I am new to the site and have been reading the post. I read a couple of post where pilots were scammed by rescue groups that were not 501c. I was wondering why Pilots n Paws does not start a section on the site that list official 501c groups along with a list of non 501c that would make it easier for pilots to check for legitimate organizations. TC
Good question and one that pilots really would have no knowledge about unless they were also involved in hands on rescue animal work. Having been on this side of rescue work for numerous years, including a founding member of a 501c3 Doberman rescue group, and also as the Co-founder of PNP, another 501c3 group, hopefully I can share some useful information.
A 501c3 tax status simply means that you are a non-profit who is able to utilize certain tax deductions. You start with applying for your non-profit status and getting your tax ID number. You then complete a very LONG questionnaire to apply for 501c3 status and pay a fairly high fee for the application. If you have completed all the questions in an appropriate manner and included all documents needed, such as your Articles of Incorporation, etc., then more then likely you will qualify. Every question has to be answered to the letter. More likely then not, you will be approved if all the paperwork is in order. No one comes to your property to investigate, no one calls you and asks pertinent questions, it is all done via paperwork. Your tax work at the end of the year also needs to show that you held true to your mission. You can also search for 501c3 groups at http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0, ... 36,00.html
Just make certain you know the actual name the group is listed under. We have our tax status and link listed here on the forum board because our 501c3 is listed as Www pilotsnpaws.org, Inc , not Pilots N Paws. It has to match your tax ID.
Does a 501c3 status make you a "good" rescue group because you have the classification? Hopefully but not necessarily. There are many good rescue groups out there who do not have the financial means to apply for this status. You may ask, well if they cannot afford to apply then how can they help the animals? Many spend every dime to help the animals with vet work, etc. They often save for years to apply for the 501c3 status though it though because they realize that others feel this makes them more legitimate. Therein lies the conundrum.
My best advice to pilots would be to ask questions and more questions. If the answers seem right to you, then go forward with helping the group. Ask for a vet reference to call. If the rescue has nothing to hide they will share this with you.
We can certainly add the question to the transport board form asking if the group requesting for a flight is a 501c3. This would be the most efficient way for pilots to see the answer. It is important to note that this isn't the only criteria people should use to help others and animals in need. As always, it is totally up to pilots. Some will only fly for groups with this status which is their decision and one I respect.
I would not consider helping groups that are not 501c3's as being scammed, that is simply not factual. Will there be people on the forum board who misrepresent themselves? Sure, that is the way it is in all walks of life. Remember we often help military dogs and their owners as well so they certainly do not have the tax status you are looking for. Nor do the owners who's animals were stolen and found three states away. Again, each pilot has the choice of who to assist and who they would rather not make the flight.
Tax deduction wise, pilots can always use Pilots N Paws 501c3 status. Just make sure the request is posted to the forum board and replied to there as well. Then print it out so you will have a record of it.
We depend on people's integrity and honesty to help the thousands of animals out there who need us. Hope this information gives you a little more insight. Thank you very much for joining Pilots N Paws and making a difference with your flights!