Turtle Talk: Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel

A Quick Update on our 501(c)(3) Application Journey…

We get asked all the time if the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization.

The short answer is no, not yet.

The longer answer is that the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles is an incorporated nonprofit organization in the State of Florida and we are working on our application to the IRS to become a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization. The organization is on track to turn in the application in October of 2015.

Well, with your continued support that is!

We’ve been working diligently since February 2015 on the process and we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, there is a short EZ application we could have used but as a new organization starting from scratch the founding Board of Directors decided it was in the organization’s best interest to complete the longer application to help build a strong foundation for the organization to grow from in the future.

In February, we voted in a founding Board of Directors which has met monthly to conduct the business of the organization. We’ve developed a solid mission statement to reflect what we do and to guide us in all we do in the future.

Our mission is to promote sea turtle conservation through awareness and education.

We developed and implemented awareness and educational programming that further the organization’s mission and continue to develop for the future.

A few of the awareness programs we are currently conducting include: putting sea turtle awareness materials in rentals and hotels, hosting monthly trash bash beach clean ups, social media campaigns and creating placemats and activity booklets for businesses to give out.

We held or participated in at least one educational program or attended an event each month between April to August including Earth Day, World Turtle Day and the Every Hero has a Story summer reading program at the library, just to name a few.

We’ve also created our website and social media presence to further the organization’s mission.

Have you seen them? Do you follow us already?

Our website, www.friendsofswturtles.org, has a section for sea turtle educational resources that we update and a section that lists where you can find our awareness materials locally. We also have our regular Turtle Talk Blog posts to share sea turtle education information and increase awareness. Turtle Talk also occasionally includes posts like this one to update our friends on what’s going on within our organization’s management.

On our Facebook page, we regularly share information about our organization, events and programs, as well as sea turtle related facts and images from our organization and other likeminded environmental organizations.

Our Instagram and Twitter accounts regularly share sea turtle awareness and education information as well.

Our Pinterest account is a little different in that it is more of a storage board for our education and awareness information versus our other social media accounts which are updated several times a week. However,we know some people really enjoy Pinterest and we didn’t want to miss out on this easy way to disseminate sea turtle information.

We’ve also created and started distributing a digital newsletter, Dig It!, that shares not only what is going on with the organization but also educational information about sea turtles. If you haven’t already signed up for it you can do so here.

We’ve conducted a few fundraisers to help cover the cost of our sea turtle awareness and educational materials as well as cover our startup costs such as incorporation fees, website, mailbox, newsletter and IRS 501 (c)(3) filing fees just to name a few.

This brings us to that long awaited light at the end of the tunnel!

There are two of our last few steps that we need your help with.

We’ve developed our Bylaws and have posted the draft online for the public to see. We’ll be voting on them just before the beginning of the Trash Bash on September 26th.

We’ll also be having elections at the same time for the new 2015-2016 board year which starts Oct. 1. If you’re interested in serving on the Governing Board of the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles please let us know by emailing us or filling out our online Volunteer Form.

After the Trash Bash, the new Governing Board will have a couple more steps like updating the officers and articles of incorporation with the State of Florida and creating an operating budget.

Then our wonderful Startup Committee can update the c3 application and send it off to the IRS finally!

Then we will stalk our mailbox while we wait for an answer. We will of course share the news with you as soon as we hear! Who knows we may even have a party to celebrate.

Well, at the very least, we will have another Trash Bash for sure!

We hope you’ll come to the upcoming Trash Bash being held from 7:30 to 9 am on Sept. 26th to help keep the beaches safe for sea turtles. As a bonus, you’ll also be helping push the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles closer to finishing a last few steps to becoming a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit organization by participating in these important votes!

(Be sure to check our website &/or social media accounts before heading out to the Trash Bash events. If the event has to be cancelled due to weather or some other unforeseen circumstance we will announce it as we had to in August.  Voting, however, will still take place on Sept. 26th – just at 11am at the Bay restaurant instead of at the Trash Bash.  If you’d rather receive an email on the morning of, send us a message via email or FB so we know how to reach you.)