MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- -- With more than 50 non-profit private organizations and unofficial activity groups in the Maxwell community, the 42nd Force Support Squadron helps ensure everyone in those groups and those interested in forming new groups are aware of the guidelines that govern their activities.
At the two workshops held last week for training and questions, Christina Baumayr, a private organization program coordinator with the FSS, explained the Air Force and state guidelines for both private organizations and unofficial activity groups, and explained the differences between the two.
"The main difference is their bank account. The borderline is a $1,000 limit in a three-month period," said Baumayr. "If you're an unofficial activity and you stay below the thousand dollars, that's where you qualify. If you go above $1,000 in a three-month period, you automatically become a private org."
Constitutions, by-laws, financial forms and fundraising requests are all required for private organizations. Templates are provided by FSS through its website 42fss.us, and FSS staff is available to guide groups through the review process and answer any questions along the way.
Organizations may fundraise, though only two fundraisers are allowed per quarter and will be sent to the legal office for review. However, if there are reoccurrences of the same fundraiser, they may be counted as one activity, explained Lorna Fermanis, FSS deputy commander.
"If you're gift wrapping four different times, turn in a fundraising request form with four dates on it. How JAG [Judge Advocate General] reads that is one fundraiser activity," she explained. "However if you're doing a bake sale that quarter and a car wash that quarter, those are two separate fundraisers, because those are two separate events. So be smart when you're planning."
Fundraisers should never be conducted by members while they are on the clock or in uniform if they are military.
"Military, you are not to be in uniform whenever conducting a fundraiser," said Baumayr. "If you're going to wrap gifts at the BX [base exchange], you have to change out of uniform and it has to be on your own time, a lunch break, after work or before work. You can't be on the clock."
Common areas in the workplace are authorized places to host a fundraiser, such as in a courtyard or break room, with permission from the building manager. Organization members cannot go door-to-door to individual offices soliciting for their organization.
For locations away from the workplace, like the commissary or BX, building managers must also sign-off their permission as well as from Air Force Exchange Service store managers, if an organization decides to sell an item AAFES offers.
Money raised by private organizations during the Air Force Assistance Fund and the Combined Federal Campaign drives from February to March and from September to November respectively, will be donated to the general fund for those base-wide campaigns.
Similar to fundraisers, fliers can be placed in common areas of the workplace such as a break room or mail room rather than individual offices and should not be sent through military email or use any government resources, said Baumayr. Fliers should also be submitted with the fundraising request form for approval.
"You can't go printing out your fliers on your copy machine at work. That's not allowed. You can't use government resources to help set up," said Baumayr. "You have to use your fliers, word-of-mouth or create a Facebook account for your organization and send it out that way."
Donations and door prizes
Though organizations are allowed to accept monetary donations on or off base, coupons, gift certificates, ads or other items, donors must be aware they are giving to a non-profit organization, separate from the military or Maxwell, Baumayr said.
"You are completely separate, you are a non-profit organization," she said. "Again, you can't be in uniform, that sort of thing that gives off the impression that they're giving to the military or Maxwell Air Force Base. This is your organization."
Baumayr also stressed that any type of raffle will not be allowed because of state laws.
"Because of Alabama's state law, we are not allowed to gamble, and raffling is considered a form of gambling." she explained.
Fermanis added that door prizes are a great alternative.
"A raffle is where you go around selling tickets for a buck trying to win a TV. A door prize is when I take five dollars to go to my holiday Christmas party, and I might have a chance to win a TV," explained Fermanis. "That's different, because you pay for the meal and with that meal you have a chance to maybe win something."
Private organizations must renew their constitution, by-laws and officer list consisting of the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer annually and when there are any changes made to the documents.
Financial paperwork needed for private organizations consists of a budget, an income expense statement and a balance sheet. An insurance waiver or a copy of insurance and name waivers are also required. Organization names should not be affiliated with Maxwell, Gunter or any military unit.
To be an unofficial activity, the only paperwork requirement needed are the three financial forms, an officer list and registration for becoming an unofficial activity. Each form will have to be updated annually.
March 31 is the deadline for all paperwork for private organizations and unofficial activities or they will not be able to participate. Also, if a group does not have its paperwork updated within 90 days of the deadline, it will be suspended, contacted and eventually dissolved if no cooperation by the organization is made.