Homeschool Support Group-Organization and Tips

Homeschool Support Group
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Homeschool Support Group-Organize Your Homeschool Group for Success

Homeschool Support Group, "We're just a group of parents meeting weekly," a homeschooling co-op leader complained. "We don't want all the troubles of bank records, board conferences, and bylaws." Frequently, when helping homeschool groups, I favor establishing a board of directors and making laws for their organization. Some officers may question why a committee and bylaws are required at all.

Here are some reasons:

Homeschool Support Group-Managing Growth

Some people like their groups small, unregulated and trouble-free. There are enormous advantages to the small association model. In a small group, intimate associations form, accounting is manageable and meeting in a house is likely. But as the homeschooling tendency increases, so do our cooperatives, support organizations and other groups. We become the sacrifices of our success. Some associations disintegrate under the burden of big memberships, but more often, I see groups climb to the hurdles and become more established and increase their associations.

Homeschool Support Group-Non Profit and Apply for Tax Exemption

I was talking to, a homeschool leader, who told me she didn't have a council, or bylaws and held co-op funds in her checking account because, as she said, "The group was not an established nonprofit. We don't have tax-exempt standing with the IRS" Actually, the group should structure themselves as a non-profit, even before utilizing the IRS for tax-exempt status. The IRS looks for the conventional formation and a history of operating with a committee, among other duties, before it will grant tax-exempt status.

I recommended that this group open a nonprofit checking account for the co-op and name the co-op, establish a board, and create bylaws. After a year, the cooperative can begin petitioning for tax-exempt status with the IRS. They understood that it is better to create the proper structures early on to establish a history as a non-profit.

Homeschool Support Group-Avoid Being Personally Liable

The treasurer opened a personal checking account for her homeschool co-op's business. Checks came to the group in the treasurer's name. The group asked, "Does that put the responsibility on the treasurer?" The treasurer is in a very awkward position. The cash in her account looks like her income to the IRS. I urged her to open a new non-profit business checking account and have all checks written to the organization in the future.

The treasurer needs to guard herself against liability by detailing the financial situation of the association to the committee regularly. This requirement is written up in the bylaws, such as, "the responsibilities of the treasurer include periodic reporting to the board of the financial status of the organization." The purpose of regulation is to protect the organization from mismanagement. The bylaws, if followed, create an excellent form of protection against personal liability.

Homeschool Support Group-Forming a Board

If your homeschool group is expanding or already extensive, you cannot handle it alone, so find people to help you take the burden. The role of a homeschool administrator should be to assign duties so that everyone has a chance to add to the group. Pick people who are organized and can make judgments. Look for people who show enthusiasm and loyalty to your organization.

Approach a possible board member individually. Highlight their strengths and offerings to your organization and ask if they would be prepared to help in a leadership position. They may even feel privileged to be chosen. One leader knew my weaknesses for praise when she addressed me. "I'm surrounding myself with the sharpest, real people I know," she told me," and I want you." She made me feel fabulous and, quickly, I said I'd help!

Keep board member tasks well-outlined and limited. Some people are hesitant to offer themselves for leadership positions because they are afraid they will be stuck.  If you establish their role clearly and limit the term to one year, they are more likely to commit. Our homeschool committee looked around and saw that one particular woman was regularly there on time, had a loud voice and was already organizing field trips. We asked her to take the job of making morning announcements for the meetings.  We praised her organizational skills and preparedness! She agreed, and our director had a huge weight lifted!

Homeschool Support Group-Tips for Writing Bylaws

Bylaws tell how the group will operate, and they create the board of directors. Laws specify the organization's practices of internal operation. For instance, the bylaws restrict the number of members of the committee, the term each member works on the board, the officer positions, and how meetings run. The IRS requires bylaws if your group seeks IRS tax-exempt standing.

Here's a list of what to include in your bylaws:

Name: the legal name of your organization
Purpose statement
Location of your organization: city, county, and state
Qualifications for membership in your group
Meetings: frequency, quorum requirements, announcement of meetings
Board of Directors: size, how are board members are appointed, job descriptions of the officers, qualifications
Look at sample bylaws of other non-profit organizations. Many homeschool organizations have put them online. Do a Google search for "homeschool bylaws."

The benefits of bylaws are significant. Once the group is set-up the group is free to go about its business.