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Supporting a Skater

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by MountainTime, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. MountainTime

    MountainTime Member

    Its that time of year again when I mention the cost of sending a skater to Nationals. Fundraisers are few and far between so some parents are struggling, especially in this economy, to keep their child on the ice. Last year one mother had to borrow several thousand dollars so her son could make it to Spokane for the week.
    Did you know the coach gets paid for the entire time they are at Nationals? Meals, hotels, dress clothes for the after functions all add up quickly. Sometimes there's practice ice at another rink, transportation and other expenses.
    I am not suggesting you need to sponsor a skater with big bucks. Picking up a meal or leaving an envelope at the hotel front desk with a bit of cash goes a long way to helping a family. Instead of buying a stuffie to throw on the ice the same amount of money covers a breakfast. Souvenirs make great memories so purchase two t-shirts and give one to your favorite skater so the parents can save a little there.
    Your skater will be so grateful and you'll feel good too.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  2. judiz

    judiz Well-Known Member

    Many skaters are registered with the New England Amateur Skating Foundation (NEASF). The NEASF is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to assist competitive amateur skaters. All regional, sectional, national and international skaters are eligible for assistance.

    Donations are received from both individuals and corporations. The monies collected are then used to defray skating-related expenses such as ice time, lessons, costumes, equipment, competition fees, strength training, ballet, off-ice classes and travel expenses.

    The skater must submit a bill or bills signed by the skater as well as the head coach. If the skater is under 18 years of age, the bills must be signed by a parent and the head coach. Payment is made directly to the vendor or provider of the services.

    New England Amateur Skating Foundation
    P.O. BOX 6881
    Providence, RI. 02940
  3. Sylvia

    Sylvia Prepping for club comp. season!

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  4. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    Agree on donating to NEASF. No need to possibly get the skater in trouble with eligibility issues.

    As for other ways to help, there are no rules preventing someone from defraying the travel expenses of the parent or guardian. If you know someone who needs the help, you can slip them a few bucks.

    There was someone at SCoB many, many years ago who used to buy ice time. Skaters would get their schedules and they'd be marked paid. Not sure if that violated any rules or not.
  5. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

    My bold. This is true :eek: ? Families have to pay for the coaches dress clothes for the after functions? :eek:
  6. Sylvia

    Sylvia Prepping for club comp. season!

    No, that's the start of a a new sentence and pertains to the skater.
  7. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

    Oops. Sorry. :duh: I should read more carefully :lol:
  8. azskatefan

    azskatefan New Member

    I highly doubt that any type of private (and often anonymous) donations violate any eligibility, as it's not like basketball, swimming or softball where the athletes go on to compete in the NCAA level. If a skater is accepting money to perform, appear, etc., it does but buying someone's ice time or picking up grandma's chicken fingers is generally fine.
  9. Sugar64

    Sugar64 Member

    Thank you for the reminder. I'll be donating.
  10. Tammi

    Tammi Nana

    This link talks about "sponsoring" a particular skater, http://www.usfsa.org/Athletes.asp?id=342 . I believe if you donate to them through the NEASF, it would be tax deductable for individuals. However, if you give money directly to the skater, then it's considered a gift and there wouldn't be any tax benefits. I don't think there are any limitations now in regards to what skaters can accept from sponsors (private or corporate), with the exception of show appearances. Skaters can receive money for show appearances, provided they are USFS sanctioned and they have permission from their home club. If it's not a sanctioned event, then there are certain steps they need to take to protect their eligibility.
    LynnW and (deleted member) like this.
  11. vexlak

    vexlak Member

    i stumbled upon this old posting. What interested me is the function of the New England Amateur Skating Foundation. Great concept if it really works. Has anyone work with them? The way I understand is that you donate your $$ to the fund with name of the desired skater. The fund will then pay expenses as needed. Skater/coach would have to submit signed invoices to control the cost. Sounds reasonable, especially when the donor can deduct the expenses. What I do not understand is the lack of transparency with the non profit organization. There is a PO BOX address, no official web site... Makes me think twice about donating when not knowing who is or how the funds are controlled.

    Some Goggling helped however:
    Their 2012 tax return (https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2013_07_EO/22-3018121_990_201212.pdf) showed $876 000 in donations. over $10 000 in investment income. With close to $800K payouts and grands and some small salary and office fees, there is a $61000 revenue. This was added up the existing assets totaling now the $499,000 (!).

    I am not trying to be the tax auditor, but there is a $61000 non taxable income and $499000 in assets. Is this from unused funds that skaters received? Since this is a non profit organization claiming that 100% of donated funds will go to the skater, how will they plan to disperse the assets? Maybe I am too suspicious but I am allergic to lack of transparency.

    Did any skater/coach worked with them? You cannot find any reviews or references. I hope that I am peddling water here or there is a something more to it.
  12. jenlyon60

    jenlyon60 Member

    I know several skaters who work with them. Basically skaters have "accounts" into which "targeted" donations for that skater are deposited. My understanding is that the invoice gets forwarded to them either by the coach/etc or the skater, and they pay the invoice out of that skater's "account".

