Audubon Chapter management tools, tips and requirements are detailed in the sections that follow.
In recognition of the importance of Chapter work in achieving National Audubon Society goals and carrying out programs at the local, state and national levels, national staff and programs seek to provide resources and services to Chapters including the following:
National Board-approved policies defining the relationship and role of Chapters and National Audubon Society
Chapters' service to National Audubon Society
These benchmarks provide a general outline for Chapter best practices.
Relationship with National and State offices
Outreach and Communications
Membership and Fundraising
Organizational Structure (Marc Smiley)
ZIP Code Assignments and Change Requests
A Chapter territory consists of postal zip codes that are assigned by National in consultation with the Chapter and its State Office or the Chapter Services Office if there is no State Office. Territories may vary in size, but the designated territory should be of a size that members find comfortable to travel to meetings and events, a distance usually from 15 to 30 miles (or 45 minutes maximum driving time). Actual size will depend upon the area requested by those forming the Chapter and is finalized at the discretion of the State Director or Chapter Services Office responsible for helping to create the Chapter. If you would like to review your Chapter’s list of ZIP codes and/or a map of your territory, please contact Chapter Services (please keep in mind that PO Box ZIP codes will not show up on the map, so you'll need to get a list of those from your post office to make sure you aren't missing any ZIPs within the geographic boundaries of your territory). Chapters are encouraged to review this list at least once after every US Census, because the Postal Service sometimes adds ZIP codes, and to contact Chapter Services if changes are needed.
Membership and Recruitment Outside of a Chapter's Territory
Member recruits that do not live within your Chapter's territory--either in another Chapter's territory or in an unclaimed territory that is not feasible to add to your Chapter's territory--may be added to the Chapter's roster as long as the proper coding is used on the membership form. Likewise, current Audubon members who live outside the Chapter's territory but would like to be part of the Chapter can contact Member Services and request to be "hard-coded" to the Chapter of their choice (must provide the 3-digit Chapter code).
As part of the process of forming a new Chapter (which is fully described in the “Guide to Starting a Chapter in Your Community,” those proposing to start the Chapter need to define their new Chapter’s territory. A Chapter’s territory is defined by a specific list of postal ZIP codes.
In order to create a Chapter territory, a newly-forming Chapter is asked to propose in writing a list of all ZIP codes that they would like to include along with the cities’ names associated with the ZIP codes, using the Notice of Intent to Form a Chapter (document linked on this page). A map of the cities and towns in the proposed territory must also be included (baseline for such maps are available from the U.S. Postal Service).
Territories may vary in size, but the designated territory should be of a size that members find comfortable to travel to meetings and events, a distance usually from 15 to 30 miles (or 45 minutes maximum driving time). Actual size will depend upon the area requested by those forming the Chapter and is finalized at the discretion of the State Director or Chapter Services Office responsible for helping to create the Chapter.
In consultation with the Membership Department, the State Director/Chapter Services Office will verify the ZIP codes in the proposed territory and assure that territory size is appropriate. When a Chapter territory is approved, no other Chapter will be given the same ZIP codes. However, in the “Notice of Intent to Form a Chapter,” each newly forming Chapter leaders also acknowledges that in the event it becomes feasible to establish another Chapter or Chapters within that Chapter’s existing territory, the Chapter may be called upon to readjust the Chapter territory and relinquish communities and ZIP codes to accommodate the new Chapter(s).
A completed and verified application for forming a new Chapter is then sent with a recommendation for action from the State Office to the Chapter Services Office for approval. Once approved, the Membership Department is notified, the new Chapter is added to the list of Pending Chapters, and the ZIP codes are officially assigned to the new Chapter.
Creating a New Chapter in an Existing Chapter’s Territory
As communities grow and change, Audubon members may decide that an existing Chapter is no longer able to provide them with needed services. They may choose to create a new Chapter in an adjacent area, or propose one that includes part of the territory of an existing Chapter.
The procedures noted above for creating a new Chapter and for changes in Chapter territory will also be followed when forming a new Chapter that requests to include an area currently held by another Chapter.
In the creation of a new Chapter out of an existing Chapter’s territory, special additional consideration will be taken if the existing Chapter has concerns or refuses the request to relinquish selected ZIP codes. Generally, additional opportunity and encouragement will be given to both groups to work out a compromise. Specifically, reasons for and against
Chapter formation in an existing Chapter territory will be provided to each Chapter, and their additional reaction to that reasoning requested. Those responses will be shared by the State Director or Chapter Services Office with the VP for Field Operations, and every effort will be made to find a solution that results in mutually agreed-upon Chapter boundaries. The overall goal will be to find an end result that provides the best service and opportunities to members in that area.
