Why Incorporate your ARES Organization

This is concerning Incorporation and the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (VPA) and how it relates to ARES and other Volunteer groups especially in West Virginia:
  1. The VPA ONLY protects individuals acting under a "NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION" as described by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (501c) Section and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such code;

  2. The Individual must always act in good faith. Negligence removes the exemption.

  3. VPA does not supercede State Tort Laws, therefore Louisiana Law applies where VPA is silent, Louisiana does grant a LIMITED Volunteer protection under LRS 9:2792 et seq.

  4. The definition of Non-profit entity here concerning a non-profit corporation located out of state and not registered in Louisiana since there is not any registered agent or certificate of Secretary of State, while it is legal for the Group to solict membership and hold meetings here, any activity could be held to be "The Conduction of Business". Since Local Tort law is not waived, it could be held that a valid Non-profit Corporate Status does not exist for any Out of State Group in Louisiana as it relates to Volunteer Activities.

The basic problem here is how to achieve protection under the VPA? In the ARRL Field Forum issue of July-September 1997 (found at www.arrl.org/field_forum/9707/) a discussion was held as to these issues. Volunteers should not assume they'll be automatically covered, there are some loopholes and several criteria must be met for coverage:

  1. Volunteer working without compensation.

  2. Member of a "qualified" Non-Profit Corporation meeting Section (501a&c) standards.

  3. Good faith Performance.

It may seem crass to worry about liability, but an unexpected accident can lead to everyone present at an event to be sued and with no defense, an innocent volunteer could be a victim of his or her own kindness. 

It is simple matter to form a Non-profit Corporation in Louisiana, and it could potentially outweigh the cost (usually $90.) By forming a Local Nonprofit Corporation, worries about protection are diminished, however, all groups and clubs who aare Nonprofit shoud be careful to keep their paperwork in order as to avoid a lapse in corporate existance. The steps are simple:

  1. Obtain a Federal Employer Number (FEI) from the IRS by filing an SS-4 Form.

  2. Hold an Organizational meeting and decide on the Officers and Organization. Obtain the Incorporation forms here or if you are not in Louisiana, obtain competent legal assistance.

  3. File the incorporation papers with the Secretary of State, POB 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804 along with a $60.00 Filing Fee. File the certified copy you recieved with 30 days with the Clerk of Court in your Parish.

  4. If you collect over $2,500 per year in monies, you must apply for IRS 501(c)3 status for coantributions to your group to be tax deductible.

  5. Keep good records and serve the public.

Any questions? email [email protected]
Martin D. Wade, N5PZJ, Notary Public
POB 2222
Galliano, LA 70354
Or Call:

Here is a link to a great explaination of the VPA.

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