1. POLICY #05-01: PROHIBITION OF LOANS TO DIRECTORS OR OFFICERS
(Excerpt from Policy #05-1: Conflict of Interest)
Prohibition of Loans to Directors or Officers.
Pursuant to F.S. 617.0833 loans may not be made by this organization to its directors or officers, or to any other corporation, firm, association, or other entity in which one or more of its directors or officers is a director or officer or holds a substantial financial interest.
2. POLICY #IN-11-01: DONOR PRIVACY
What information we collect.
We collect and use various personal information from donors that includes: amount donated, address, telephone number, donor comments and email address. The tax laws in the United States and the State of Florida require us to keep contact information and contribution level of donors on file.
How we use that information.
We will never publish, sell, trade, rent or share your name (unless released by you for publication), email or mail addresses, or telephone number. We will use and by donating you grant us permission to use contact information (email, telephone number and address) of donors for these four (4) purposes only:
- Distribute receipts for donations
- Thank you for your donation
- Inform you about our upcoming fundraising and other activities via newsletters or such
- Internal analysis and record keeping
- Reporting to relevant U.S. and State agencies (these reports are not for public inspection)
- Contact you about changes to this policy
Properly anonymized donor information is used for promotional and fundraising activities. We may allow donors the option to have their name publicly associated with their donation unless the donor explicitly chooses the “anonymous” field when donating online. In all other cases the default is for staff and volunteers to assume all donations are not to be publicly announced unless the donor explicitly indicates otherwise. Comments given in donor forms are published in public lists and may be used in promotional materials while comments sent to us via email, fax or telephone are kept strictly confidential.
All access to donor financial information is strictly limited to professional staff that needs to process those data. No such data are given to any person, organization or group who does not need to access those data. Support Our Troops uses the services of two payment processing services: Authorize.net and PayPal. We neither store nor have access to your credit card information, bank account numbers or other account data sent to those processing services. We have chosen to use these services due to their world-class security and strong reputations. Checks, money orders and similar methods of payment sent to our office are handled by professional and trusted staff. Handling of these drafts is always performed in the presence of at least two members of staff. However, we cannot guarantee the security of these drafts while they are in the postal system.
Donor Bill of Rights
We subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights. Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:
- To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
- To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
- To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
- To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
- To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
- To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
- To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
- To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
- To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
- To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.
The text of this statement in its entirety was developed by the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (AAFRC), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE).
This policy has been promulgated under incipient policymaking authority of SOT management, and in order to allow time for refinement and full development has not yet been adopted by the Board of Directors.
3. POLICY #IN11-05: BENEFICIARY PRIVACY
The names of individual persons to whom this Organization provides goods, services or money, will not be publicly released.
Thank-you letters if posted or distributed will have enough of the name, rank, unit, and location information redacted to protect privacy.
Recipients may of course waive this privacy protection. However, this Organization shall not request a waiver either directly or indirectly when distributing goods, services or money, because our services are in the nature of offset or repayment of a moral debt which is virtually impossible for us to sufficiently deliver given what America’s military servicemen, servicewomen, and their families, do for all of us.
Information must by law be released upon demand or requirement of the following:
- Subpoena or other court order.
- Patriot Act
- Internal Revenue Service
This policy has been promulgated under incipient policymaking authority of SOT management, and in order to allow time for refinement and full development has not yet been adopted by the Board of Directors.
Support Our Troops, Inc’s accountants are charged with keeping everything in proper order on a continual basis. BDO has a practice section devoted to nonprofit representation, and for that reason was selected as SOT’s accountants and to prepare the annual Form 990.
There is no substitute for local presence, experience, and insight. At BDO, clients throughout Central Florida work directly with partners based in our Orlando office. As with every office, Orlando-based BDO professionals regularly draw upon the full depth and breadth of our national resources. BDO’s high partner-to-staff ratio and hands-on service approach ensure that most partners are on a first-name basis with industry and technical specialists throughout the country, and in many cases around the world.
Our office serves clients of all sizes in Technology & Life Sciences, Nonprofit, Manufacturing & Distribution, Real Estate & Construction, Healthcare, and other key industries throughout Orlando.
BDO professionals actively participate in both local and national industry groups, and are involved in numerous community outreach and volunteer programs
BDO Orlando Office
201 South Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
5. POLICY #09-05: INTERNAL CONTROLS
Specific Operational Steps to Be Followed
- All checks and financial mail to one location: P. O. Box 70, Daytona Beach, FL, 32115-00070, or the main office at 595 West Granada Blvd, Suite J, Ormond Beach, FL, 32174.