From time to time, the Post Office may add new ZIP codes or split an existing ZIP code into two codes. It is the responsibility of the Chapter to check with its Post Office and notify Audubon of any changes as quickly as possible. Members that become part of a new ZIP code may be transferred out of your Chapter if you have not added the new ZIP code to your Chapter territory.
If the second Chapter agrees to relinquish their Zip codes, and all other aspects of the Chapter territory change are recommended, then the request for a change in territory along with a recommendation for approval of that change will be forwarded to the Chapter Services Office for final approval and notification of the Membership Department.
If the second Chapter contests the Zip code transfer, then the State Director/Chapter Services Office will make every effort to work out a compromise. If no compromise can be created, all correspondence and a recommendation for action by the Chapter Services Office or State Director will be forwarded to the VP for State Programs and Chapter Services for a final decision.
Any appeal to that decision by the Chapters involved may be made to the VP for National Conservation Programs.
External resources from Marc Smiley Organizational Development:
Bylaws are developed during the pending/incorporation phase of a Chapter. They are the rules that govern internal Chapter management and are written by the organization's founding directors. Because bylaws are legal documents, and because the inclusion requirements for them vary from state to state, you should consult a lawyer or other professional before adopting any bylaws. Bylaws cover topics such as how directors are elected, how meetings of directors are conducted, and what officers the organization will have and their duties. As the organization grows and changes, it may be necessary to convene the directors for an update of the bylaws in order to be certain that they continue to reflect the needs of the Chapter.
Please be sure to send a copy of your Chapter's bylaws to Chapter Services and keep that office apprised of any updates that are made to the document.
ARTICLES REQUIRED IN BYLAWS
One of the following two options must be included in your bylaws in order for your Chapter to remain a chartered Chapter of National Audubon Society. Please refer to Sections V. C., I.D. and V.D. relating to Chapter bylaws in the Audubon Chapter Policy.
EITHER Option One (two provisions)
This SOCIETY shall not enter into any commitments binding upon the NATIONAL SOCIETY without written authorization by the NATIONAL SOCIETY, nor shall the NATIONAL SOCIETY, without written authorization by this SOCIETY, enter into any commitments binding upon this SOCIETY.
This SOCIETY may terminate its status as a Chapter of the NATIONAL SOCIETY, and the NATIONAL SOCIETY may terminate the status of this SOCIETY as a Chapter of the NATIONAL SOCIETY, pursuant to procedures set forth in the 2001 Audubon Chapter Policy adopted by the NATIONAL SOCIETY’S Board of Directors on December 8, 2001.
OR Option Two (one provision)
The relationship between this SOCIETY and the NATIONAL SOCIETY shall be governed by the Chapter Policy.
ARTICLES PREVIOUSLY REQUIRED AND NOW OPTIONAL
Section 1. Any person interested in the purposes and objectives of this SOCIETY is eligible to apply for membership.
Section 2. The classes of membership of this SOCIETY shall be the same as the classes of Membership maintained by the NATIONAL SOCIETY. All members of this SOCIETY must be members of the NATIONAL SOCIETY.
Section 3. The minimum membership dues shall be as established by the NATIONAL SOCIETY.
Section 4. All members of this SOCIETY shall enjoy at a minimum all the rights and privileges accorded to the members of the NATIONAL SOCIETY.
Regular meetings of members shall be held on the _________ (1st Monday, 2nd Tuesday, etc.) of ______ (each month Sept. through May, June, August or whenever), but such regular meetings shall be held not fewer than five times in any calendar year.
Board of Directors
There shall be at least five regular meetings of the Board of Directors in any one calendar year. The dates for the regular meeting shall be determined by the Board at its first regular meeting following the annual meeting of members.
This SOCIETY shall follow the National Audubon Society’s Chapter Policy and fulfill the Required and Recommended Activities included in that Policy.
This SOCIETY shall have the following standing committees and such other standing and special committees as shall be determined by the Board of Directors:
The Conservation Committee shall work on at least one major conservation or environmental project. The Committee may also lead or actively participate in a local conservation campaign and take an active role in supporting a major National Audubon Society campaign or other projects of the SOCIETY’S choice.
At a minimum, the Education Committee shall work to further the National Audubon Society’s education goals locally while informing and educating the public about the natural environment.
