Seeking to find means to raise their profile in the outdoor industry, a two-thirds majority of The Conservation Alliance's 68 members voted 35 to 1 on Monday in favor of changing its tax status and amending the Articles of Incorporation.
Following the successful vote, The Conservation Alliance will now seek IRS tax-exempt classification from a 501(c)4 to a 501(c)3. Under the new classification, donations made to the alliance would be tax deductible, making it more attractive to potential donors.
Menno van Wyk, Conservation Alliance board member and CEO of Montrail, told SNEWS® that the driving force behind the change of status was to allow donations made to the Alliance to become tax-deductible.
"When we incorporated 13 years ago, the board at that time thought it was more important to have flexibility to be able to lobby politically as well as get involved with advocacy programs of various kinds than it was to offer tax deductible status to member contributions," said Wyk. "We've since discovered that have a tax-deductible status is very, very important to members and even more important as we begin to seek funding from private foundations."
The Conservation Alliance wants to begin seeking foundation grants to provide funding for marketing efforts and outreach communication. In that way, the Alliance can continue to maintain its history of allocating 100 percent of membership dues and donations to fund grants to grassroots environmental causes and organizations.
SNEWS® View: This is a smart move for The Conservation Alliance. Only 68 members is a mere pittance and it is no secret that the all volunteer board and staff have had to work inordinately hard to convince industry companies and individuals that Alliance membership and donations are worth the money. By creating the means for membership donations to now be tax-deductible the Alliance has instantly become more attractive. In addition, by establishing funding for marketing efforts, the industry will now become aware of what The Conservation Alliance is all about through images and information rather than the primary word-of-mouth current promotional practice. As a 501(c)3 organization the Alliance is precluded from directly participating in or supporting election campaigns or candidates for public office, but it is still allowed to participate in influencing public policy and educating the public. It can also now donate 20 percent of its charitable expenditures (last year the Alliance awarded slightly less than $210,000, meaning $42,000 would have been available to donate) to direct lobbying activities had the money been available and the Alliance had chosen to do so. Does this mean The Conservation Alliance could help fund Outdoor Industry Association lobbying work? Could be, and that's a good thing. For more information, click on www.conservationalliance.com