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STARTING A xxxMED

LABMED has been approached by a number of dedicated dog lovers who would like to form an organization similar to LABMED for their breed. In order to expedite that process, we've put together this information page.

Each breed, each group, has different needs. Each xxxMED will be slightly different. LABMED was started as a volunteer initiative, rather than a club project. This is what worked for us and we can give you information on our experiences from that perspective. Your group may want to approach it differently, but hopefully our information will still be of assistance to you.

Please feel free to print out the contents of the LABMED web pages at http://www.labmed.org for study.

  1. What other xxxMED organizations are there that we might approach for information?

    There are several other Breed MEDS already:

    Pyr-amedic Trust for Great Pyrenees is still under construction.

    Labrador Lifeline is another organization for Labradors. The Goldstock Fund and IMOM (In Memory of Magic), are organizations for all pets. Each of these organizations has a slightly different approach to the xxxMED concept.

  2. How many people does it take to form such an organization?

    Initially, the idea for an organization like LABMED was conceived by two people -- Deb Hamele and Tom Gaffigan. Thanks to the wide range of communication provided by the Internet, the idea they conceived quickly grew. LABMED's first Board consisted of 19 volunteers.

  3. How many Board Members does LABMED have? Can you tell me if that number seems to work OK? We are thinking of a smaller Board, but I was wondering if your group had any tips as to a good number to have.

    Our Board currently has provision for 20 members. Because we are a working board and do most of our fund raising and PR ourselves, our Board Members are all very busy. When deciding on how many members to have, you need to remember that with a volunteer organization, levels of activity vary from time to time and from person to person.

  4. Does LABMED have any paid staff?

    LABMED is all volunteer and has been from the start.

  5. How do you deal with the fact that Board Members are living so far apart?

    Since all business is conducted over the Internet, geographical location of Board Members is not an issue; we have had Board Members from as far away as Australia.

  6. Since I would be the one getting it going, would I always be the President.... or is there a way to be sure that I am always a part of the organization, or can I be voted out? Does anyone really "own" such an organization?

    That would depend on how you set up your organization. You would have to check the rules for non-profits to see if a sole ownership is allowed. In LABMED, because we are an officially incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, no one "owns" the organization. The entire Board of Directors essentially owns it.

    LABMED Board Members are selected by an application process and 2/3 majority vote of the existing Board. New members serve a three-month "intern" period. Interns have all privileges of a full member, except that they do not vote on policy or personnel issues. This allows for a learning period before interns become full Board members (by majority vote).

  7. To form a non-profit, would we need to have a Constitution and By-Laws (like a Club) or a Mission Statement, or what?

    For detailed information about filing requirements, see http://www.irs.gov/bus_info/eo/char-orgs.html

  8. Do you start the organization first and start raising funds, or do you file all the paperwork first?

    You can start raising funds right away. After you file and receive 501(c)(3) status, tax exemption is retroactive but a time limit may apply. Please refer to http://www.irs.gov/bus_info/eo/char-orgs.html for details.

  9. Did you have a lawyer help you?

    We did not use a lawyer. We had a Board Member who had some experience in filing incorporation papers and she did LABMED's incorporation filing. LABMED's president at the time ended up filing the 501(c)(3) papers for the group. Not hard, but LOTS of reading. Lots of questions to ask and answer.

    Before you decide whether you would like to have a lawyer handle the paperwork for you, go to your local library and look at the books they have on starting a non-profit corporation. We relied heavily on the book called: How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation (4th Ed) by Anthony Mancuso.

  10. Approximately what are the startup costs? What (if any) administrative costs are there? For example, do you pay for the Web site space and/or telephone/fax bills and/or any other things beyond the medical bills?

    For filing, costs will vary from state to state. Filing the 501(c)(3) application was expensive. The fee is based on revenues and our fee was $500. If everything is done in-house, you will not have administrative costs at the start.

    After you get moving on things, you will have your usual business expenses: stationery package, printing, web page, advertising, and office supplies, etc. These expenses CAN BE delayed if you have a small enough group and are content with slight irregularities (differences in printers, fonts, colors, etc.) Our Web space is donated; our Web design was done in house. LABMED does not have office space or any office equipment, so we have no "occupancy" expenses. All of our Board Members are volunteers, so there are no salaries to pay. Any expenses incurred by Board Members may be reimbursed by the organization or the Board Members may elect to donate their expenses and take a tax deduction.

  11. Do you have any sort of relationship with the Parent Breed Club? I know that some rescue groups and breed groups get along horribly, but some have a pretty decent relationship.

    We do not have a formal relationship with the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., but we are on friendly terms and the LRC is very supportive. A good relationship with your parent club, your local breed clubs and local rescue groups should come in very handy.

  12. Do you carry any form of liability insurance?

    We do not have liability insurance at this time.

  13. How difficult is it to do taxes each year?

    This depends on how you keep your records during the year. Taxes are easier to do if you record your income and expenses in a way that corresponds to what you will need to report on your form 990. When determining your record keeping procedures and setting up accounts, looking at the Form 990 or 990 EZ to see what you will need to report may be very helpful.

  14. How do you handle applications for assistance?

    Applications come in from our web site to three LABMED Board Members. If the application is an emergency, the first person that sees it sends it on to the Board. If it is not an emergency, it is the Secretary's responsibility to send it on to the Board.

    First, we look quickly at the application to see if it appears to meet our funding guidelines. If it looks like the dog does not meet our guidelines, for whatever reason, the application is presented to the Board with a motion to deny funding.

    If the application looks like it might meet our guidelines, it is forwarded to the Board, and the floor is open for discussion. The Board Member handling the application maintains contact with the applicant throughout the process and contacts the vet who has seen the dog to confirm the medical information in the application.

    Once we feel we have the information we need, including a picture of the dog to confirm that it is a Labrador or Lab-mix, any Board Member can make a motion to fund. The motion states the amount we will grant towards the medical treatment. We allow 48 hours for discussion after a motion. The Secretary then calls the vote and we allow 48 hours to ensure all Board Members have an opportunity to vote. The applicant is notified of the results of the vote. After the dog has completed the treatment, we are funding and we have a copy of the final bill, we issue a check to either the veterinarian or the applicant.

  15. What were the traps, problems, or pitfalls that you had in getting the organization off the ground? What would you have done differently?


  16. What advice would you give to us, or, what advice have you given to fanciers of other breeds that have set up similar organizations?

    Do your homework! There are many rules and regulations for charitable organizations and they vary by location. You may need to spend many hours researching the different rules of federal, state and local authorities.

  17. Would you be willing to share a copy of your incorporation papers, 501(c)(3) papers, bylaws, and any operating manual or policies that you have?

    Those documents are all open to public inspections and yes, we would be glad to provide you with a copy. (Donations to cover the copying and mailing costs would be appreciated.)

If you have questions that are not covered here, please feel free to contact us at info@labmed.org. We'll be revising this FAQ as necessary, and your questions will help us as we update.

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