The Membership Committee is responsible for keeping the SOCIETY’S membership records (under the direction of the Membership Chair) and for promoting membership in the National Audubon Society through a local campaign to enroll new members and renew current members (under the direction of the Membership Promotion Chair).
The Program Committee shall coordinate a minimum of six open membership meetings each year.
Field Trip Committee
The Field Trip Committee shall offer at least four field trips each year.
The Publicity Committee shall use newspapers, radio, TV and other publicity media, to publicize the purposes, aims and programs of the SOCIETY.
The Newsletter Committee shall publish and mail a newsletter to every chapter member at least six times a year.
Strategic Planning should be invigorating, exciting, eye-opening, and motivating. Planning is not just about deciding on what programs and field trips the Chapter will run next year; it clarifies who you are, why you're here, and how you can achieve your conservation vision.
In planning for your Chapter, be sure to review the list of ideal Chapter Benchmarks, the Essential Elements of a Chapter (Section II of the Chapter Policy) and the Planning Guide (document references on this page). In addition, Joyce King, President of Santa Fe Audubon Society (FL) and Audubon's Southeast Regional Director, has created guidelines for an Extreme Makeover for Chapters. Get out the whiteboard, coffee and doughnuts and convene your board for a thrilling series of planning!
Strategic Planning (Marc Smiley)
This "Extreme Makeover for Chapters" outline has been generously provided by Joyce King, President of Santa Fe Audubon Society (FL) and Audubon's Southeast Regional Director.
As you use this outline, have a facilitator stand at the front of the room next to a large pad of paper on an easel. As you work through the different elements, encourage spontaneous and creative brainstorming from your assembled members. Give each section a minute or two at most. Once you have completed a section, tear off that piece of paper and tape it up on the wall where everyone can refer to it.
[Your Chapter] AUDUBON SOCIETY'S VISION:
This is a sentence depicting a long-term view that may describe the ideal world in which your Chapter operates, e.g, "We envision a community where birds, wildlife and their habitat are valued and protected".
[Your Chapter] AUDUBON SOCIETY'S MISSION:
The Mission Statement tells you the fundamental purpose of the Chapter. It defines who/what you serve and and the critical processes for doing so. Should be written in SMART--Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound--terms.
These are general statements that broadly define what your Chapter would like to accomplish through its mission. Ideally these will be delegated to committees who can further research the goal and create tangible, measurable objectives and then create tasks, activities, and programs to accomplish them.
E.g., "increase membership, make recordkeeping more efficient".
E.g., "expand adult education programs, establish partnerships with businesses and organizations".
RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO CARRY OUT MISSION
PRIORITY SELECTION OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE COMING YEAR
What is feasible, achieves the mission, most impactful, etc.
Delegate tasks, have committees come up with feasible objectives for the proposed goals that fall within the priorities for the coming year. Each goal/activity should have a go-to person (chair) that takes the lead and makes regular reports to the board on committee progress.
You've completed an invigorating series of planning sessions; now, how do you maintain that momentum and ensure completion of your Chapter's established goals and priorities?
At your last planning session, you should have ended by assigning goals to each committee. Then look at the calendar for the coming year and set dates for your Board meetings during which each committee chair will report back on the committees' progress. Committees can meet separately to brainstorm ideas for achieving the results called for by one or more objectives.
The product of committee planning will be an ACTION PLAN, which involves:
The Annual Report is the primary vehicle for sharing your accomplishments with National Audubon. The information you provide about your Chapter’s activities and achievements is greatly valued. Increasingly, all levels of the organization look to the Chapters as partners, as sources for innovative programs and groundbreaking new approaches to shared conservation concerns, and as examples of conservation successes to share with other Chapters, Audubon’s Board of Directors, staff and members, and the public. The details you provide will help us direct resources to you including new funding opportunities, and will help connect Chapters working on similar projects with each other. The report also allows Audubon to demonstrate that funds spent by Chapters are used in accordance with guidelines for non-profits set by the IRS. Finally, completion of the Annual Report form is a requirement for annual re-certification as an Audubon Chapter as described in the Audubon Chapter Policy.
Provision of annual Baseline funding is also tied to the annual reporting process. Baseline payments are generally made in the month following receipt of all completed report components. The complete report must be received by November 30th for the Chapter to be eligible for payment. Please let the Chapter Services Office or your State Office know if an extension is needed.
The period on which you are asked to report is your most recently completed fiscal year as of July 1st. We do not require Chapters to have the same fiscal year as National Audubon (July 1 - June 30), so if you operate on a different fiscal year (e.g., Jan 1 - Dec 30), please report on that period.