- Two people present when mail picked up, checks extracted, checks prepped for deposit, and deposited.
- Checks logged in and copied by someone who does not prepare the deposit slip.
- No checks on sub accounts
- No cards on sub accounts
- Use online banking only for sub accounts
- One officer has of the password
- Another officer has second of the password
- Access to checks is limited to senior management.
- Checks are not accessible to bookkeeper, data entry people, or accountants.
Accounting (server based electronic access to multiple overseers)
- All financial transactions are maintained on a single set of books on electronic bookkeeping software, and none are to be maintained outside this software.
- The bookkeeping software is maintained on a server in a manner that gives multiple users simultaneous access.
- The following people will each have full time access to the bookkeeping software from their desktop, each using a unique username and password:
- Internal staff
- Bookkeepers and data entry workers, both internal and external
- he several CPAs and staff members in SOT’s external independent accounting firm.
- The external Audit CPA.
- The server has a message board system enabling the above to exchange notes and message about entries, accounting and bookkeeping matters.
What does this do? It makes it so everyone is watching everything in real time all the time. It makes it so that odd transactions and changes in patterns will show up quickly to a number of people in separate locations, all of who have a duty to notice and report it.
General Internal Control Procedures
Your Role in Internal Controls
- Establish the “tone at the top” and promote an ethical business environment by providing structure, feedback, and discipline.
- Assess risks specific to your operations and develop a control system to address risks that could prevent achieving established goals.
- Establish and maintain control activities such as reconciliations, approvals, and review of operating activities.
- Ensure appropriate access to and use of SOT information and systems.
- Monitor control system and activities to identify and correct breakdowns timely.
Objectives of Internal Control
The objectives are simple:
- Everything gets properly booked and tracked.
- No one can steal anything.
- SOT never gets embarrassed.
Internal controls are the methods and procedures designed by management to safeguard assets and to manage resources. It’s the system of checks and balances. A system of internal control serves to minimize errors in the accounting records and to deter fraud, embezzlement and theft by employees, customers and vendors. The system of internal control provides reasonable assurance of the following:
- Reliable financial and operational reports
- Efficient and effective operations
- Compliance with applicable state and federal laws and/or regulations and university policies and procedures
You are responsible for setting the “tone at the top” of your area or department’s control environment and ensuring that adequate controls are included in your daily operations.
It is a system of checks and balances. This system of checks and balances over financial transactions is needed for much the same reasons why such systems are needed for democratic governments: absolute power leads to undesirable results. In government, absolute power can result in despotism; total control by one person over financial transactions can result in theft or fraud.
Components of Internal Control
Types of Internal Controls:
- Detective controls are designed to detect errors or irregularities that may have occurred.
- Corrective controls are designed to correct errors or irregularities that have been detected.
- Preventive controls are designed to keep errors or irregularities from occurring in the first place.
Types of Control Activities:
- Review of operating performance
- Security of assets
- Segregation of duties
Why are monthly reconciliations and reviews so important?
Monthly reviews of reconciliations prepared by your staff and the concurrent reviews of the detail transactions posted to the funds in your department are some of the most important internal accounting control procedures that you will perform. Reviews and reconciliations are detective controls. They accomplish two primary objectives.
First, these reviews are one of the key processes in the system of checks and balances (internal controls) needed in your department to prevent fraud, theft, or inappropriate use of public funds.
Second, these monthly reviews can also enable you to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the business practices in your department.
Obviously, some involved must delegate responsibility and authority for some of the clerical and administrative functions to staff and/or employees they supervise. To build effective working relationships with such staff and employees, you must trust these employees to do the right thing and treat them with respect. On the whole, SOT is very fortunate to have honest and dedicated staff and employees, however, as in any company, not all staff or employees are deserving of your trust. Absolute trust is not appropriate: you cannot abdicate your responsibility for oversight and management reviews of the financial and administrative duties of your department. Fraud frauds and theft will occur if you do not provide adequate control and oversight. Such inadequate reviews can enable seemingly honest and trustworthy employees and staff to steal thousands of dollars per month for years unnoticed. They don’t need a gun to steal; they just need you to be lazy or overly trusting.
