In 2016, prior to Hurricane Harvey’s devastating direct hit to our community, the Rockport-Fulton Chamber Foundation, Inc. was formed. Before forming another entity, my board of directors wanted to establish a clear purpose. It started with $2,000 in the bank and is a completely separate entity. The plan was to offer high school scholarships, and not much more.
The Foundation’s board is made up of past chairmen of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce (RFCC).
After Hurricane Harvey, the Foundation took on the role of being the repository for humanitarian, business, and community betterment contributions. In 60 days Foundation deposits grew to $1.4 million, and became an entity, larger in size, financially, than our Chamber of Commerce. I always knew people would want to contribute and help if a disaster struck our community … and they did. Our donors came from all over the world.
Why form one?
Creating a charitable nonprofit organization completes your organization, paving the way for tax-deductible contributions from individuals, nonprofits, and grants.
The Foundation served an additional need for the RFCC. As Chamber Board Chairmen finished their term, they would talk about feeling left out. They said it was such a let down after being so involved and needed. By creating the option to cycle onto the Chamber Foundation Board, it provided an avenue for continued service through the RFCC, and gave them a good feeling.
Today the Foundation has a full team of board members made up of past chairs, an accountant, and an attorney. Feel free to review our organization here.
How do you form one?
To start a Foundation, follow these steps:
- Define your purpose. Your purpose statement tells why your nonprofit is necessary.
- Apply for an employer identification number (EIN)
- File for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.
- File for nonprofit tax-exempt status with your state.
- Review regulations and penalties.
- Identify Expenses.
What are the benefits?
501(c)(3) organizations are the most common. Private foundations are also 501(c)(3) organizations. Instead of running charitable programs, these foundations fund other 501(c)(3) organizations through grants. 501(c)(3)s have some restrictions surrounding the types of public services in which they can be involved. Namely, they cannot participate in political or lobbying activities. They can participate in some lobbying activities but they must limit the funding of such activities to 10% of their operational budget.
For our Foundation, donors wanted to contribute to those in need after Hurricane Harvey. We formed a GoFundMe account the day after Harvey hit because so many people requesting to donate. That later became a PayPal Giving Fund.
Unsolicited donations present major issues after a natural disaster, and the Foundation was used to funnel these funds to an organization better suited for identifying those with the most pressing needs.
Through the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG), that fund, all initially funneled through the Foundation, grew from $1.4 million to $8.5 million (joining with other assets managed by the CBDRG). To date those funds have helped 1,282 clients, including 81 new homes, 79 manufactured homes, and 181 complete repairs, as well as assistance for 6,450 FEMA applicants.
We were also able to receive grants from other Foundations, as well. For example, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation paved the way for the Rebuild Texas Fund, which provided $250,000 towards an advertising campaign to bring back tourism and rebuild our economy.
We formed our Foundation for a completely different reason, but knew it would be there when we needed it most.