There are typically three parts to the Chapter Annual Report:
Chapter Annual Report Forms
Chapter Leader Report
The Chapter Leader Report (CLR) is a current listing of all Chapter staff, officers, board members and committee chairs. The CLR used to be a required component of the Chapter Annual Report; however, we are now requesting the CLR as soon as Chapter elections have been held and committee chairs have been selected. Any time a change occurs in a leader’s position or contact information throughout the following year, please update the Chapter Services Office in a timely manner. It isn't necessary to fill out a new form for just a few updates--simply email or call them in to Chapter Services.
Audubon’s logo began with a sketch of the Great Egret from renowned bird artist David Sibley. The sketch was digitally adapted and combined the streamlined Great Egret with the word Audubon in teal green. We chose green for the word Audubon because of its strong associations with nature and the environment, and gray for the Great Egret’s outline because this color is also natural and warm.
If Chapters wish to use the national logo, or any of its Program variations, please follow guidelines below for various publications and other materials to ensure that any usage is fully consistent with Audubon’s branding protocol. Please note that prior permission must be granted for logo use on signage, interpretive displays, posters, invitations, and brochures. Audubon reserves the right to exercise quality control over all uses of the Audubon logo.
The Audubon logo must be a separate, stand-alone logo, and cannot be merged with any other logos, including Chapter logos. Please contact Audubon’s Chapter Services Office to obtain an electronic or print copy of the logo. The logo files will be accompanied bygraphic specifications for color and logo placement, which must be followed whenever the logo is used.
Please request the logo image from Chapter Services; do NOT make copies of the logo from the Audubon website, or other electronic or printed materials.
Logo Color Scheme
The word Audubon is:
C:100% M:0% Y:56% K:18%
The Great Egret is:
PMS Warm Gray 11
C:0% M:15% Y:34% K:60%
As an independent corporation, a Chapter and its activities are not covered under the National Audubon Society's insurance coverage’s. Each Chapter will need to carefully evaluate its insurance needs, and decide what types and level of insurance is needed. As a courtesy to Chapters, National Audubon has identified several companies that can provide policies at various levels of cost and coverage for Chapters to consider. As other opportunities come to our attention, we will notify Chapters.
It is the responsibility of each Chapter to learn as much as possible about each policy and then relate it to the specifics of their individual Chapter structure and activities.
Some key considerations in evaluating an insurance provider should include:
Following are companies that can offer insurance for Chapters:
- Alliant Insurance Services arranges insurance coverage for several large nationally known Conservation/Preservation non-profits. They have a discounted insurance program through Chubb Insurance Company.
The basic Program consists of a Package policy, which includes general liability, non-owned/hired auto and property coverage’s. Optional additional insurances available include umbrella liability, workers' compensation/employees liability, volunteer worker accident and directors' and officers' liability. For more details regarding the Conserve-A-Nation Insurance program, please contact:
- Pachner & Associates, LLC describes its specialty as insurance programs for nature education, environmental conservation, environmental research, trail associations, outdoor activity clubs, and commercial non-motorized outdoor recreation around the U.S. They are members of the The Conservation Alliance.
The following group insurance program is specifically designed for and offered only to certified chapters of National Audubon Society. The basic rate includes coverage on typical chapter activities for commercial general liability, legal liability to participants, participant excess medical payments coverage, professional liability and non-owned/hired automobile liability. Property insurance on buildings and discounted Group Directors & Officers Liability is available on a separate policy. An optional menu of additional coverage is available to meet the additional insurance needs of the chapter.
Contact them via email at kestrel-at-pachner.info or phone toll free (888) 582-4884. Their mailing address is POB 926, Bedford, NY 10506-0926. Program information, brochures and applications can be accessed on their web site at www.pachner.info/nonprofit-nas.html.
- R.V. Nuccio and Associates offer a basic policy for Chapters that do not own land, rent offices or have staff. Underwritten by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, the basic policy offers general liability insurance protection as low as $265 with additional options for bonding, business personal property replacement, and directors' and officers' liability coverage for as low as $88 a year.
For any questions about the policy, please contact R.V. Nuccio and Associates directly at:
Robert V. Nuccio, President and Chief Executive Officer
R.V. Nuccio and Associates
Chapters of the National Audubon Society share membership with the national organization, but the management and legal structure of the Chapter is separate and controlled by its Board of Directors. Because they are autonomous local organizations, local Chapters do not fall under the National Audubon Society’s tax-exempt status.
It is strongly urged that each Chapter incorporate in its state and then apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, for protection of the organization and its local Board of Directors as well as for fundraising advantages.
