The Community Tennis Advocacy Task Force met recently in at The Great Park in Irvine to discuss ways to empower communities to develop more tennis activities, programs, tournaments and events. This effort was led by Melanie Bischoff, the Director of Community Tennis for the Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA), and Pam Austin, a member of the SCTA Executive Board of Directors. It was supported by about a dozen So Cal industry leaders.
“We want to help tennis providers in Southern California learn about opportunities for growth,” Austin said. “We have a lot of people doing great things. We also have others who want to do great things but need help in achieving their tennis goals.”
A powerful tool to promote tennis is through forming Community Tennis Associations (CTAs) and there are currently over 40 in So Cal serving areas as far north as San Luis Obispo and stretching south to the U.S. and Mexican border. The SCTA does not offer, host or organize the formation or control of CTAs, but often works closely with them.
“The SCTA wants to support local CTAs in any way that we can,” Bischoff said. “We can offer advice and connect to USTA programs and grant opportunities.”
Topics of discussion at the Community Advocacy Task Force included:
- What is a CTA?
- What are the benefits?
- How can you form one?
- How can the SCTA be off assistance to those wanting to form a CTA and grow tennis?
What is a CTA? A Community Tennis Association provides the underlying support for all tennis programs in a community. Dedicated volunteers and professionals in CTAs raise funds, promote programs, and publicize local tennis activities to ensure that tennis maintains strong roots in the communities. Most importantly, CTAs ensure that every program is accessible to everyone. District offices establish the framework for not only starting tennis programs in the community but for sustaining and expanding them. Guidance, grants, and technical assistance is available.
What are the benefits? A CTA is a 501(c)(3) organization with a board of directors, and must follow all rules and guidelines as directed by that status. One of the biggest benefits of a 501(c)(3) is exemption from taxes. This means your non-profit organization is exempt from federal taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. You may even be exempt from payroll taxes if you have employees. Being tax-exempt will save you money over time which is a plus to any nonprofit organization. Other advantages are the ability to apply for grants and other public or private allocations available only to IRS-recognized, 501(c)(3) organizations, the public legitimacy of IRS recognition and possible discounts on US Postal bulk-mail rates and other services.
How can you form a CTA? There are many steps to forming a CTA as a non-profit organization and below is a very general overview. Note: It is important to speak with experts and seek legal advice when undertaking this step. The below process is only a general overview extracted from Nolo’s Guide Book on how to form a nonprofit 501c3 status.
- Choose a name: The name of your nonprofit corporation cannot be the same as the name of another corporation on file with your state’s corporation’s office usually the Secretary of State’s office.
- File articles of incorporation: You must file “articles of incorporation” with the state’s corporate filing office. In this document, you fill out some basic information such as your nonprofit’s name and office address.
- Apply for your IRS Tax Exemption: Submit a federal 501(c)(3) tax exemption application to the IRS along with a copy of your filed articles with your application.
- Apply for a state tax exemption: This step does not apply to nonprofits in all states. In a few states, you must complete a separate application to get a state tax exemption. In most states, as long as you file nonprofit articles of incorporation and obtain your federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, your state tax exemption will be automatically granted.
- Draft bylaws: A nonprofit’s bylaws are the internal governing rules that contain rules and procedures for holding meetings, voting on issues, and electing directors and officers.
- Appoint directors: A nonprofit’s directors make the major policy and financial decisions for the nonprofit. Many states allow nonprofits to have just one director, but other states require at least three.
- Hold a meeting of the board: At the first meeting of the board of directors, the directors take care of formalities such as adopting the bylaws, electing officers, and recording the receipt of federal and state tax exemptions.
- Obtain licenses and permits: Check with your state department of consumer affairs or similar state licensing agency for information concerning state licensing requirements for your type of organization.
(Again a disclaimer: the above steps are not an absolute process to form a CTA as offered by the SCTA or any other organization. It is merely a brief list to create understanding of the multifaceted journey. Seeking legal advice from experts is critical to success.)
Steve Riggs is the President of the Orange County Community Tennis Association (OCCTA), which is a CTA in Southern California. The OCCTA offers programming, tournaments, classes and more. His group oversees the direction of the organization, and he heads all board meetings. To Riggs, the value of being a CTA is indispensible.
“CTAs have more impact on promoting tennis than people think,” said Riggs, also the Director of Tennis for the City of Irvine. “They have no boundaries and can have a strong impact on the growth and development in each community.”
For more information, please contact SCTA Director of Community Tennis Melanie Bischoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.