You probably don’t think that employees or staff could ever do the following:
- Create fictitious invoices and forge SOT’s signature to reimburse themselves for fictitious business expenses
- Use a credit card to buy jewelry, clothes, and other personal items
- Enter overtime hours into the payroll system to pay themselves overtime (at 1.5 times their normal pay rate) for hours not worked
- Use SOT supplies, equipment, employees or resources to benefit a private business in which the employee or staff has an ownership interest (see Conflict of Interest policy)
- Issue fictitious customer refunds to conceal funds stolen from receipts
However, these are just some of the types of thefts and frauds that have occurred in other groups and could occur in SOT. You are responsible for ensuring that your review is adequate to provide reasonable assurance that these or similar types of problems are detected on a timely basis.
In addition, your review can serve as a final check on the appropriateness of expenditures. For example, your review of expenditures might reveal alcoholic beverages for a fund raising reception were mistakenly charged to public Education & General funds or office supplies purchased from Boise Cascade (or other such vendors) charged to sponsored projects funded by the federal government both of which are prohibited by state or federal regulations (See sections of this manual related to Entertainment and Sponsored Programs).
A review of the detail transactions can also provide insight into the pattern of revenues and expenses in your department. These patterns may indicate opportunities to streamline or improve business processes. For example, if the pattern reveals multiple low dollar transactions to certain supply vendors each day, perhaps a new procedure could be implemented in the department where the employees are notified that such supplies orders will be consolidated and only processed once or twice per week. Vendors who do a large volume of business with the university often provide next day delivery so reducing the frequency of orders is now more feasible. If such changes are not practical, then the use of the American Express Purchase card would reduce some of the paperwork associated with such multiple orders. Likewise, if employees frequently have multiple retroactive payroll funding changes, perhaps changes are needed in the way funding distribution are assigned or alternative methods for dealing with sponsored funding delays such as letters of guarantee (contact the Office of Sponsored Programs) could be utilized to eliminate the need for processing funding changes.
What Elements Compose Internal Controls?
Internal control consists of five interrelated components: the control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communications, and monitoring. Each of these components is an integral part of the management process and plays a specific role in departmental internal control procedures.
- Control Environment. The control environment sets the tone of an organization, influencing the control consciousness of its people. It is the foundation for all other components of internal control, providing discipline and structure. Control environment factors include the integrity, ethical values, and competence of the organization’s people; management’s philosophy and operating style; the way management assigns authority and responsibility, and organizes and develops its human resources; and the attention and direction provided by the board of visitors.
- Risk Assessment. Every organization faces a variety of business risks from external and internal sources that must be assessed. A precondition to risk assessment is establishment of objectives, linked at different levels and internally consistent. Risk assessment is the identification and analysis of relevant risks that may prevent the achievement of established objectives.
- Control Activities. Control activities are the policies and procedures implemented by management to ensure management directives are carried out to meet organizational objectives. They are designed to address risks that could prevent achieving the organization’s objectives. Control activities occur throughout the organization, at all levels and in all functions. Each department is unique, and only the most basic of control activities are specifically outlined in university policy and procedures. The department head is responsible for identifying other appropriate control activities to address the unique risks to which his or her department may be exposed.
- Information and Communication. Pertinent information must be identified, captured, and communicated in a form and time frame that enables people to carry out their responsibilities. Effective communication also must occur in a broader sense, flowing down, across, and up the organizational structure. All personnel must have a means of communicating significant information upstream. The department must also effectively communicate with external parties, such as students, sponsors of research, alumni, and administrative departments. The administrative departments are here to assist you in achieving your operational goals without violating applicable laws, regulations, or policies. If you are unsure of the legal and/or business risks associated with a particular transaction, it is definitely NOT “better to ask forgiveness than request permission.”
- Monitoring. Effective monitoring is a process that assesses the quality of the system’s performance over time. It includes the regular management and supervisory activities as well as separate evaluations by central units, Internal Audit, or other independent parties.
- SOT’s server based electronic access to multiple overseers system discussed hereinabove is intended to help prevent this.
Limitations of Internal Controls
- No matter how well internal controls are designed, they can only provide reasonable assurance that objectives will be achieved. Segregation of duties decreases the chances of controls being circumvented through collusion, but controls can still break down through human error and judgment, as well as management override. Management override should not be confused with management intervention, which represents management actions to depart from prescribed policies and procedures for legitimate purposes. Internal control deficiencies should be reported to the outside accountants and to the management.
