Detroit, MI
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Karen!
Thank you SO much for your advice! Would you be interested in being someone I could possibly contact via e-mail at least if I have further questions in my up and coming project? I will understand if you are not interested in that. I am still thinking it is something I want to do, but really appreciate your honest and experienced considerations. I will inevitably be studying this for my semester that begins in Jan. even if I do not start one at my own during that time.
Thank you again for reaching out!
 
Tara Jupp
Posts: 12
Location: Seattle, Wa
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Hi,
Another non-profit start up wannabe here
I have a series of goals, income plans, research questions, and many ideas and lists on *most* aspects of the endeavor. I'm in the Seattle area and am looking to develop contacts and share ideas and information
I would also be interested in an "unofficial" non profit- private ownership with a community focus without some of the sticky regs
So I guess feel free to contact me to either share ideas or talk about starting a project
 
Danny Smithers
Posts: 43
Location: Florissant, CO
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I have gone through this non-profit/pseudo non-profit debate in my mind as I work toward a project of my own that involves permaculture and community building. Many of the details are still unsettled surrounding the on-the-ground aspects of the project--it is mostly in the hypothetical realm currently--but perhaps my direction might help you work through your ideas. I have decided to try and partner with several local non-profits, but create a separate entity that is not technically a non-profit. I am working toward this route mostly because I like the agility of less regulation and partnering with other local non-profits will help with community buy-in (in theory). And when it comes to the tax-savings, I think your 2 big questions really become:

Will the amount of money you save in taxes make up for the time you spend in meeting the regulations?
Will you be seeking donated funding for this project?--Potential donors can't write off their gift to your organization unless it is a non-profit.

Whatever you decide, I hope for its success!
 
Meghann Badgero
Posts: 21
Location: Detroit, MI
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Danny,
I REALLY appreciate your thoughts with this and also hope for the best with you and your route to community building! I am still choosing to study "how to start a non-profit" for my semester.....that begins in just three short days ; ) and knowing me, I will end up firing one up for myself.....to better serve the greater needs of communities. I may not fully understand the pressures and potential stresses of the legalities of a non-profit until I have one going, or am at least in the process of it, but I do believe it is what I should devote my time and energy to. I see SO many more options in terms of getting the funding and material needs met for projects by having a non-profit and though I am not claiming to be a tax or law wizard, I am not a stranger to the great depths of time and energy they can consume to do things "legally". I would really enjoy to keep in touch with you here and there to see where you are in your progress of spreading the seeds of community building and also to network with you and the non-profits you may be working with.
I think it is so important to remain open to learning from those who have taken similar routes and I am working right now to build a large network of people to either work with or have as guides should I have questions or concerns. I also am open to being a contact for anyone who may have questions for me about the route I will take and the lessons I will learn along the way.
Good day to you and again - I really appreciate your reaching out!
Should you want to keep in touch - it is easier for me, or at least I better remember to check and respond to personal e-mails more. should you be interested in keeping in touch, please contact me at
meghannhoneymoonfarms@gmail.com
THANK YOU! and have a blessed day!
 
Danny Smithers
Posts: 43
Location: Florissant, CO
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Sounds good, keep me in the loop on your progress and I will do the same. I do want to reiterate that I haven't really launched anything yet and I am at a similar stage that you are at. I am spending a lot of time trying to get to know the community I am living in because I am somewhat new to it--Cripple Creek, CO. I am in the process of designing a food-forest/permaculture-based garden area at the school that I work at to utilize as an illustration of what can be done in our region. One of my biggest challenges will be designing at our elevation of 9600 feet... but one step at a time. I know the Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute has a food forest at 7,200 feet, but as far as I know, this will be the highest elevation food forest in the country (maybe world?) if I can get it in place. When I am closer to a design completion, I will post it here for feedback. I'll also shoot you an email so you have mine as well. And I have some decent experience building WordPress websites, so if you are looking for any help in that realm (I see your website is WordPress), let me know.
You have good day too!
 
Danny Smithers
Posts: 43
Location: Florissant, CO
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Okay it looks like the website I went to is not yours, so you can disregard that portion of my message. After looking through I didn't see your name anywhere, do you have a website for your project?
 
Thomas Pate
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I just took geoff lawton's online permaculture course. He said that there is information in the designers manual on different non-profits and I think he said on how to start them up. He did not go into much detail in the course, it was more just for inspirational purposes. I did not want to put out the money for the manual without knowing if it would be information that would even apply to me in the united states.
If I decide to pursue starting up a non-profit I will talk with an accountant and a lawyer for advice. I would think between the two I should be able to figure it out.
 
Anthony DeGraw
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This is quite interesting. I asked my wife, family and friends that if something were to happen to me so that I could no longer be able to move forward with my plans for the property, would anyone step in and take over. the answer in a nut shell was no. All of these people find it very interesting but no one was able to say, yes! It floored me. I feel like a lot of people may be in this boat and a nonprofit would maybe be some security that the system would have time to truly mature. I mean I'm 40 with seven acres. I will never see the true potetial of the system at full capacity. I would hate for it to turn into a bunch of cookie cutter homes after I'm gone. So today I was thinking a club or nonprofit would be better then any will. That would be the only way that I could truly be sure that my kids and or grandkids wouldnt just sell it and blow the money.
 
Meghann Badgero
Posts: 21
Location: Detroit, MI
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A great thread of conversation we have going here! I love that so many of you are interested in the benefits of nonprofits! I'm really of the belief that it is A way of the future. We have this system in place with governmental regulations and agencies that so easily restrict us from living as freely as we would like to, but in many ways nonprofits allow us to network with more credibility and focus, as well as attaining the community support and material needs we have for various projects - if we are inclined to to the foot work and sustain the goals the non profit hopes to manifest.

Tara - I would love to talk with you more about your ideas to fire up or become involved with a nonprofit, as I am closest to you and we may find that we could work together! I have been reading loads of books from the library and talking with many people here in Portland that have recently started their own nonprofits - which has offered a wealth of information and resources! Please contact me via personal email if you would like to discuss/brainstorm further! lelahb39@yahoo.ca

Christopher - I never really considered the benefits of a nonprofit protecting a property to ensure that the "dream lived on" but what a wonderful idea! I would also be happy to share with you some cookie cutter bylaws and articles of incorporation if you are interested in those files for starting your nonprofit. I do know that the regulations can vary from state to state, well.....they often do, but not too much. Let me know if you are interested in the information I have and I can send you some files! They were shared with me by a friend who has recently developed his own nonprofit and he attained the information from a nonprofit class at PSU here in Portland.

Best wishes to you all with your nonprofit adventures! Lets keep this conversation rollin!
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