Many of you already know I am in the process of pursuing opening up a therapeutic riding facility under the guidelines of NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) . It's been a life long dream for me. I had always planned it as a "someday" venture, but now I have the right property, (of which I am in full ownership of, so no mortgage complications) I am located where such a facility is desperately needed, I have the right horses to pursue this, and I've decided the "someday" has no good reason to be put off any longer.
I'm still very much in the planning stages, but I've made the right connections with the right people, to get this off the ground. In my prior daydreams, I had always just assumed this to be a non profit endeavor, but now that it has come to putting pen to paper, I find a lot of people are advising me to avoid the 501(c). Everyone says to avoid the hassle, the headaches, the paperwork and the fundraising. I find it hard to pinpoint a precise answer out of those advising me against it, but when they ask me to pinpoint why I would want to be 501(c) I also cannot give a good answer other than, it just seems right, seems like the way it should be? Which is obviously not good enough. I know some of the pros to having a non profit....
That 501(c)(3) status makes a big difference in the main grant I would be hoping for
I would then be exempt from federal income tax (though not from filing)
I would be able to provide charitable donation tax deduction to donors of the program
But what I am unclear on, I guess, is what is defined under 501(c) - earnings not able to benefit individuals, but must all be retained for self preservation, expansion and future plans of the program. Obviously I would want the program to be able to pay for itself, to pay for care of the horses involved, and maintenance of the facility, etc, but I'd also need to be able to make at least a manageable living off of it for myself and my son, and I am assuming that part of it waivers outside the guidelines. So maybe the better choice is to NOT go in terms of non profit...but to me it feels wrong somehow?