Internal Control Process Objectives
A well-designed process with appropriate internal controls should meet most if not all of the system’s control objectives. A system of internal control can be evaluated by assessing its ability to achieve seven commonly accepted control objectives:
- Authorization. All transactions are pre-approved by responsible personnel.
- Completeness. All valid transactions are included in the accounting records.
- Accuracy. All valid transactions are accurate, consistent with the originating transaction data, and information is recorded in a timely manner.
- Validity. All recorded transactions fairly represent the economic events that actually occurred, are lawful in nature, and have been executed in accordance with management’s general authorization.
- Physical Safeguards and Security. Access to physical assets and information systems are controlled and properly restricted to authorized personnel.
- Error Handling. Errors detected at any stage of processing receive prompt corrective action and are reported to the appropriate level of management.
- Segregation of Duties. Duties are assigned to individuals in a manner that ensures that no one individual can control both the recording function and the procedures relative to processing a transaction.
- Annual Internal Control Survey. An Assessment Tool
- Reconciliation of Financial Activity (to be performed monthly)
- Cash Receipts Reconciliation (if applicable)
- Accounts Receivable Reconciliation (if applicable)
- Salary Expenditures (Periodically review rates for any salary employees)
Salary Payroll Report Reconciliation
- Review the salary reports (previously reconciled by a fiscal person) that support the charges.
- Determine that salary payroll expenditures are valid.
- Authorize any corrections.
- Authorize the salary payroll reports.
TIP: Ensure that hours entered for payment to salary employees have been recorded properly, i.e. hours are recorded, approved and entered timely; salary overtime hours worked are either paid or accrued leave is granted.
Hourly Payroll Report Reconciliation
Includes payments for all wage employees and is provided by the payroll office for transactions reported in each payroll period.
- Ensure that time records were reconciled to verification reports.
- Review the wage rates on the payroll reconciliation report. Consider comparing to prior reports if there are several wage employees to ensure that the rates have not been changed.
- Periodically, select a random sample of employees and trace the hours worked to the employee’s timecard verifying accuracy and supervisor’s authorization.
- Periodically, determine that only appropriate individuals are authorized to enter wage hours
Monthly Corporate Credit Card Transactions
- Review the reconciliation previously prepared for each cardholder.
- Peruse the description of monthly activity for unusual vendors.
- Randomly select purchases from the description of monthly activity and review the vendor receipt. Determine propriety of purchases.
- Monthly credit card charges get a second level of approval, after the employee has verified the expense. For management, this second level is the accounting firm.
Monthly Telephone Charges`
- Obtain monthly invoice.
- Compare total amount due to previous bill.
- Scan charge summaries for unusual amounts.
- Periodically, review the number of telephone, Ethernet, and modem accounts for reasonableness.
TIP: Have employees and supervisors review individual toll charges and certify business purpose. Guidelines prohibit use of resources for non-charity activities.
- Verify that all transactions posted were properly initiated and authorized.
- Verify that all transactions initiated posted in a reasonable period.
- Scan for unusual amounts or vendors.
- Certify completion of the reconciliation process.
Budget and Encumbrances
- Review changes in the overhead allocations.
- Determine that changes in the budget and encumbrances appear reasonable and appropriate.
- Ensure percent used is reasonable for the time period
More Background Materials
Roles and responsibilities in internal control
Everyone in this organization has responsibility for internal control to some extent. Almost everyone involved produces information used in the internal control system or takes other actions needed to effect control. Also, everyone is responsible for communicating upward problems in operations, noncompliance with the code of conduct, or other policy violations or illegal actions. Each major entity in corporate governance has a particular role to play:
Management: The Chief Executive Officer (the top manager) of the organization has overall responsibility for designing and implementing effective internal control. More than any other individual, the chief executive sets the “tone at the top” that affects integrity and ethics and other factors of a positive control environment. In a large company, the chief executive fulfills this duty by providing leadership and direction to senior managers and reviewing the way they’re controlling the business. Senior managers, in turn, assign responsibility for establishment of more specific internal control policies and procedures to personnel responsible for the unit’s functions. In a cascading responsibility, a manager is effectively a chief executive of his or her sphere of responsibility. Of particular significance are financial officers and their staffs, whose control activities cut across, as well as up and down, the operating and other units of an enterprise.