Each state has different incorporation processes and requirements. Please browse the links below regarding incorporation/tax exemption and related issues. We recommend that you find a local attorney who can guide you through the processes of incorporating in your state (thereby assuring that your Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws are in compliance with your particular state’s rules) and of applying to the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
After your Chapter has been incorporated, please send a copy of your certificate of incorporation, bylaws and IRS tax-exempt determination letter to your State Office and to the Chapter Services Office. When changes to these documents are made, please send copies of the new versions to these same offices.
Because of the variations between states in the incorporation process, sales tax and property tax laws, and state solicitation statutes, and the ongoing requirements for annual tax and solicitation filings, it is important for each Chapter to find experienced and knowledgeable local counsel (an attorney and/or accountant) to guide the Chapter through the incorporation and exemption process and to provide ongoing service to ensure that the Chapter is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
In addition, it is equally important for each Chapter to establish an internal process to ensure that filings are completed and regulations adhered to. The creation of a manual to hold charter documents, annual filings and the applicable rules and regulations would aid new Chapter officers in complying with these requirements.
As noted above, incorporation on the state level as a non-profit corporation does not alone result in a Chapter becoming a tax-exempt entity to which donations are tax deductible. Instead, to become tax-exempt, after incorporating under state law, Chapters must subsequently file an application with the IRS for tax exempt status as a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. If a Chapter incorporates but does not obtain a federal tax exemption, it will be subject to both federal and state corporate tax.
501(c) (3) organizations enjoy a number of advantages. They do not pay federal income tax (except on unrelated business income) and contributions to them entitle donors to federal income, estate and gift tax deductions. In addition, most foundations and governmental entities will only make grants to 501(c)(3) organizations.
The tax-exempt status of National Audubon Society does not extend to its Chapters. Chapters are autonomous organizations.
While the following discussion serves as a guideline for obtaining tax-exempt status, Chapters should also consult an attorney with regard to filing the exemption application.
Applicants for tax exemption must use IRS Form 1023.
The IRS also issues numerous publications addressing the requirements for tax exempt status and the application process for such status, including the Tax-Exempt Organizations Tax Kit, which contains federal forms and publications pertinent to tax-exempt organizations, and a detailed review of what an organization must know and do to apply for tax exempt status. These publications may also be obtained by calling the IRS or by downloading them from the website.
Generally organizations should file for tax exemption no later than twenty-seven months after the date of their incorporation. This is especially important because, if this deadline is met, and the IRS approves the application, the exemption will be retroactive to the date of the Chapter’s incorporation. Although, it is difficult to predict, it may take up to six to nine months for the IRS to act on an exemption application.
If more than twenty-seven months have elapsed since the date of incorporation tax exemption will not be retroactive and the organization will be subject to state for-profit corporate and tax laws. A Chapter in this situation should seek local counsel prior to applying for tax exemption
After incorporating and prior to filing an exemption application, an organization should obtain an Employer Identification Number, even if it does not have and never expects to have employees. This number is the Chapter’s identification number, akin to an individual’s Social Security number. To apply for an Employer Identification Number file a completed Form SS-4 with the IRS.
Once the IRS approves the exemption application, it will issue a Letter of Determination. The Letter of Determination establishes your Chapter as an organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
However, for the first three to five years it is exempt, your organization will be given provisional status as a "publicly supported" organization. Within Section 501(c)(3), organizations are subclassified as public charities or private foundations. For many reasons, it is advantageous to be classified as a public charity and not as a private foundation. The IRS will specify a date when you will have to certify that your organization has met the “public support” test- namely that during this period, at least one-third of your total income was derived from support by the general public, which includes the Chapter’s membership dues. If the support test has been met, the IRS will then issue a definitive ruling, establishing your Chapter as a publicly- supported 501(c)(3) organization for as long as it meets the requirements.
You will often be asked to provide a copy of the Letter of Determination to prospective donors (especially foundations and corporations) as evidence of your exempt status. If you have misplaced your Letter you may obtain a replacement by calling or writing the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Customer Service Division (877-829-5500; Internal Revenue Service, EP/EO Division, Customer Service, PO Box 2508, Cincinnati, Ohio 45201) with the name of your Chapter and its Employer ID number.
Incorporation as a not-for-profit corporation generally relieves members, officers, and directors from individual liability arising out of accidents or other unforeseen events. Incorporation also results in a more orderly organizational structure, which can be particularly important when it comes to ownership or leasing of real estate and opening of bank accounts. Incorporation is governed by state law and varies somewhat from state to state. It is best handled by a local attorney. Incorporation is also required by the Internal Revenue Service when a chapter seeks tax exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code. Check with your Secretary of State's office to determine the procedure for incorporation in your State.
