Becoming a Trips for Kids® chapter is simple. We first sign a cost-free trademark agreement, which allows you to use our name and our logo as long as you adhere to our mission statement. We understand that the way you run your program is based on the needs of your community and resources that you have access to. Our main goal is to get kids out on bikes and to give them a positive experience. There are three main steps:
Trips for Kids is a non-profit that provides mountain bike outings and environmental education for kids who would not otherwise be exposed to such activities. At our outings, we teach lessons in personal responsibility, achievement and environmental awareness through the simple act of having fun.
Before we can sign the Trademark Agreement with you, you will need to send us the following information. We then submit these items to the Trips for Kids board of directors for approval.
The following are additional requirements for those who are developing Trips for Kids chapters as programs of other organizations (i.e., the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs).
When we receive all of the above items we will sign the trademark agreement with you. We have found that the two biggest challenges/concerns about starting your own organization involve getting non-profit status and insurance. Keep in mind that our job here at Trips for Kids is to help you get over these obstacles and answer any questions that you might have. It's best to work on these items in the order in which they are listed above.
Applying for Non-profit Status
To obtain non-profit status with the IRS you first need to incorporate. The process of incorporation differs from state to state. For example, some states require that you get your Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS before incorporating (which can be done easily on-line). Other states allow you to incorporate and then apply for your EIN. In any event, after you are established as a corporation in your state, you can apply to the federal government for non-profit, 501(c)3, status.
The following describes the basic steps to forming a non-profit organization and obtaining tax exempt status. (For more detailed information, check out the Nolo Press book How to Form a Non-Profit Corporation, by Anthony Mancuso. Good on-line resources include About.com's How to Start a Non-Profit and the Internet Nonprofit Center.)
Affiliating with an Existing Organization
You may want to consider finding an existing organization (i.e., YMCA, Boy's and Girls Club) to "sponsor" your program. The sponsoring organization will sign the trademark agreement and will need to provide proof of adequate insurance (including Trips for Kids as an added insured on their policy.) This process may be faster and less expensive than forming your own non-profit, but keep in mind that Trips for Kids will be their organization, not yours.
Providing Proof of Insurance
If you are not affiliating with an existing organization that already has an insurance policy you will need to get your own liability insurance. An affordable insurance carrier is McKay Insurance Agency. Please let McKay Insurance Agency know that you are a prospective Trips for Kids chapter when you contact them for more information.
Note: McKay Insurance Agency offers liability insurance only. This is the minimum that Trips for Kids requires. It is your responsibility to make sure that the policy works for you and your organization. While the policy might be fine for a first year program, moving forward you may want to consider property, directors and officers and sexual molestation insurance, in addition to the liability coverage.
You may also check out ANI-RRG (the Alliance of Nonprofit for Insurance, Risk Retention Group) which operates in 25 states. They offer more complete coverage and Trips for Kids Marin has been using them for years, finding their prices to be excellent. They also provide valuable tips to help avoid insurance claims and even give dividends to their clients in years when claims are low.
Regardless of which firm you insure with, we require at least a $1 million liability policy. Furthermore, we require that you list Trips for Kids as an additional insured on your policy. Please have your insurance company send us an additional insured certificate with our organization listed as follows:
Trips for Kids
Finally, as you plan your programs, remember that as a Trips for Kids chapter you should at a minimum provide the following services: mountain bike outings and/or environmental educational activities. If you plan to offer any other sports activities, you will need to check with your insurance provider to make sure those activities are covered by your liability policy. We urge you to ensure that you have sufficient liability for any and all activities that you offer to children and the public, and we require that all Trips for Kids activities are conducted with adequate coverage.
If you have any questions at all, please contact us. We are happy to work with you on a case by case basis to ensure that your program meets the needs of your community.
What an awesome experience! Need I say more! It's like these kids re-live Christmas over and over.
– Steve Sharp, TFK SORBA volunteer