How to create a non-profit organization in Washington State

For those interested in creating a non-profit organization, the following list lays out how we did our organization in 2005, which you can use in conjunction with any other information you get from others to figure out your own style.
Pre-1. Everything else rests on this. The name you choose must be researched. It must be an original and not a close copy of another organization’s or business’ name, word, phrase or logo. Do a copyright search and document/keep your findings.
1. Business license – Olympia
2. Decide if you want to be For-Profit or Non-Profit
3. Choose a name and any DBA (doing business as) names
4. Choose what type of corporation you want to be (we are an S-Corporation)
5. Choose how many board members you want (we have 3-9)
6. Decide if you are a doing org. or a mentoring org.
7. How will you get your money to operate and meet your mission?
8. Do you want a membership organization?
9. Choose a simple Purpose (we chose: relief, product, distribution and consultation). The purpose is unchangeable so make it simple and broad.
10. Choose a beginning Mission Statement that fits within the Purpose.
The board can change or refine the Mission Statement within the Purpose parameters.
11. Go online to the Washington Bar Association and choose a format that fits your needs. You will need: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Conflict of Interest Statement.
12. Choose your Incorporating Board (we had 3 people)
13. Have an Incorporating Board meeting and take minutes. Have each member sign the minutes. At the meeting also have all the Incorporators sign the Articles of Incorporation.
NOTE: the Purpose and the Articles of Incorporation are not changeable!!!!!!! If you mess up, you can dissolve the corporation and start over…I had to do that twice😀.
14. Take the completed and signed original and a copy of the original signed Articles of Incorporation to the Washington Secretary of State in Olympia and get it registered. You keep the original and give them the copy. Show them the original but you keep it.
15. While at the Secretary of State (SOS), ask to speak with the Charities Division and get registered with them. This is very important.
16. Get a map from the SOS so you can find your way around Olympia.
17. Go to the Department of Revenue in Olympia. Introduce yourself and your Organization.
Ask if there is anything you need to do at that office.
18. Go to Labor and Industries in Olympia. Ask if there is anything you need to do there.
19. Choose your Initial board members and set up a meeting time.
20. Make a tight agenda and make sure it is followed and everything is recorded correctly during this Initial Board meeting. Make sure to have the Bylaws and Conflict of Interest statement filled in and ready to be presented, edited and approved. If you have a Logo, present it for board approval. From here on out, you are no longer a single person on a mission, you are a body of people making decisions together. For ease of business flow, you might want a Quorum to be 50%. also, you might add a bylaw that board business, including voting, can be done using technology. (We amended our bylaws to be 50% and accepted technology. It is so much easier since we are not in one location. If the Organization has to pay to bring the members together for decision making meetings, it can be very expensive and time consuming which delays meeting your mission.) Also, choose if you want monthly meetings and if so, choose when and where.
Choose a bank or Credit Union at this first meeting. Put some thought into it. You will also choose the first year positions at this meeting: president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. The Secretary and President cannot be the same person. The board needs to agree to go ahead and file for Federal 501(c )(3) status. It’s best to follow parliamentary rules of order or something everyone can agree on in order to keep meetings short and to the point.
21. File for Logo trademark through the Washington Secretary of State office. (This is optional. It is what we did.)
22. Download and fill out all the required paperwork for the Federal 501(c)(3) status.
23. Contact an Accountant to review the paperwork before sending to IRS.
24. Be sure to keep copies of everything. Originals, if possible.
25. As a board, decide on 3-5 Core Values that make up your org. Keep them short.
Example: Every situation will be different – value that community
Example: Honor the next generation

Best wishes,
-Eunice

Looming Shocks – Part 3: theft of Indigenous land underlies our shock-susceptible racial hierarchies

Referring to increasing “right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” Naomi Klein says the following in her recent article:

“The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out …deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and ‘bad hombres,’ and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, … or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a ‘humanitarian’ alternative to death at sea.

This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories …all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.”

Klein alludes to a connection, here, that is noticeably absent from most conversations about current violence, racism and dehumanization: the connection between ongoing military occupations of stolen Indigenous land and the violence and racism that surfaces in various ways in Canada and the United States of America.

Folks often act shocked or surprised by present-day manifestations of violence and racism here in North America, yet our Settler nation-states were founded on white supremacist notions of terra nullius and the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, casting Indigenous people as sub-human in order to justify our own settlement and occupation of the land.

Canada and the USA, as Settler-colonial states, are houses actively haunted by the ghosts of colonial treachery, and are currently occupied by the descendant beneficiaries of that violence. Why then, do we think we are not going to be affected when we refuse to pay attention to that history and refuse to presently return stolen land to the Indigenous people who continue to exist?

I think the answer is this: it is inconvenient and uncomfortable and would require each of us to give up things we think we own.  That’s no fun, so we figure we’re better off feigning confusion or surprise every time the white supremacist foundations of our land ownership rear their heads again and again in the form of racially charged violence.

As long as we, as Settlers, remain committed to ignoring the ongoing military occupation of Indigenous land in Canada and the USA, our attitudes and hearts likely will not undergo the necessary transformation toward respecting the dignity of all people.

Klein describes the work of righting past wrongs and repairing our relationships with one another as “work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.”

-Bjorn

Looming shocks – Part 2: two disasters, the direct and the imposed

As described in a recent Naomi Klein article, disaster are not only disasters because of the immediate havoc and destruction they wreak, but also because of the strategic opportunity they provide for well-prepared people in positions of power to force undemocratic policy changes on a population during the disaster’s ensuing state of shock.

