Non-profit fund raising for Spotter groups

Apr 10, 2005
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Omaha,Ne
I am sure that many of your local Skywarn/REACT groups are non-profit like ours is. What does your group do to raise money to support the group? I am looking for new ideas of either companies to send letters for donations or grants to apply for. Any ideas of sugestions wil be helpful!
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
878
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Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
If you're a 501c3, then fund raising is a lot easier as you can go after gambling proceeds and also go for benefactor funds from corporations. If you aren't a 501c3, then you're very limited, no matter your other affiliations.
 

Joe Dorn

EF2
Feb 27, 2005
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Belton, Texas
I am sure that many of your local Skywarn/REACT groups are non-profit like ours is. What does your group do to raise money to support the group? I am looking for new ideas of either companies to send letters for donations or grants to apply for. Any ideas of sugestions wil be helpful!
I know there are many different ways of handling SKYWARN activities but our rather large Central Texas area uses a local wide area repeater that is primarily dedicated to emergency communications. Email is used for pre-storm communications and other weather tidbits. Out of pocket SKYWARN expenses $0.00...

The Fort Worth NWS office has a training session in each of the CWA counties, usually at a free location. The larger sessions are held in auditoriums with fees attached. These are usually picked up by the county involved through their emergency management program.

That being said, the spotters and net control operators have thousands of dollars tied up in computers, programs, radios and other 'toys' to support the operations.

Some of the adjacent groups work through already established amateur radio clubs with no need for additional financing.




As another poster noted, if you are going to look for donations, especially cash, get your 501-C3 work done. We are working through that for a recently established amateur radio club at this time. There has been a lot of FEMA money out there. but it might be drying up.
 
Apr 10, 2005
79
4
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Omaha,Ne
Thanks for the info guys! Yes we are a 501c3 non-profit but no one in our group has much of an idea of where to start or who to contact. I have about $1k worth of equipment personally but not everyone in our group can afford to do that. We have some team radios but they are getting old. I would like to see our group get some good equipment and another repeater. NWS does their training out at Boys Town and the Red Cross lets us use a room for our monthly meeting at no charge which is nice. We have been trying to get an Emergency Operations trailer through the county for 3 years now and one would think that with the tornado and major wind storm we had this year they would jump on it, but the red tape still prevails. Keep the ideas comming!
 

Joe Dorn

EF2
Feb 27, 2005
129
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Belton, Texas
I would like to see our group get some good equipment and another repeater. NWS does their training out at Boys Town and the Red Cross lets us use a room for our monthly meeting at no charge which is nice. We have been trying to get an Emergency Operations trailer through the county for 3 years now and one would think that with the tornado and major wind storm we had this year they would jump on it, but the red tape still prevails. Keep the ideas comming!
No two operations or approaches are the same. Some questions and comments...

Does your NWS office have amateur radio equipment and available hams on site? Do you have a good relationship with the NWS people?

Why do you need a second repeater?

Can you connect to your NWS office with the one you have?

If not, have you considered Echolink?

I would think that the individual spotters would furnish their own radio's. (for the first 18 months after I returned to amateur radio, I used a H/T and a mag mount antenna.)

I have watched several groups that have a trailer and I see them as more trouble than they are worth with significant exceptions. The prolonged aftermath of Rita/Katrina and the shuttle recovery are two cases where they were or could have been of great value.

A designated location within a hardened site such as an EOC is preferred. We have such a location, but our SKYWARN operations are handled from home locations. (we cover a large area and have five designated net control locations.)

In most cases amateur radio is a temporary service and long term setups in the field are not needed. We have set up with a mobile radio, 12 volt power supply, and magmount antennas at shelter locations.

Initially the hams brought their own equipment, but we now have several 'go kits'. One of which saw service in Mississippi after Katrina. We had two in operation to support the evacuees from Ike.

Find out if there is a local emergency planning group and become a member. This is probably the best thing that I have done. I attended the meetings wearing something that identified me as a ham, and made myself available to give presentations about what we could do. I became a familiar face and Mr. Amateur Radio to the group.

I gave a presentation to a hospital group as a result and was given the financing to install radios in thirteen hospitals, now sixteen, in six counties.

We also received financing for our wide area repeater from the Texas Department of Health Services to cover those hospitals. Space was made available by a local TV station at 1600 feet AGL.

This repeater is now used primarily to support SKYWARN operations with EchoLink connectivity to Fort Worth.

We generated another problem, a lot of radios and not enough hams. We have setup a VE test group with two hundred new licenses and upgrades over the past two years (about half are not from our area).

This past year we have also sponsored 4 Technician classes with 45 new hams as a result. A new club has been formed with an emphasis on emergency support. Notice I wrote 'support', not communications; we get our hands dirty as needed.

At one point during the recent Ike evacuation, I looked around our EOC and it was staffed entirely by hams assigning shelters, routing buses and finding support services.