Upon receiving your Letter of Determination from the IRS you should proceed to take advantage of your exempt status by applying within your state for a state sales tax exemption. In general, this is done through the Department of Taxation in your state. This exemption will allow you to purchase items for your organization free of local and state sales tax. If your organization owns land and uses it for your charitable purposes, you may also be able to take advantage of local property tax exemptions. Property tax laws differ considerably from state to state and by locality, therefore, local counsel should be used to guide you through such an application.
Audubon Chapters that qualify as 501(c)(3) non-profit public charities must file an annual information return using Form 990 or 990-EZ. If annual gross receipts do not normally exceed $25,000, an annual electronic notice (e-Postcard) Form 990-N (http://epostcard.form990.org/) generally may be filed instead. The deadline to file is May 15th for all organizations whose tax year ends on December 31. Organizations whose tax year is different from the calendar year must file by the 15th day of the 5th month after the close of their tax year.
Learn more and download IRS forms at http://www.irs.gov/charities/index.html. Please consult your tax advisor to determine the application of these requirements to your Chapter.
The IRS has often dropped 501(c)(3) entities in good standing from its comprehensive list of 501(c)(3) exempt organizations--Publication 78--because they have not filed their annual return. Inclusion in Publication 78 is important because it is often used by corporate and foundation donors to confirm an organization’s exempt status.
Most states also require exempt organizations to file annual returns (most often with the Secretary of State or State Attorney General and, in many cases, even if the organization’s annual gross receipts are less than $25,000) and many accept Form 990 in lieu of their own forms.
Federal law requires that exempt organizations send a copy of Form 990 (and make it available on their premises) to all members of the public requesting it.
Upon receiving your Letter of Determination, you may apply for a third-class, nonprofit bulk mailing permit from the U.S. Post Office from which mailings will be sent. The postmaster can tell you the price of the annual fee and of the special per-item mailing rate. The permit holder is required to separate all bulk mailings by zip code and organize them to certain specifications. Despite this extra burden, third-class bulk mailing is quite economical for large mailings such as newsletters and notices of meetings.
Learn more about non-profit bulk mailing at http://pe.usps.com/businessmail101/getstarted/bulkMail.htm.
What is Move Update?
Move Update involves the periodic matching of a mailer’s address records with Postal Service customer-filed change-of-address orders, and is used to reduce the number of mail pieces that require forwarding or return due to incorrect addresses. Non-profits using bulk mail must certify on the postage statement submitted with each mailing that the address on each mail piece has been updated within the previous 95 days. If it is the first time the Chapter has gone through an address update process, a pre-mailing method method must be used. A pre-mailing method must also be used if it is been more than 95 days since the addresses have been updated. Otherwise, a post-mailing method may be used.
Can Audubon provide Chapters with a Certification of Move Update Compliance for the addresses on monthly Chapter membership rosters or mailing labels?
Unfortunately, it is not possible for Audubon to provide that certification. Once the roster or mailing labels are downloaded from the Chapter Reporting System website, Audubon no longer retains control of the membership list. The mailing method must be certified by the owner of the mailing (i.e. the Chapter).
How can a Chapter comply with the new Move Update standards?
There are several different ways to comply with the USPS bulk mail Move Update requirements. You can read more on these methods at https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=moveupdate.
Alternatively, one can bypass the Move Update standard, and avoid any fees, by including “OR CURRENT RESIDENT” or “OR CURRENT OCCUPANT” on the address. However, if the resident or business has moved, that mail piece will not be forwarded or returned to the Post Office. Read more at http://bulkmail.info/moveupdate.html.
How much does Move Update cost?
Cost varies depending on the method you choose for updating addresses. If you need to do a pre-mailing, please contact one of your local mailing houses (i.e., direct mail services). As of fall 2011, it cost about $25 to update 1,000 addresses. Ancillary service endorsements have small fees associated for each mailpiece, for example, the "return service requested" endorsement will cost first-class stamp postage for USPS to return the mailpiece to you with either an address update or an explanation of a bad address, and if you choose to resend the maipiece to the member, it will cost you first-class postage.
Pre-mailing is when you perform Move Update processing on your address list before you mail. Contact your local mailing house (i.e., direct mail service) for more information.
Post-mailing is when you mail to the existing addresses that you have on file and, after the mailing, the Postal Service will notify you about the new addresses of any customers who have moved.
