In Unity There Is Strength

Guidelines to Start an Emerald Society
 

Below are guidelines on starting an Emerald Society. They are intended to assist you in forming a society and are meant to help you start the process. We strongly recommend you check with legal and tax professionals in your society's area in order to assure that you are adhering to all laws and regulations in effect at the time of forming your Society.

1. NAME OF EMERALD SOCIETY - Use a geographical area (city or county ie: the Firefighters Emerald Society of Westchester County). Stay away from a single department name unless it is a very large department which would be able to draw large numbers into the society.

2. LOGO OF EMERALD SOCIETY - The logo of the Society is very important. It should be distinctive to your Society and area. If it is both Police and Fire, include symbols of both. This logo will be used on websites, letterhead, envelopes, and vehicle decals. Also, the logo will be used on merchandise (pins, hats, shirts etc.), which is a good fundraiser for the society.

3. EXECUTIVE BOARD - Gather a handful of like-minded persons who will agree to serve on the Executive Board for the purpose of filing and recording your charter (the official documents of incorporation). There should be a minimum of four persons (President, Vice President, Recording Secretary and Treasurer). As the organization / society grows, so should the board. Included should be the following positions: Trustees, Delegates, and various Departmental Representatives. The Executive Board is the "governing board of the society". They will determine the society's intended goal or mission. The purpose must be consistent with the laws governing a "Not for Profit" corporation.

4. BY - LAWS OF SOCIETY - They are very important to start a new organization. These By-Laws are the rules and procedures of running the society. It should also identify the purpose for the existence of the Society. They should include:

     Name

     Purpose/Objective

     Membership (who may become a member - active, associate, Irish decent etc.)

     Meetings

     Voting ( who can vote and what constitutes a quorum )

     Officers of the Executive Board ( also defines their duties )

     Elections ( yearly, bi-annually, eligibility to run and vote )

     Society activities that they will and will not engage in. ( Needed for Incorporation status and Non-Profit for IRS )

     Benefits ( if any )

     Amendments to By-Laws

5. ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION - This is very important because of legal considerations. Without incorporation papers, the society will not be considered for Non-Profit status by the IRS. Incorporation papers should be filed within the state the society is in. Filing would be with a state agency such as: State of _______ Department of Assessments and Taxation, or the Office of the Secretary of State. Articles of Incorporation can be the same as that of the society, however make sure to include the following:

     Authorization - corporation will follow state laws of corporation or associations.

     Place of Business - within the state ( PO Box # )

     Registered Agent - a person within the state where paper could be sent.

     Incorporations - Persons starting the corporations ( President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer) should be a min. of 3

     Prohibited Activities - This is standard language used by the IRSS that the Society will follow state and federal law for corporations and or non-profit corporations.

     Termination of Corporation - How the corporation can be dissolved and what happens to the assets, if there are any.

Incorporation papers are important in case of a law suit. The corporation will be sued and not the individual officers.

6. EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER - (IRS FORM SS-4 ) - An employer ID number is given to each organization for tax purposes. This number will be needed for your incorporation papers, non-profit status and opening a savings or checking account. Without this number, someone must use their personal social account number for the above purposes.  We highly recommend against that.

7. NON-PROFIT STATUS - After the organization gets the Employer Identification Number

(EIN) and has been established as a corporation with the state, the next step is to obtain the tax-exempt status from the IRS. There are many types of tax-exempt organizations (501-C) in which taxes are not required to be paid. Publication 557-Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization can be obtained by calling 1-800-829-3676 (8 AM- 4 PM). This publication will explain how to fill out the forms.

     The forms and paperwork needed are:

     A. Form 1024 - Application for Recognition under Section 501-CA. This is an eight page document.

     B. Form 8718 - Exempt Organization - Determination Letter Request. A check to the IRS for $150 must accompany the request. If the organization will make more than $10,000.00, the fee will be $465.00.

     C. Three years of budgets, or proposed budgets, will need to be submitted.

     D. The By-Laws of the organization

     E. Incorporation Papers

     The type of Non-Profit used by most Emerald Societies are either:

     501 (C) (8) - Fraternal Beneficiary Societies

You must meet the following requirements to be considered under this section:

     1. Fraternal Organization

     2. Operating under a lodge system of various chapters

     3. Provides benefits to its members

     501 (C) (10) Domestic Fraternal Societies

You must meet the following requirements to be considered under this section:

     1. Domestic Fraternal Organization

     2. Operates under a lodge system of chapters

     3. Devotes it's earnings to fraternal purposes

     4. Does not provide benefits to its members

8. TAX RETURN - Each organization should fill out tax returns each year to the state and federal government. Some of the tax forms that you may encounter are listed below:

     1.     1120-A     A short form for U.S. Corporations. For Emerald Societies that are incorporated but do not have Non-Profit status, or Form 1120 which is the long form.

     2.     990          A tax return for an organization exempt from income tax, for Emerald Societies that are Tax Exempted Non-Profit.

     3.     State Forms    Corporation income tax for Emerald Societies that are incorporated.

9. ANNUAL BUDGET - This is required by Incorporation Papers and by IRS regulations. Include all incoming money and expenses.

10. DUES - Establish a dues structure of financing the cost of fulfilling your society's purpose and recruit members. The dues should be January to December (annually) for tax purposes. Application forms are the best way to collect dues and will give you the necessary information on each member. After membership is granted, the new member should receive a membership card writing 30 days.

11. MEETINGS - Depending on the size of the organization, meetings should be held on a monthly or quarterly basis. Meetings do not have to be very formal, however they should have standard operating procedures for each meeting

(for example Atwoods Rules of Meetings etc. ). Meetings are a good time to raise funds for the society (ie: raffles or merchandise sales).

12. NEWSLETTER/ACTIVITIES - Many persons will ask what they will receive in return for their dues. Therefore, it is important to have social activities during the year (ie: meetings, parades, picnics, dinners or other social gatherings).

Just as important is to inform members of Emerald Society activities. A newsletter in one way, but with the internet and social media, you have many options at your disposal. Websites are a great way of getting your societies information out to members, prospective members and other organizations. You should include a list of your board members with contact information as well as any ongoing events and news.