Board of Directors: Management is accountable to the board of directors, which provides governance, guidance and oversight. Effective board members are objective, capable and inquisitive. They also have a knowledge of the entity’s activities and environment, and commit the time necessary to fulfill their board responsibilities. Management may be in a position to override controls and ignore or stifle communications from subordinates, enabling a dishonest management, which intentionally misrepresents results to cover its tracks. A strong, active board, particularly when coupled with effective upward communications channels and capable financial, legal and internal audit functions, is often best able to identify and correct such a problem.
Auditors: The internal auditors and external auditors of the organization also measure the effectiveness of internal control through their efforts. They assess whether the controls are properly designed, implemented and working effectively, and make recommendations on how to improve internal control. They may also review Information technology controls, which relate to the IT systems of the organization. To provide reasonable assurance that internal controls involved in the financial reporting process are effective, they may be tested by an external auditor (the organization’s public accountants), who can opine on the internal controls of the company and the reliability of its financial reporting.
Internal control can provide reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of an organization will be met. The concept of reasonable assurance implies a high degree of assurance, constrained by the costs and benefits of establishing incremental control procedures.
Effective internal control implies the organization generates reliable financial reporting and substantially complies with the laws and regulations that apply to it. However, whether an organization achieves operational and strategic objectives may depend on factors outside the enterprise, such as competition or technological innovation. These factors are outside the scope of internal control; therefore, effective internal control provides only timely information or feedback on progress towards the achievement of operational and strategic objectives, but cannot guarantee their achievement.
Internal control involves human action, which introduces the possibility of errors in processing or judgment. Internal control can also be overridden by collusion among employees or coercion by top management.
Describing Internal Controls
Internal controls may be described in terms of: a) the objective they pertain to; and b) the nature of the control activity itself.
- Objective categorization
Internal control activities are designed to provide reasonable assurance that particular objectives are achieved, or related progress understood. The specific target used to determine whether a control is operating effectively is called the control objective. Control objectives fall under several detailed categories; in financial auditing, they relate to particular financial statement assertions, but broader frameworks are helpful to also capture operational and compliance aspects:
- Existence (Validity). Only valid or authorized transactions are processed (i.e., no invalid transactions)
- Occurrence (Cutoff). Transactions occurred during the correct period or were processed timely.
- Completeness. All transactions are processed that should be (i.e., no omissions)
- Valuation. Transactions are calculated using an appropriate methodology or are computationally accurate.
- Rights & Obligations. Assets represent the rights of the company, and liabilities its obligations, as of a given date.
- Presentation & Disclosure (Classification). Components of financial statements (or other reporting) are properly classified (by type or account) and described.
- Reasonableness. Transactions or results appears reasonable relative to other data or trends.
For example, a control objective for an accounts payable function might be: “Payments are only made to authorized vendors for goods or services received.” This is a validity objective. A typical control procedure designed to achieve this objective is: “The accounts payable system compares the purchase order, receiving record, and vendor invoice prior to authorizing payment.”
Management is responsible for implementing appropriate controls that apply to transactions in their areas of responsibility. Internal auditors perform their audits to evaluate whether the controls are designed and implemented effectively to address the relevant objectives.
- Activity Categorization
Control activities may also be described by the type or nature of activity. These include (but are not limited to):
- Segregation of duties. Separating authorization, custody, and record keeping roles to limit risk of fraud or error by one person.
- Authorization of transactions. Review of particular transactions by an appropriate person.
- Retention of records. Maintaining documentation to substantiate transactions.
- Supervision or monitoring of operations. Observation or review of ongoing operational activity.
- Physical safeguards. Usage of cameras, locks, safes, physical barriers, etc. to protect property, such as merchandise inventory.
- Top-level reviews. Analyses of actual results versus organizational goals or plans, periodic and regular operational reviews, metrics, and other key performance indicators.
- IT Security. Usage of passwords, access logs, etc. to ensure access restricted to authorized personnel.
- Top level reviews. Management review of reports comparing actual performance versus plans, goals, and established objectives.
- Controls over information processing. A variety of control activities are used in information processing. Examples include edit checks of data entered, accounting for transactions in numerical sequences, comparing file totals with control accounts, and controlling access to data, files and programs.
Fraud and internal control
Internal control plays an important role in the prevention and detection of fraud. The organization periodically performs a fraud risk assessment and assesses related controls. This typically involves identifying scenarios in which theft or loss could occur and determining if existing control procedures effectively manage the risk to an acceptable level. The risk that senior management might override important financial controls to manipulate financial reporting is also a key area of focus in fraud risk assessment.