The primary reason many organizations seek and obtain a tax exemption is to be able to compete with other charitable organizations for donor dollars. Individuals are far less likely to donate (while living or under a will) to an organization if they can not obtain an income or estate tax deduction for their contribution. Foundations, corporations and governmental entities often will only make grants to organizations with 501(c)(3) status.
State regulations governing fundraising by exempt organizations have grown more numerous and complex. Virtually every state now requires exempt organizations that intend to fundraise in that state to register with the state prior to conducting fundraising activity and to file annual reports documenting their activity.
In addition, most states require companies and individuals that provide fundraising solicitation and consulting services to exempt organizations to register prior to providing such services. Many states require the organizations to enter into a written contract with solicitors and consultants and to file the contract with the state prior to the provision of services. In many cases, organizations are subject to penalties if they hire a solicitor or consultant who is not properly registered. Finally, many states require that certain written information (or oral statements) be included in all fundraising materials sent into that state or as part of telephone solicitations within that state. The IRS website provides a portal where you can review the requirements for the states in which your organization solicits funds: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=129028,00.html.
Non-profit organizations must also comply with the IRS acknowledgement and disclosure requirements when receiving certain contributions. The IRS website provides a publication aimed at the general public that provides more information on these requirements: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1771.pdf. Chapters are encouraged to consult with their legal and financial advisors on these and any other applicable requirements.
Federal law permits publicly supported 501(c)(3) organizations to ”lobby” (as defined in the Internal Revenue Code) so long as lobbying activities do not constitute more than an insubstantial amount of the organization’s total activities. Such organizations may elect to be covered under Section 4911 of the Internal Revenue Code which prescribes specific dollar limitation safe harbors on lobbying based on an organization’s annual revenues (National Audubon Society is an electing organization).
Lobbying, as defined in the Code, is further subclassified into “direct” and “grassroots” lobbying; and the dollar limitations referred to above are broken down by these two categories. Organizations exceeding the prescribed amounts are subject to taxes, penalties and, ultimately, possible loss of tax exempt status. Learn more through the IRS website.
Chapter troubles can arise at any time for a variety of reasons. If any variable within the Chapter falls out of balance--leadership, finances, membership, strategic direction, etc--things could spiral downward quickly if a solid process is not in place to address the issue(s) at hand.
The Chapter should review the Fundamentals for Chapter Success and Chapter Benchmarks, to further identify areas that require strengthening. A good Chapter planning session may be needed, and/or a review of the Chapter's bylaws. Many problems can be solved by referring to the bylaws or strategic plan--they serve as guidelines for the Chapters operations and activities. If your leaders have lost enthusiasm for the Chapter mission, it might be time for an Extreme Chapter Makeover.
Following are some of the most common reasons that can lead to the weakening or downfall of a Chapter.
Don't hesitate to contact your State Office or Chapter Services Office to find someone with whom you can share your Chapter's struggles and work together towards solutions.
Since Chapters vary significantly in how they are organized, the ideas contained in this section should be adapted to fit your particular Chapter’s structure and circumstances. We have found, however, that there are a few principles that are vital ingredients for maintaining an energetic, diverse board. The trick is to maintain both continuity of experience and regular infusion of new blood, not an easy balance to achieve.
The “Care and Feeding” of Chapter Leaders
One Chapter leader put it this way: “The critical role of the Chapter’s top office is the ‘care and feeding’ of board members. The sensitive use of praise and encouragement and urging when needed is the key to a good Chapter. Resolving internal bad feelings and misunderstandings is crucial to board harmony and success.”
The Chapter president and probably one or more of the vice presidents need to view a major part of their responsibility as the “care and feeding” of other Chapter leaders in order to maintain the sense of teamwork that is the magic ingredient in a successful Chapter board. This means sensing the new leader who is floundering and providing him or her with some extra assistance from the president or other experienced leaders. It also means developing a fine sense of fitting the right person to the task. Chapters often run into problems when they delegate a task to a person who is either too inexperienced or just not well suited. Taking care of Chapter leaders takes time, but it is an investment that will bring your Chapter lasting rewards and perhaps even provide the “magic ingredient” for the Chapter’s success.
Limiting Terms of Office
By providing clear limits on the terms of office, particularly for key positions such as president, vice president and treasurer, the Chapter will develop the habit of recruiting new leaders into the fold. A diverse and lively board usually has a regular influx of new members, but this will not happen without some real commitment by the board’s leadership to recruit new blood to the board. Limiting terms of office will help focus the board’s recruitment efforts.