These two dimensions of disaster – the primary or direct disaster and the auxiliary or imposed disaster – may be similar in the disastrousness of their felt effects, but they differ in our ability to anticipate them. The imposed disaster that comes from opportunistic policies shoved through in a time of population-wide shock are now possible to anticipate with fairly high certainty.

Naomi Klein has documented the pattern extensively in her book “The Shock Doctrine,” and the favorite policies of the wealthy and powerful are eye-rollingly predictable and even clichéd: privatizing education and infrastructure, imposing states of emergency to supersede democratic processes, and austerity measures to curtail public spending and cut corporate taxes. So this stuff should be even easier to ‘disaster-plan’ for than storing supplies, practicing emergency drills and scenario-planning for weather events that happen at relatively random intervals and locations.  How could communities be ‘disaster-planning’ more strategically for the imposed/auxiliary disasters that regularly follow in the wake of primary/direct disaster?

To me, it is preparation for the onslaught against community autonomy when faced with a catastrophic disaster that prompts our fore fronting of survivor-driven community recovery.

My next post will discuss the same article’s connection between colonial violence/land theft and the violence of current racial hierarchies.

-Bjorn

Looming shocks – Part 1: two-tiered disaster relief

The June 10th 2017 Naomi Klein article that I introduced in the previous post articulates a noteworthy trend in disaster response. The powerful believe it is in their interest to create a two-tiered system for disaster relief. The wealthy who can afford it become members of private clubs that offer services of helicopter-extracting members from the chaos of disaster, leaving less motivation on the part of those with all the pesos to support broadly accessible publicly funded mechanisms to protect and assist populations in crisis.

In California, private firefighters are dispatched with protective fire retardant to the wildfire-threatened homes of the wealthy. The result is a palpable devaluing of the lives of those who are not wealthy. Naomi Klein says, “a significant cohort of our elites are walling themselves off not just physically but also psychologically, mentally detaching themselves from the collective fate of the rest of humanity.”

Walling themselves off from the masses, however, also means potentially walling themselves out of the type of connected and thriving community necessary for true resilience in disaster. Neighbors and community members respond first through efficient relational networks. There’s no price on that, nor should there be. Living relationally – in a community – is a wholly different paradigm of existence where supporting fellow people can matter more than achieving personal comfort and perceived financial certainty.

My next post will discuss this same article in relation to the existence of two faces of a disaster:  an initial direct disaster as well as an auxiliary imposed disaster that is experienced when the former is used as a shock opportunity to advance an agenda.

-Bjorn

Looming shocks – article introduction

An article published yesterday by “Shock Doctrine” and “This Changes Everything” author Naomi Klein cautions about the various looming opportunistic and predatory policy implementations that are likely to be coming from Mr. Trump and other corporate and political elites as various disasters and system shocks inevitably arise.  I intend to highlight a few important insights made in the article over the course of a series of three blog posts in the coming days, but will begin by linking to the full article. My next blog post will discuss this article’s concern about two-tiered disaster relief.

THE WORST OF DONALD TRUMP’S TOXIC AGENDA IS LYING IN WAIT – A MAJOR U.S. CRISIS WILL UNLEASH IT – by Naomi Klein (published June 10th, 2017 in The Intercept)

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Three Word Address

What do you think of this system that has now been adopted in some regions? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38262877 The three word system for precisely identifying every 3m by 3m location in the world seems like it could have some advantages particularly in disaster situations where the infrastructure of any former address system based on road names will like be destroyed, hampering attempts at a quick response. It also seems like the system is still heavily technology-dependent. In the context of broken infrastructure post-disaster it would potentially give an advantage to outsiders over locals in assuming authority for action if the outsiders where the only ones with working GPS devices to locate exact addresses. What might be other implications, positive or negative, for survivors of a catastrophic disaster in a region using this three word address system?

Bjorn

Aid to Haiti masking active foreign military occupation?

This article, reprinted from Counterpunch, ends with this:

the lesson of the 2010 earthquake is that aid and reconstruction must be directed by Haitians and for Haitians. Otherwise, this latest disaster will only aggravate the long disaster of big-power intervention into the country. That, not inevitable storms and seismic events, is the largest obstacle facing Haiti in its struggle for development and sovereignty.” 

Putting survivors of a disaster event in the drivers seat of the recovery effort is not really a very radical idea. Any of us would expect to be allowed that courtesy by others when experiencing the vulnerability of recovering from such devastation. But it seems to be far from the current practice when opportunists use tragic events as open doors for advancing particular agendas.

-Bjorn

On disaster pornography

On page 246 of this 1994 article by Erica Burman there is a discussion of the concept of Disaster Pornography which is “the gruesome fascination with depicting, and commercially benefiting from people’s suffering and degradation.” The ‘pornography’ parallel is as follows: “bodies are represented as parts, devoid of subjectivity, and rendered available for use and consumption, with no regard for consent or participation.” In trying to understand fundamental principles that are important for an appropriate, just and dignifying approach in disaster response efforts, we keep coming back to the importance of putting survivors first and allowing space for survivors to lead in the recovery effort. This concept of disaster pornography points in a vivid way to the absolute necessity for survivor-driven recovery, which includes allowing survivors to make decisions around how the disaster itself is depicted in media and in aid organizations’ calls for funding of relief efforts.

Burman, Erica, (1994) “Innocents abroad: Western fantasies of childhood and the iconography of emergencies” from Disasters 18 (3) pp.238-253

http://core.roehampton.ac.uk/repository2/content2/subs/d.steedman/d.steedman1882/Burman%20(1994)%20Innocents%20abroad.pdf

-Bjorn