We’ve haven’t had a good solution for managing money for SQLSaturday and our groups here in Orlando. In the early days I’d put the money in my business account, keep the receipts, figure out what was left to accrue for the next year, and let the accountant do the rest. It worked, but it was ugly. Mixing funds, less than perfect transparency, and mixing risk – something going wrong would have put my business at risk. When I gave up the reins here it fell to the next leaders to figure out a money solution. That solution has been ad-hoc, mostly one of putting the money in PayPal and keeping receipts and figuring out how much event money was left, and hopefully handling it on their personal tax return. No better than my original solution, yet both worked well enough.
So, what would be better? A corporation. Something with legal standing. Better yet, a non profit corp. We never tried this because it looked hard. But is it? I decided to find out.
After some reading, I created SQLOrlando as a Florida non profit corp. $70, fifteen minutes. I filed for a employee identification number (EIN) with the IRS, few minutes, free. Then I filed for 501c(3) status with the IRS. That took a little longer to make sure I checked the right boxes, and another $285 to file it. Three weeks later it was approved. Then I filed to be tax exempt in Florida. No fee, fill out the form, and about 30 days later that was approved. In between I purchased a domain, grabbed the Twitter handle, opened a bank account (free, $60 deposit), and set up a business PayPal account.
The hardest part was writing the by-laws. From my long ago days on the PASS Board I appreciate the challenges of good by-laws, and I took some time to read about 20 different bylaws from Florida corporations. Most are similar, and I think there is a lot of latitude. I went for simple and clear, we can always change later. Maybe the most interesting part was deciding on membership. For this effort, right now, I set up the Board of Directors as the only members. That means the Board elects the Board. That’s different from PASS, but I think appropriate here while we’re starting this, and then we can always change later. We picked a Board, held a meeting, and the by-laws were approved.T hat means, for about $400 and sixteen hours (of which the bylaws were a huge part) we’re a real 501c(3). I’m hoping that opens up all kinds of interesting opportunities.
Oh, and the tax filing you might dread? Its a postcard if you’re under $50k in annual revenue. You still need receipts and to follow the rules, but the filing is easy.
If all this does is hold the money for SQLSaturday Orlando, that’s a win. But, what if I could get some local businesses to sponsor us now that we’re a non profit. What kind of good could we do for the SQL community and the business community if we had a small stake – say $5-10k? What if keep the chapters, but expand beyond that. Meetups, half and full days events free and paid, networking events, a speaker workshop? Possible? Worth thinking about.