- SOT’s server based electronic access to multiple overseers system discussed hereinabove is intended to help prevent this.
Internal Controls and Improvement
If the internal control system is implemented only to prevent fraud and comply with laws and regulations, then an important opportunity is missed. The same internal controls can also be used to systematically improve businesses, particularly in regard to effectiveness and efficiency.
Continuous Controls Monitoring
Advances in technology and data analysis have led to the development of numerous tools which can automatically and continuously evaluate the effectiveness of internal controls. Used in conjunction with continuous auditing, continuous controls monitoring provides assurance on financial information flowing through the business processes.
- SOT’s server based electronic access to multiple overseers system discussed herein above is intended to service this ability.
6. POLICY #10-02: POLITICAL ACTIVITY & LOBBYING
- Support Our Troops is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical, patriotic family organization aimed at bolstering the well-being of the troops and their families. Neither Support Our Troops, nor Chapters, engage in any political activity, electioneering or lobbying that would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of Support Our Troops under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”).
- Civilian-led, Support Our Troops enthusiastically welcomes civilians, active-duty families, veterans, and individuals from all political parties.
- Support Our Troops does not take political positions, endorse or oppose candidates or political parties, or engage in political or legislative activity, except as related to our Support Our Troops! license plates.
- Support Our Troops does not speak politically.
- To best serve the active-duty troops and their families, Support Our Troops closely interacts with state and federal agencies, and does not police or criticize them. The troops and their families can best be served by Support Our Troops closely coordinating with these entities, and they cannot confidently closely associate with Support Our Troops if we also act as their watchdog.
- Other than enthusiastically encouraging, supporting and rooting for the success of and support for America’s troops, Support Our Troops does not take or express a position for or against any peacekeeping mission, action, natural disaster mobilization, war or the like, including:
- Going into it
- Conducting it; or
- Concluding it.
- Support Our Troops’ position is that good Americans always support America’s troops and their families without regard to the particular deployment.
- Support Our Troops recognizes that America’s troops keep all of our families safe, and good Americans always support their troops and their families wherever they are serving to protect our families.
7. POLICY #09-04: ACCOUNTANT INTEGRITY
The Organization will at all times use an external qualified and experienced independent Certified Public Accountant firm to oversee the Organization’s software books. If live server-based accounting software is not used, this accounting firm shall be provided monthly with a complete copy of the Organization’s books, and such records as are appropriate to assist it in properly performing its accounting duties.
The accountant firm may be fired only by a majority vote of the Board of Directors of Support Our Troops, Inc.
The accounting firm shall employ only Generally Accepted Accounting Practices for nonprofits in all of its work for this Organization, and take into consideration all applicable state and federal charitable rules and laws in discharging its duty.
All financial transactions will be maintained on accounting software and any necessary attendant software, and none shall be maintained outside same. This software may be located in the Organization’s offices, or as technology permits on a server enabling the Organization and the various accountants, bookkeepers and auditor to work on a central set of live books thereby enabling constant live crosschecking of all transactions. Such live central books will make it so that everyone is watching everything in real time all the time. It will cause any odd transactions or changes in patterns to show up quickly to a number of people in separate locations, all of who have a duty to notice and report it, thereby providing an enhanced level of safety and oversight against anything that would interfere with the proper functioning of the Organization.
To keep overhead down, the Organization may use internal or external bookkeepers for data entry. Bookkeepers provide ministerial services and may be hired and discharged by management without board notice or approval
8. POLICY #10-01: EVENT CODE OF CONDUCT
Participants at SOT events will endeavor to conform their conduct of the following:
- Informational materials and any solicitation materials will be truthful and accurate.
- Unfair or deceptive acts or practices will not be engaged in.
- Necessary permits will be obtained for any event.
- Events will be supportive of America’s troops and their families.
- Events will be supportive of the activities of America’s troops and their families.
- Events will be positive in tone and nature.
- Events will have no inter-personal physical violence or trouble with the police.
- Events will not contain anything that could be construed by SOT in its sole discretion to undermine the morale of the troops.
- Events will not contain anything to which any of the troops themselves would object.
- Events will not be derogatory to the troops or their families and is respectful of others.
- Events will not contain anything that parodies, mocks, derogates or otherwise casts a negative impression regarding our troops, their activities, their families, Support Our Troops, the Chapters, or the charitable mission and activities of Support Our Troops and Chapters.
