Update: Here are all the updates that have occurred in the last few days. I am moving to turn ORBT into a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. Debby Winters is our attorney and she is graciously offering her services pro bono. Thanks Debby Winters!
Our first step was getting a Board of Directors. We have Jane Ann Loyd, Alex Marino, and Lucky McMahon as our first board. Thank you everyone. We also needed to select a name for our nonprofit. Long time members know I usually ask the membership to participate. We are Ozark Rail and Bus Transit because we gave our members a chance to suggest names. We had several of you suggest names, mine was rather long and dreary, so it’s okay mine wasn’t selected. We had a poll and ORBT won the vote by a large margin.
However, in this case our Attorney advised me that we need to move quickly. If I didn’t choose anything by default we would be Ozark Rail and Bus Transit, Inc. That sounds like we are going into business or that we might be a provider. Our other options were Foundation, which besides sounding like the title of an Issac Asimov novel makes us seem like we have more money that we do. So I went with Society since we are a community group. So Ozark Rail and Bus Transit Society it is. From now on our acronym is ORBTS.
Our filing is off to the Arkansas Secretary of State. After that is settled we will apply with the IRS for tax exempt status which takes some time and costs close to $500. Once the IRS approves our tax status we will be able to accept member dues, donations, receive grants, and raise money. And members will receive a tax deduction. Tee shirts and coffee mugs anyone?
I found out that as a 503 nonprofit we can’t lobby but we can pay our travel expenses to educate. For instance I can issue a call for 3 people to go to LR to rattle the cages of the Transportation Committee to kick loose some dough for a transit project. ORBTS will pay for our transportation (gas money), food, and lodging. The same for going to Washington DC or to attend a conference for networking.
ORBTS can raise money for other projects. We can raise money for an economic impact study. Or to help pay for up to date bus stops with full enclosures and overhead LED signs displaying the next two buses. And that’s just the beginning.
We will be even more legitimate. We have almost 500 members now and with corporate status we can start to grow our presence with the general public. We will be able to partner with other groups to promote projects or raise funds. The world is our oyster. Or at least fish and chips.
It’s a new year, a new Administration in Washington, and new opportunities for growth. Time to seize the moment and make something happen.
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