    I don't know what happens if a skater stops skating--if the "account" balance rolls into a general fund or what.
  13. Simone411

    Simone411 Covfefe! FSU Uber fan!

    When I've been able to afford it, I've always donated to Friends of Figure Skating at USFSA. It's another way to donate, and it helps provide financial assistance to skaters of all levels. I'm pretty sure a lot of members here have probably donated at one time or another.
  14. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    I don't know how the NEASF gets around the IRS, but there are some serious issues with what they do. Donations to a specific person are not tax-deductible - official term is excess benefit transaction and it's an abuse of an org's non-profit status. This USFS guide for clubs spells it out on p. 10 and 22-23: http://www.usfsa.org/content/FormationofNonprofitCorp.pdf

    You can also find the info on the IRS website. When some other club board members and I attended one of USFS's club education workshops last year, the presenter hammered that point home.

    I suspect the NEASF likes to stay under the radar so as not to draw too much attention to what they are doing.

    Bottom line: if you want to support a specific skater, feel free to give them money but don't expect to claim it as a tax deduction, or give your money to a reputable org that will dispense the money legally.
  15. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    All donations are made to NEASF, not the individual skater; NEASF is the 501 c 3 org eligible to issue tax receipts.. From an IRS standpoint, designating a skater for whom expenses can be paid should be no different than any other restricted donation, like to Pacific Northwest Ballet's New Works Fund, to a new production of The Merry Widow at the Met Opera, to sponsor a specific dancer at ABT, to donate to a specific scholarship fund, all of which are tax deductible to the donor. Not only does the money not go to the skater -- NEASF pays the vendors directly for qualifying invoices submitted by the skater and signed by the skater/parent; it's not a pass-through, which would raise the IRS's hackles -- there are restrictions on the type of expenses that are paid. Some donations aren't restricted by skater.

    In general, restricted funds can't be co-mingled, although in the case of bankruptcy/dissolution, I'm not sure what would happen. In the case of NEASF, I would expect there to be various balances in restricted funds, based on timing (invoice creation and submission, money donated after the skater already paid the season's bills, etc.), a premature end to a career, etc.
  16. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    IT's my understanding that, should a skater stop skating before all the funds in the personal account are used up, then the skater (or the skater's legal guardian) has to sign off on the funds before they can be transferred into the NEASF's general account.
  17. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    Other than the sponsoring of a specific dancer, the other examples you mentioned involved general funds/projects in which the organization decides how the money is disbursed. With the NEASF's model, a parent could easily send them money, then send their kid's skating bills, and get a charitable receipt for paying their kid's skating expenses. That is wrong. I suspect the NEASF gets around it by including a standard note on its receipts by saying that the donor should consult their accountant on how their gift will be treated for tax purposes - essentially transferring responsibility to the donor. But the whole setup is shady. At the club education workshop I attended, the presenter (volunteer leader of USFS and parent of a former elite skater) referenced NEASF (not specifically by name but it was clear what he was talking about) as an example of something that clubs (or any org) shouldn't be doing.
  18. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

    We give to NEASF, we get a letter stating that our donation is tax-deductible, and if we choose not to be anonymous, we get personal thank-yous from the skater(s) we asked to support. We have given to NEASF for several years. I would not be concerned about their legality. They provide a great service.
  19. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    That's not been my experience with arts organizations, who go through a number of creative hoops to attribute expenses to specific production funds, for example.

    Obviously the IRS will look at transactions that aren't arms-length, like a parent contributing and getting something direct in return.
  20. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    Right, but funds earmarked for a production benefit everyone involved in the production, not just one person. You can't make a donation to pay a specific troupe member.
  21. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    A restricted donation is a restricted donation. It doesn't matter whether it's to sponsor a specific singer or dancer, which happens all the time -- "Ms. Diva's performance is made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Big Macher" -- or whether it is earmarked for a specific production, and all of the production money goes to hire Baryshnikov.

    The question of whether donations to an organization can be considered for tax reasons is a matter of their 501-c-3 status. They have the right to issue tax receipts. I can't remember the last receipt I've gotten that hasn't stated that the amount (net of consideration like value of tickets and swag) is deductible to the full extent of the law. An individual may or may not be able to deduct it based on a lot of factors: if the IRS deems it to be a pass-through -- a skater's parent donates and then submits receipts, or two skaters' parents do it for each other -- if charitable amounts exceed a certain amount of income, if the deductions are negated by the alternative minimum tax, etc.