Board Commitment to Regular Recruitment of Leaders
Recruitment of leaders is most successful when the Chapter has full commitment from the entire board to help recruit from the bottom up. With this commitment, the Chapter is likely to have developed a number of newer volunteers who are ready to take on more responsibility and become committee chairs and board members. If the Chapter does not have a healthy pool of volunteers actively involved in projects, it will be harder to identify new leaders.
Coping with the Normal Ebb and Flow of Chapter Dynamics
The Chapter dynamic will, of course, reflect the energy of its board and leaders. Experience shows that virtually all Chapters go through cycles in which that energy will ebb and flow. This principle also applied to committees. In any given year a Chapter will have some committees that are stronger than others. As leaders come, go, and change positions, the dynamics of the Chapter will change too. New Chapter leaders sometimes find it hard to see the longer view of Chapter dynamics and may get discouraged because of a few rough years. An amazing thing about Chapters is that a Chapter that seems to be headed in a downward spiral over three or four years can suddenly have a complete turn around with the recruitment of just a few new leaders. It can be very helpful to recognize this normal fluctuation in Chapter dynamics, and not view certain Chapter weaknesses as failures. As one Chapter leader has said, “What is important is the overall forward motion will most likely be governed by the board’s commitment to and clarity of the Chapter’s mission and goals.
Training for Volunteer Leaders
Is the extent of training for committee chairs merely passing on a “cat box” full of stuff from the last committee chair? Too often, this is the extent of preparation for major responsibilities. Your Chapter will function much more smoothly and will be more dynamic if it plans time for leadership training. Some Chapters train leaders in the following ways:
The way Chapters organize themselves is often related to traditions established by the founders. The number and type of committees and officers vary from Chapter to Chapter. You may want to periodically reassess how your Chapter is organized to be sure that the structure is fulfilling the Chapter’s needs. This assessment should be a part of the planning process.
Perhaps the Chapter has never had a fundraising committee and as its goals and projects have grown, it makes sense to establish one. Or perhaps the newsletter has always been handled by one person who has recently retired, presenting an opportunity to restructure that job so that a number of people can be involved in developing and producing the newsletter. Whatever your Chapter’s situation, a key to continued successful leadership is that the officers and, hopefully, the whole board view leadership recruitment as a top priority and are willing to continually re-evaluate their work and make adjustments to ensure the continued vitality of the Chapter.
If the Chapter has not been functioning due to the fact that key Chapter leaders have either moved, become out of reach, or have lost interest, and no other core leaders have come forward to take their place, the Chapter may request of their State Office (where applicable) or Chapter Services to be put on hold. Holding status is a time during which the Chapter attempts to reorganize and re-engage. Chapters in holding status are not required to send an annual report and will not receive their baseline payment for the coming year. The State Office or Chapter Services Office will make every effort to help restart the Chapter. When the Chapter has returned to a functional state, it must notify the State Office or Chapter Services Office to be removed from hold status.
Circumstances may arise under which either a Chapter or National may choose to reconsider their relationship. These situations include but are not limited to:
In such situations, it is the responsibility of the State Director or Chapter Services Office (in states without a State Office) to work with the Chapter to attempt to return the Chapter to full activity or to compliance with the Chapter Policy. The State Director or Chapter Services Office is encouraged to use whatever tools or resources are needed to restore the Chapter to full Chapter activity or to compliance; options might include formulation of a remedial plan, or designation of "reorganization" status for Chapters needing additional time with temporary suspension of dues share and access to the mailing list.
If the Chapter is not able or willing to return to full activity or to compliance, then the State Director, acting after consultation with the State Board, or the Chapter Services Office (for Chapters in states without a State Office) may recommend to the Vice President of Chapter Services that Chapter de-certification is warranted and request revocation of a Chapter’s charter. If that recommendation is approved, the Vice President of Chapter Services will provide sixty (60) days written notice of de-certification to the Chapter President.
Any Chapter, by vote of its Board, may revoke its charter and cease to be a Chapter of National by providing sixty (60) days written notice of such decision to its State Director or the Chapter Services Office (for Chapters in states without a State Office).
In any case, each member of the Chapter will remain a member of Audubon for as long as their membership is current.
When a new Chapter forms, it is assigned a unique, 3-digit code. When communicating with Audubon staff, it is helpful to know your Chapter code. Please find your code on the list below and keep it for handy reference.
The code is also used as part of the 8-digit membership source code for recruiting and tracking Audubon members. Read more