9. POLICY #09-03: WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY
It is the intent of this organization to adhere to all laws and regulations that apply to the organization and the underlying purpose of this policy is to support the organization’s goal of compliance.
The support of all ODEs is necessary to achieving compliance with various laws and regulations.
If any officer, director or employee (ODE) reasonably believes that some policy, practice, or activity of this organization is in violation of law, a written complaint must be filed by that ODE in strict conformity with the following. All such complaints must be in writing with a provable paper trial for such and its delivery in order to avoid arguments about what was really done.
The Organization may recover damages from ODEs for a report found not meritorious, which is found not to be a valid violation, and which ODE has not strictly followed the procedures set forth herein.
An ODE is protected from retaliation only if the ODE brings the alleged unlawful activity, policy, or practice to the attention of the following, in writing, in the following order, and provides same with a reasonable opportunity to investigate and correct the alleged unlawful activity, and the protection described herein below is only available to ODEs that fully comply with this prerequisite:
- ODE must first try to correct the matter internally at their immediate work level, and if the matter is not corrected within a reasonable time,
- Then report it to the CEO, and if the matter is not corrected within a reasonable time,
- Then the Board of Directors, and if the matter is not corrected within a reasonable time,
- Then the Organization’s accountants, and if the matter is not corrected within a reasonable time,
- Then the auditing CPA, and if the matter is not corrected within a reasonable time,
- Then a local attorney to deal with it privately with the Organization without attempting to extract money for the ODE for same.
Matters that are corrected internally at a given level may not be further reported, and the protections do not further apply.
These steps are important for several reasons. There are different types of ODEs, personality types, objectives, and levels or manipulation, exploitation, opportunism, and caring. The Organizations costs in dealing with such matters when raised improperly can be high. Organizational reputation is important. Mistakes and innocent oversights occur. Reporters and nefarious groups who do not like America or the military seek out things to hobble those who are trying to help and masquerade that they are helping by investigating reporting even though they themselves never do anything to actually positively help. Too many seek the limelight instead of actual production.
The Organization also encourages reporting of the improper conduct of outside nefarious groups and media.
This organization will not retaliate against an ODE who in good faith, has made a protest or raised a complaint against some practice of this organization, or of another individual or entity with whom this organization has a business relationship, on the basis of a reasonable belief that the practice is in violation of law, and which is in fact in the end found to be an actual substantive valid violation, and which ODE has strictly followed the procedures set forth above.
10. POLICY #05-1: CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Article I- Purpose
The purpose of the conflict of interest policy is to protect this tax-exempt organization’s (Organization) interest when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director of the Organization or might result in a possible excess benefit transaction. This policy is intended supplement policies and not supersede any applicable state and federal laws governing conflict of interest applicable to nonprofit and charitable Corporations.
Article II -Definitions
1. Interested Person
Any director, principal officer, or member of a committee with governing board delegated powers, who has a direct or indirect financial interest, as defined below, is an interested person.
2. Financial Interest. A person has a financial interest if the person has, directly or indirectly, through business, investment, or family:
- An ownership or investment interest in any entity with which the Organization has a transaction or arrangement,
b. A compensation arrangement with the Organization or with any entity or individual with which the Organization has a transaction or arrangement, or
c. A potential ownership or investment interest in, or compensation arrangement with, any entity or individual with which the Organization is negotiating a transaction or arrangement.
Compensation includes direct and indirect remuneration as well as gifts or favors that are not insubstantial.
A financial interest is not necessarily a conflict of interest. Under Article III, Section 2, a person who has a financial interest may have a conflict of interest only if the appropriate governing board or committee decides that a conflict of interest exists.
Article III – Procedures
1. Duty to Disclose. In connection with any actual or possible conflict of interest, an interested person must disclose the existence of the financial interest and be given the opportunity to disclose all material facts to the directors and members of committees with governing board delegated powers considering the proposed transaction or arrangement.
2. Determining Whether a Conflict of Interest Exists. After disclosure of the financial interest and all material facts, and after any discussion with the interested person, he/she shall leave the governing board or committee meeting while the determination of a conflict of interest is discussed and voted upon. The remaining board or committee members shall decide if a conflict of interest exists.