    I don't see anything wrong with the NEASF being able to earmark funds for specific skaters, any more than I see anything wrong with a person sponsoring a dancer or singer or director or the violinist in the third row fourth from the left.
  22. kwanette

    kwanette Fetalized since 1998

    That has been my experience as well.I've sent money for the past few yrs, also. I always get a receipt and a thank you from the skater(s).
  23. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

    DebbieS, I dont really appreciate your casting aspersions on a group that has supported many skaters in need and allowed many fans to help skaters. Do you have some axe to grind? If NEASF stays "under the radar," it is probably because they dont have time to stay over the radar. I dont think there are any big salaries, offices, travel, etc. being paid for from these fan donations. Lots of skaters use it and most fans have no way of getting support directly to skaters. Their home addresses are not posted on their websites, if they even have websites -- NEASF often is. Unless you want to cut off that fan support, maybe you could find something better to do than attacking a worthy skater support group.
  24. Sylvia

    Sylvia Prepping for club comp. season!

    NEASF is a VERY small-scale volunteer organization. I've had contact with the woman who took over from the founder who has since died, and if anyone has specific concerns, please send me a PM. I know the skaters and their families are grateful for this service.
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
    manleywoman and (deleted member) like this.
  25. merrywidow

    merrywidow Well-Known Member

    I've donated directly to a skater(s) by sending in care of the arena/rink that they practice in. Always received a thank you & acknowledgement.
  26. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

    And I don't appreciate you attacking me personally b/c I referenced information (from USFS, IRS) that you don't want to hear. If you disagree with the info these orgs provide on how non-profits should manage their money, contact them.

    The initial question from the poster who resurrected this thread was about transparency of the NEASF and concerns he/she had about how it works. I provided info in response, as did others. I do think it's odd (and not transparent) to have only a PO Box as your contact info and the poster also raised concerns about their tax info. I know it's a small org, and there are lots of small orgs out there that do (or claim to do) good work to help people in need....some are well-run and some are not. As consumers, it's up to us to educate ourselves and look at orgs with a critical eye to see if our money is being disbursed appropriately.

    As others on this thread have mentioned, there are other orgs that support skaters. NEASF is not your only option. Questioning their fundraising and business practices does not equate to "cutting off fan support."
  27. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    The USFS document is a conservative interpretation of the law and doesn't cite any IRS rulings on similar situations, such as dancer sponsorships and similar directed contributions. I wouldn't expect anything but a conservative interpretation from them, since they have to protect the institution.

    In some of the skater's forms, they "suggest" that the donation be used for a specific skater, which would remove the org from the legal obligation to restrict those funds, and not even conflict with USFS' interpretation. The standard NEASF form's wording is "I would like this donation to be used for skating-related expenses of _________, which could also be seen as a request, without a legal obligation to restrict funding.
  28. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    I think the USFS pamphlet describes the common view -- if a donation is directed to a person through a 501(c)(3), there is a risk that the deduction could be disallowed. The NEASF is relying on the last sentence of the USFS description -- if they retain control over the funds, and they keep it even if the skater doesn't use it, these are factors that help. The more control the charity has over the funds, the better. Directed donations have become increasingly popular outside of the private foundation context. IRS definitely scruitinizes them (and some bills floated around Congress in the early 2000s). This one represents a slightly aggressive tax position because the forms say all the money will go to the skater. But since they review the skater's eligibility, and they control the payment of skating expenses, they have an argument that the donations are benefitting the organization's charitable purpose of furthering figure skating. If they turned the money over the skaters so that the skaters could buy street shoes and go on vacations, they'd draw scrutiny because this is clearly benefitting the individual and not the charitable purpose. Or if the donor got to approve the expenses. IRS has time to go after larger funds that have big investment returns that are not necessarily used for the charitable purpose. Going after 12-year olds probably isn't top of their list. This is not intended to be tax advice. Before you donate, I would consult with your own tax advisor.

    These describe the various parts of the spectrum.
    http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Donor-Advised-Funds -- where the donor remains involved.
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  29. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    Which forms? While some skaters have amended the form to be more insistent, the standard NEASF form says "I would like..." Does that commit the org in legal terms to use the money for qualified expenses for that skater only? (I'm now thinking of businesses that say x% of a transaction or profits will be donated, with an option of "Please use the donation to benefit 1. Animal shelters 2. Food banks 3... Environmental groups", etc. and how much of the response is binding.)

    ETA: I'm now wondering whether dancer/musician sponsorships are non-binding legally. As far as I know, the amounts set for them are below the full salary, benefits, pointe show budget, etc, for a dancer, for example, and it's hard to imagine a production sponsorship that much exceeds, if even equals, covering the full cost of a production. It's a way much of the time for the org to give public recognition for a purpose and to use general funds for something else less glamorous, like the accounting staff's salary or toilet paper.
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  30. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    I have been president of two organizations with 501(c)(3) status. In both organizations, we accepted donor funds that were designated to serve specific purposes. One was largish endowment (set up through the law firm hired by the donor) to fund the salary of an oral history expert on an ongoing basis, and for a school support organization, we received funds designated to send teachers at that school to a national conference. Both boards have several lawyers on board, CPA's who do the taxes and with whom we consult regularly.

    I'm not seeing a problem with the New England approach.