2005 National Conference

2005 US Conference / San Francisco
This conference focused very much on fundraising and community outreach strategies, with several guest speakers and a lot of information.
Ms. Eileen Sugai, Program Director for the Japan Society in San Francisco, spoke about fundraising and outreach, giving examples from her work over the years.
Professor Jennifer Amyx, who was at the University of Pennsylvania, but was spending time at Stanford University’s Asia Pacific Research Center at that time, spoke on “US-Japan Relations in the Context of a Rising China”. She had been a JET in Fukuoka in ’91 and ’92, and built on this experience in developing her career.
Ms. Mari Ellen Reynolds, Director of Development for the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, spoke about “Effective Fundraising for Chapters of All Sizes”. Two points of great interest in her talk were her contention that an organization does not need 501(c)(3) status to effectively raise money, and her explanation of how smaller organizations can use a fiscal agent to handle larger donations and avoid the need to seek tax exempt status themselves. She said that most donors probably wouldn’t bother to deduct donations up to $50.00, anyway, and that despite IRS rules requiring a letter from a 501(c)(3) organization to receive a deduction for donations of $250.00 or more, based on her experience, many people and organizations are still willing to donate larger amounts even without that incentive. The key, she said, is to be passionate about your cause. Copious amounts of alcohol served at events can be helpful, too. There was some discussion about fiscal agents, and of possibly establishing a national umbrella organization that could gain tax exempt status and then disburse funds to its chapters around the country, but no conclusions were reached as to the feasibility or desirability of this. No clear distinction was made, either, between any possible national alumni organization and a separate fiscal agent that would simply handle fundraising issues for individual chapters.
The Grant-in-aid session at this conference produced an enormous amount of questions regarding funding mechanisms and how to apply to both CLAIR and MOFA. There were many requests for some kind of detailed handbook on what funding is available, what expenses qualify for Japanese government funding, and how to actually fill out each of the forms.
The two country reps spoke about their work over the year. Michael Barrett talked about the Kintetsu Essay Contest he had been overseeing since the previous year, and Jeff Huffman talked about the US logo design effort, his review of the Country Rep’s roles & responsibilities and eligibility requirements, and the idea of eliminating the requirement that anyone running for Country Rep must be a chapter officer.
Jennifer Olayon and Tony McCormac spoke about the New York chapter’s ongoing effort to achieve 501(c)(3) status. They explained that out of the several types of tax exempt status available, two of the most common were 501(c)(7), for social clubs, and 501(c)(3) for groups focusing on community relations. Each has slightly different requirements and conditions, but the latter is generally considered more appropriate for JETAA chapters. Among the many complex issues involved were the potential for being found liable for unpaid taxes in previous years, the tax status of money received from the Japanese government, the need to create a board of directors, and the need to hold meetings and conduct voting in accordance with state laws.

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