We now have a fairly sophisticated operation, but it started off with one local repeater and personal equipment. We made ourselves visible and doors started opening and money for equipment became available.

I will also add that several very dedicated people have put thousands of hours of work into making this happen.

The thing we like most? Spotting and SKYWARN... That is what holds us together. I am a weather nut first and foremost, all of this other stuff just happened.
 
Apr 10, 2005
79
4
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44
Omaha,Ne
I will try and answer all of your questions Joe.
Yes we have a good relationship with our NWS. Yes HAMS are there also (We use GMRS)
We need a secnd repeater as our coverage area is getting too big for the one that we have ( right now we cover a 3 county area with more in the future)
We have a base station stetup at NWS
No echolink as we use GMRS
Not everyone can afford to buy equipment but still want to help
The trailer would be use by us,HAMS and EMA
We have 2 base stations setup at EOC's of two counties
You mentioned your "go" kits. who paid for them?? Donation monies could be spent to buy a few!
Hope that wasn't too confusing! Thank you for your suggestions!
 

Jason Foster

Jason...thanks for replying on the Skywarn thread about how your group is set-up.

For actual fund raising, you will need to watch out for certain ways. The local ham radio club (Montgomery Amateur Radio Club, Inc.) which I am president of collects dues, and an additional emergency fund, which may be one way. Also, hit eham.com and other sites for requests for donated equipment...which is tax deductible. Contact other outlets for donated equipment, again, work the tax deduction angle. Also, offer a sponsorship side to those who donate. I'm not sure exactly about advertising, but I believe if some donates equipment, and you give them thanks and they provide a banner at an event for advertising...I think that is OK.

You can also look at the old fashion routes of t-shirt sales, admission for some events.

Another idea is to link up with a ham radio club...since that is a large percentage of Skywarn and even REACT interest.

And don't forget to simply just ask for donations. And have a place to donate on a website (perhaps with a paypal account...which I believe is free for donation transactions).

That said, you really need to be careful with the 501c3. I know certain limitation such as "social" events have restrictions on expeditures. If you have a lawyer or someone familiar with those types of restrictions, ask first.
 

Joe Dorn

EF2
Feb 27, 2005
129
0
5
84
Belton, Texas
I will try and answer all of your questions Joe.
Yes we have a good relationship with our NWS. Yes HAMS are there also (We use GMRS)
We need a secnd repeater as our coverage area is getting too big for the one that we have ( right now we cover a 3 county area with more in the future)
We have a base station stetup at NWS
No echolink as we use GMRS
Not everyone can afford to buy equipment but still want to help
The trailer would be use by us,HAMS and EMA
We have 2 base stations setup at EOC's of two counties
You mentioned your "go" kits. who paid for them?? Donation monies could be spent to buy a few!
Hope that wasn't too confusing! Thank you for your suggestions!
It is my turn to respond to your responses...:)

I have already responded once but hit the wrong button and lost it... Second try follows...

I am surprised to see that you choose GMRS over amateur radio. I am a little rusty on the rules and regs since I researched GMRS about five years ago for a CERT group. Each family, not organization, had to have a $75.00 license, renewal in five years for an additional $50.00 fee. With just a little bit more money, a good ham H/T can be purchased with a lot more capability and access.

The only advantage I see to a GMRS license is that no testing is required. As has been pointed out elsewhere on the forum, a Technician license is not that hard to acquire. The cost of the license is $14.00 for the test. The license is good for ten years and renewable at no charge.

Note: The fee will vary with the different national groups giving the tests, I give the ARRL VEC tests. Also there is a fee for an optional 'Vanity' license that varies with the mood of the FCC, My last renewal was about $12.00 if I recall correctly.

I notice that you are in the Omaha area, I would bet that there are amateur radio repeaters in all of the counties you need to add a GMRS repeater in. I just checked my GRL3 repeater add-on and see several across the river from you in Iowa. (apparently no one in Nebraska has added the ones in that state as of my last download)

The amateur radio service also brings additional capabilites such as EchoLink and APRS, both vital parts of our operation.

In regards to the trailer, each group has to make their own decision on that. I think that they are more trouble than they are worth. That being said, the absolute best amateur radio oriented vehicle I have seen belongs to a REACT group in the DFW area. It was paid for and supported with bingo earnings.

Almost all of our 'community' amateur radio equipment including the wide area repeater, the hospital network, and the 'Go Kits' has been paid for with FEMA monies through several different organizations. We worked hard to establish the relationships that made this possible.

Several of us have significant personal investments in support items. I personally have the Echolink interface and APRS Igates running 24/7 in my 'shack'.

I won't even go into the junk I stuffed into the truck when I went spotting. My eyes have deteriorated to the point that I can not drive safely in dim light.

I now pretty much run the local net with two multiple monitor computers (4 screens) with all the neat software on them and a dual band radio.

Obviously we have a different approach to a spotter network and almost every group does. There is no one right way...

Good luck on your funding.