Sponsors, Donors, Insurance and IRS for Special Events...oh my.
Getting insurance and sponsors are two uniquely different and huge topics when planning a charity event. The Veterans Art and Farm Therapy charity uses Stargazer Stables, our 70 acre horse farm as its headquarters. In order to make the charity more recognizable to the public, disabled veterans, and the media, we are hosting a Farm Mud Run event at the farm. This event should promote the charity as well as provide funds to activate programs designed for disabled veterans and their families.
First topic of discussion is insurance. Because the farm hosting the Farm Mud Run belongs to my husband and myself, I’m a big fan of not ‘losing the farm’ due to an accidental trip by a participant. Our homeowners general policy through USAA indicated that the Farm Mud Run was covered. But for some reason, we couldn’t get that in writing. 2 months of planning went by. Nothing in writing. After several long phone calls and several transfers to "please hold" numbers, we find out our agent no longer worked with USAA.
Back to basics. I went on an internet hunt and found out about special event insurance. I was quoted $300 for the one day event. The General Liability Limits was 1,000,000 per occurrence and 2,000,000 aggregate. There was a $5,000 limit for medical payments. Then, I read the policy more carefully. Even though I applied for Special Event Insurance and told them we were hosting a Farm Mud Run, the fine print exclusion did not include “athletic participants” only spectators. WOW. What a scam. OUCH.
Back to the internet. I researched forums including the words “Athletic Participate Exclusion.“ The actual insurance needed is Athletic Participate Insurance, which costs at minimal $4.00 per participate. All of it must be paid up front before we even have taken in any tickets. This is a big expense for a grassroots nonprofit such as Veterans Art and Farm Therapy. It was also advised to get one for medical. Of course, the forums are written by insurance agents, but they are the ones that will rebuke anything that is not tightly documented, so I guess they know their business. I am still working with insurance companies to get this all figured out. Good Luck all you charities!
The second concept that needs to be addressed is sponsors verses donors and the IRS. Sponsors hope to make more customers, donors primary do not. Both can, but are not always tax deductible. Sponsors are usually larger, more selective, and want to know what they gain by giving. The IRS viewpoint concerns advertising issues is that product demonstrations, banners, flags, and logos around the charity event are not considered advertising. But if discounts or deals are mentioned on the banners, flags or other items then it is considered advertising and becomes taxable as part of the companies advertising budget. Fun stuff right?
Organizing the Farm Mud Run has become another job. I have written at least 45 donor and sponsor letters and 15 grants during my planning block, after school, on snow days, and late into the night. There is a lot of groundwork to making a charity noticeable and functional. And a big part of that is creating events that solicit public support. The Farm Mud Run family festival is a great way to bring the community together and raise awareness about alternative therapeutic activities for disabled veterans and their families.
On April 29, 2017 we will all go slosh through 5K worth of mud and fun. Wish us luck!