Colorful clay figures of a police man and business man with a bag of money

Cooperative fundraising / IFAs

"Cooperative fundraising" is when a group's members join together (cooperatively) to raise money and then credit the funds raised (or the time spent volunteering) to the individuals who participated in raising the money (the accounts credited are known as "Individual fundraising accounts"). These types of activities, while common among booster clubs, are not considered a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt activity.

Tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations must be operated for a "public" purpose. Booster clubs, for example, often operate for public purposes such as supporting amateur athletics, supporting arts in the schools, community support for public education and the like. The IRS and tax court have both found that cooperative fundraising activities are operated for the private benefit of the individual members of the group involved in the fundraising. This type of cooperative fundraising may be engaged in by a for-profit, tax-paying organization, but not by a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) group. If cooperative fundraising comprises any significant part of your group's total activities (think more than 5% of total funds raised are credited to the individual accounts of parents/students participating in the fundraising although the IRS does not have a specific percentage test), then your group likely would not be considered to qualify for 501(c)(3) status by the IRS.

PBUSA highly recommends avoiding the use of Cooperative Fundraising or Individual Fundraising Accounts entirely. See the PBUSA IFA Policy. Other fundraising options include:

  • Fair share donation plans -- in which your organization advises parents/students of the cost of participating and encourages, but does not require, that contributions of a set amount be paid
  • Seeking out corporate, foundation and other donations, letting the donors know that contributions are tax-deductible provided nothing of significant value is received for the donation
  • Using all funds raised to support the entire group, regardless of volunteer or fundraising participation

Related articles

IRS Article - Athletic Booster Clubs: Are They Exempt?

Tax Court Ruling - Capital Gymnastics: August 2013

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Three Questions before any ASK©

Laura Fredricks

Dec 06, 2019

Before you make your best ASK there are three very important questions you need ASK yourself. Think of this exercise as goal setting which many of us do at work and at home. If you never set a goal you never achieve that goal. If you never ASK you never get what you want. 

Setting goals is a must when you need to ASK. Once you set your goals you can filter out all of the unnecessary things that might prevent you from ever making your ASK. For instance, if you keep second guessing why you are asking, instead of what YOU are going to ASK, you never get to the ASK. Setting these goals will keep you focused on what you should be focused on, your ASK. It also makes you more prepared. When you are more prepared you are more confident. When you are more confident your ASK becomes more attractive to the person you want to ASK 

Setting your goals also allows you to set the playing field. In the process of making your ASK, knowing what you need, when you need it, and who you can give it to you prepares you for whatever response you may receive. Setting your goals makes it harder for the person you are ASKing to catch you off guard, change the conversation, or give you a surprise answer. If you go in knowing how to articulate your own needs, you’ll always be in control of exactly what you will say. 

Knowing EXACTLY what you want to say and practicing your ASK words will ease your tension and anxiety that can come up when you ASK. It will help you feel more confident about how the conversation will go because you have prepared the conversation. Anxiety is known as the “fear of the unknown,” and if you’re ever anxious before making a huge pitch, it’s because you’re afraid of how it might go. We can easily do away with those fears if you just take a few minutes to ask yourself and answer the following questions. 

Ask yourself these questions before making any ASK to ensure your success: 

1) What do you want? 

Be specific, and keep it brief. If you are ASKing for money, then you need a specific amount. There is a world of difference between ASKing for “an increase” and ASKing for “$10,000.” When you make any ASK you need to have a crystal clear idea of exactly what you want. This is your first simple goal. Don’t over complicate it. Don’t over explain it to yourself in your head. If you are ASKing someone to do something for you, such as pick you daughter up after school then just ASK “Can you pick up Chrissy today after school at 3:00 pm this would be so helpful to me?”  Most of us overcomplicate the ASK by going into extraneous details about why you can’t do it, how you are overworked, overburdened, and how your schedule is overwhelming. Finding the right balance between specificity and brevity is important. You want to be specific enough that it is a concrete goal, but keep it simple enough so it is attainable and you do not get lost in extra details. 

2) When do you want it? 

Know the specific time or date of your ASK. There is a HUGE difference between “I’d love you to consider this by next week” and “Can I call you next Tuesday at 10 am so that we can go over the details and sign the agreement?”  This is your second simple goal. You should have absolute certainty that your ASK contains the exact time frame that you want your ASK to come to a conclusion. If you don’t I assure you that a week will turn into a month. A month will turn into two or three months and now your ASK is so old the person has forgotten what you ASKed. You might get what you ASKed for, but you might not get it at the time you wanted it. By laying out the specific time frame of when you want it you make time WORK for you not against you. 

3) Who can give it to you? 

This third simple goal is so important and is over looked so many times. This goal requires you to write down in priority order who you have the best chance with ASKing and getting exactly what you want. Sure, many of us make a list or have it in or heads of who we would like to ASK, who we should Ask but are those people the right people to ASK? By right I mean are they the ones who know and trust you the best and have the means and inclination to say yes? So many times we go to the people who we assume are the easy ones such as the ones who won’t be confrontational or the ones who have said yes before. They may be on your list but when you ASK the order in which you ASK is VERY important. If you need money for a start-up project you should go to the person who could give you the largest amount first, who knows and trust you, and has the means to do so. If you ASK this person half-way through your fundraising I guarantee they will give you a lesser amount because they were not ASKed first. You actually do this every day without recognizing that you do. When you are unhappy with a purchase or frustrated with a service what do you do? You ASK to speak to the manager. You don’t waste time speaking to people who work for the manager because they do not have the power to fix it. The manager does. So when you ASK for what appears to be “larger” things, and often they involve money, remember your third goal – ASK people in priority order who can give you exactly what you want.

The easiest way to get and keep tax-exempt status

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