Saturday, October 2, 2010

As The Asatru Kindred Grows

As The Asatru Kindred Grows Cover Sooner or later, there will be the need for the kindred leader to share the responsibility and workload of managing the Kindred with others. Early on one finds that the many tasks necessary to produce a successful Kindred gathering are just too much for one person to handle. You should not be shy about asking for help from the members of the Kindred. In fact, many are looking for ways that they can help all you need do is ask. I know some kindreds who are very fortunate to have members quite willing to act as chairmen of the various committees necessary for successful Kindred management and functions.

Another important step for the Kindred as it grows, is to decide to incorporate in their state as a non-profit church, and eventually apply to the IRS for 501 (c) non-profit status. This will require for the membership of the Kindred to elect three officers to serve on the Board of Directors of the corporation. The requirements for incorporation vary from one state to the next, but basically the steps are: elect a president, vice-president, and secretary/treasurer and draw up a Constitution for the church/Kindred, and a set of By Laws. Other states may require credentials from the "National Church" granting so-and-so Kindred official recognition. This of course can be handled by the office of the Secretary/Treasurer of the Asatru Alliance. A simple request to the Secretary is all that is necessary to grant credentials.

Some states require that the Constitution, By Laws, and Articles of Incorporation be published in the legal ad section of a newspaper. Of course this takes money. When the Arizona Kindred incorporated ten years ago in Arizona, it cost us about $650.00 for all the fees, which included publishing our incorporation papers in the local newspaper three times. Then there are the incorporation fees themselves, which can run anywhere from $75.00 to $150.00 for non-profits, and some may have to seek legal help as well. So, it is obvious that this will take a major commitment from the Kindred, but those Kindred leaders out there who recognize the great importance of legitimizing Asatru know that it is worth the effort.

Once this is accomplished, and when your Kindred is serious about obtaining money and property, then it is time to file with the IRS for your non-profit status. You will find when you first go down to your local bank and want to open a checking account for the Kindred, that the bank will require you to supply them with what they call an EIN number. This is an Employer's Identification Number. It is the equivalent of a Social Security number, except for an organization. This of course allows the IRS to keep complete tabs on all people and organizations that use banking services. It is very important for the IRS to keep their super computers busy compiling data bases on everyone and everything.

Now, there is a gray area in the way that the IRS looks at non-profit churches. If your Kindred is only taking in and paying out a couple of thousand dollars a year, they do not pay much attention to you and leave you completely alone. It is when you reach the level where you are taking in over $5,000 per year that you must look for the 501 (C) status. Of course your Kindred may cruise along forever and not take in very much money, but what if you decided to acquire property, build a Hof or activity center? What if someone passes over the Bifrost Bridge and leaves the Kindred a nice sum in their Will? Or maybe a rich philanthropist comes along and likes what you are doing and donates $100,000 to the Kindred, then what are you going to do? Well, if you are not incorporated and have not received your EIN number, you can not accept the donation without having to pay taxes on it. And the person making the donation can't use it as a tax deduction. So, chances are, that they may go elsewhere to relieve themselves of their money or property. If your Kindred has completed the first two steps of incorporation and obtaining an EIN number, you could probably accept a large donation, but would be required by the IRS to immediately request for 501 (c) recognition.

So what is required of the Kindred to obtain 501 (c) status? First of all, the IRS requires for you to pay them $500 for the filing fee. You then have to meet their criteria of just what a church is. You also have to provide them with some type of Financial Report of just what kind of money the Kindred holds, where it came from, and where it went, so they can again see if it fits their criteria as a church. It's really not as hard to do all of this as it may sound. Other Kindreds have already completed all three steps, and they would be glad to advise anyone who is seeking information on how to proceed.

I must stress at this time, that the structure of the Asatru Alliance is nothing more than a confederation of independent Kindreds. The Alliance is not an organization. We do not have a Board of Directors, a membership list, or do we charge dues. So the Alliance itself is not incorporated. The true strength of the Alliance lies in the number of Kindreds that it has who have accomplished the three steps of legitimacy outlined above. Of course we stress this point in our By Laws where we urge Kindreds to incorporate.(Editorial note since the writing of this article the Asatru Alliance has become a 501(c) 3 corporation).

Asatru is poised on the threshold of tremendous growth. The infrastructure for the future must be in place first. I urge all Kindreds to proceed with the three steps as soon as they are able.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Bernard King - Meanings Of The Runes
Reeves Hall - Asatru In Brief
Charles Haanel - The Master Key System
Cypress Knee - Delving Into The Faery Kindreds
Michael Smith - Ways Of The Asatru