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Civic Association earns 501(c)(3) status

August 21, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It was a long time coming, but the North Fort Myers Civic Association has been granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status, which should make fundraising much easier for an organization that has worked to become a rising force in the community.

The status was granted two weeks ago by the Internal Revenue Service, thus accomplishing something president Doug Dailey had seen as a priority when he took over the Civic Association 18 months ago.

"I wanted to see what we can do to bring the Civic Association into 501(c)(3) status and we got that accomplished. We got everything from the IRS and we are now a public charity," Dailey said.

The Civic Association announced the news last Tuesday during its monthly meeting at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center.

What this means is that the organization will have federal tax exemption as a charitable organization, private foundation or a private operating foundation.

One of the things 501(c)(3) status allows for is the tax deductibility of donations for federal tax purposes. There are other provisions that vary from state to state.

All 501(c)(3) organizations are highly regulated. No part of the activities or the net earnings can unfairly benefit any director, officer or any private individual. In addition, all assets are permanently dedicated to a charitable purpose. Intervention in political campaigns or the endorsement of candidates for public office is prohibited.

Having 501(c)(3) status comes with compliance requirements at both the state and federal level. Annual filing requirements include a corporate annual report.

"This means we can get more involved with community grants that we can now accept," Dailey said. "We can accept gifts and donations from businesses and individuals, who can deduct them. It will help us out as an organization overall to strengthen us as a viable organization."

The road to this status was a rocky one. The point man was former board member and attorney Mark Lipton, who passed away shortly after Christmas. Then came the government shutdown in January, which ground things to a halt for more than a month.

Having the status, along with the money the group has raised recently, should bring the Civic Association to the next level.

"In the past, finances for Civic wasn't really there," Dailey said. "In order to do the things we want to do by publicizing Civic, we need to accept things from the community and give back by making it a tax-free donation. It's a tremendous milestone. One of the bigger things they've done in the history of the organization. This will open up a lot of doors for us."

The Civic Association will hold another fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m., when it holds Drag Queen Bingo at Victory Lane Caf in North Fort Myers. Proceeds will go toward buying scientific calculators for students in need at North Fort Myers High School.



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