• Private organizations must get post's approval

  • Currently, there are 18 private organizations on post.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The Fort Leavenworth Spouses Club. The Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop. The Friends of the Frontier Army Museum. The Fort Leavenworth Investment Club.
    At first glance, these organizations don’t have much in common, but upon further examination they do have one important thing in common — they are all Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-approved private organizations.
    “The purpose of a private organization and the Department of the Army’s concept to support such organizations is to provide a vehicle and limited support for which persons within the military family can share common interests,” according to the Administrative Procedures for Private Organizations handbook. “POs are authorized appropriated and non-appropriated fund support on a reimbursable, limited and non-reoccurring basis. Examples of such support may include equipment, transportation, printing and copying services, use of FMWR or excess facilities, audio/visual items and personnel.”
    Currently, there are 18 private organizations on post.
    “The main reason that people become private organizations is because only units and approved private organizations can do fundraising on the installation,” said Glenn Hewitt, FMWR director.
    Hewitt said upon inspection with the inspector general he found that post residents don’t know what a private organization is or how to become a private organization. There are also some groups that are operating like a private organization but don’t have the proper paperwork.
    “They don’t understand,” Hewitt said. “That’s where we help educate them on the requirements, so that whenever we do a submission, we’ve got everything right and it doesn’t come back and forth.”
    To become a private organization, a group must request an operating permit accompanied with a signed and dated constitution and bylaws, membership statistics — at least 51 percent of members must be in the military family — and a current list of officers (president, vice president, secretary, etc.) with addresses, phone numbers, and e-mails if available.
    “The hardest part is to write your constitution and bylaws and basically state your mission, why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re doing it,” Hewitt said. “But Stacy Justus, (administrative support and operations assistant to the FMWR director) has really made it easy. There is a sample guide to prepare a constitution, and really, they just have to fill in the blanks in that. Then, there is a standard guide for preparation of bylaws.”
    Once all criteria are met and turned in, it is sent to the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for legal review and is either approved or disapproved by the FMWR Directorate pending legal opinion.
    Page 2 of 2 - Once a private organization has been approved, revalidation must happen every two years.
    “It is quicker (to revalidate) because they already have a constitution and bylaws established,” Hewitt said. “It is really easy just to make any changes.”
    However, certain things must be reported immediately, Hewitt said, including any changes in board members or club officers, and minutes of all meetings must be turned in.
    “There are sample letters of the requests for validation, there are sample letters for operating, and there are samples for the minutes they have to provide,” he said.
    POs must also keep financial records and turn in an annual financial statement and audit. This includes records of fundraisers conducted throughout the year. POs are allowed to have up to four fundraisers annually.
    “They have to have insurance because there are some liabilities that are involved, both property and money,” Hewitt said. “They have to be bonded if they handle money, and there are criteria in the handbook. They also have to file taxes, and a lot of them become a 501(c)(3).”
    The handbook provides more details for insurance, tax and audit requirements. The handbook also goes into specifics about advertisement options and fundraising. For more information about private organizations and the requirements, call Justus at 684-1669 or Hewitt at 684-1666.
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