3. Procedures for Addressing the Conflict of Interest.
- An interested person may make a presentation at the governing board or committee meeting, but after the presentation, he/she shall leave the meeting during the discussion of, and the vote on, the transaction or arrangement involving the possible conflict of interest.
b. The chairperson of the governing board or committee shall, if appropriate, appoint a disinterested person or committee to investigate alternatives to the proposed transaction or arrangement.
c. After exercising due diligence, the governing board or committee shall determine whether the Organization can timely obtain with reasonable efforts a more advantageous transaction or arrangement from a person or entity that would not give rise to a conflict of interest.
d. If a more advantageous transaction or arrangement is not reasonably and timely possible under circumstances not producing a conflict of interest, the governing board or committee shall determine by a majority vote of the disinterested directors whether the transaction or arrangement is in the Organization’s best interest, for its own benefit, and whether it is fair and reasonable. In conformity with the above determination it shall make its decision as to whether to enter into the transaction or arrangement.
- Violations of the Conflicts of Interest Policy.
a. If the governing board or committee has reasonable cause to believe a member has failed to disclose actual or possible conflicts of interest, it shall inform the member of the basis for such belief and afford the member an opportunity to explain the alleged failure to disclose.
b. If, after hearing the member’s response and after making further investigation as warranted by the circumstances, the governing board or committee determines the member has failed to disclose an actual or possible conflict of interest, it shall take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action.
Article IV – Records of Proceedings
The minutes of the governing board and all committees with board delegated powers shall contain:
- The names of the persons who disclosed or otherwise were found to have a financial interest in connection with an actual or possible conflict of interest, the nature of the financial interest, any action taken to determine whether a conflict of interest was present, and the governing board’s or committee’s decision as to whether a conflict of interest in fact existed.
b. The names of the persons who were present for discussions and votes relating to the transaction or arrangement, the content of the discussion, including any alternatives to the proposed transaction or arrangement, and a record of any votes taken in connection with the proceedings.
Article V – Compensation
a. A voting member of the governing board who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the Organization for services is precluded from voting on matters pertaining to that member’s compensation.
b. A voting member of any committee whose jurisdiction includes compensation matters and who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the Organization for services is precluded from voting on matters pertaining to that member’s compensation.
c. No voting member of the governing board or any committee whose jurisdiction includes compensation matters and who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the Organization, either individually or collectively, is prohibited from providing information to any committee regarding compensation.
d. The majority of the governing body will be non-salaried and will not be related to the salaried personnel or to parties providing services. The salaried individuals cannot vote on their own compensation and the Board will make all compensation decisions.
Article VI – Annual Statements
Each director, principal officer and member of a committee with governing board delegated powers shall annually sign a statement which affirms such person:
- Has received a copy of the conflicts of interest policy,
b. Has read and understands the policy,
c. Has agreed to comply with the policy, and
d. Understands the Organization is charitable and in order to maintain its federal tax exemption it must engage primarily in activities which accomplish one or more of its tax-exempt purposes.
e. Each officer, director and key employee shall disclose annually interests that could give rise to conflicts.
f. Failure of the organization to engage in this ritual in any particular year shall not give rise to any breach of duty, cause of action, or assumption of impropriety.
Article VII – Periodic Reviews
To ensure the Organization operates in a manner consistent with charitable purposes and does not engage in activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status, periodic reviews shall be conducted. The periodic reviews shall, at a minimum, include the following subjects:
- Whether compensation arrangements and benefits are reasonable, based on competent survey information, and the result of arm’s length bargaining.
b. Whether partnerships, joint ventures, and arrangements with management organizations conform to the Organization’s written policies, are properly recorded, reflect reasonable investment or payments for goods and services, further charitable purposes and do not result in inurement, impermissible private benefit or in an excess benefit transaction.
Article VIII – Use of Outside Experts
When conducting the periodic reviews as provided for in Article VII, the Organization may, but need not, use outside advisors. If outside experts are used, their use shall not relieve the governing board of its responsibility for ensuring periodic reviews are conducted, but shall provide strong evidence of their compliance therewith and their efforts to conduct themselves properly.
Article IX – Prohibition of Loans to Directors or Officers.
Pursuant to Florida Statute 617.0833 loans may not be made by this organization to its directors or officers, or to any other corporation, firm, association, or other entity in which one or more of its directors or officers is a director or officer or holds a substantial financial interest.
11. POLICY #09-02: DOCUMENT RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION POLICY
SOT always responsibly saves and redundantly backs up everything, even its website. The best practices and honor of the people involved in anything will never be caused to happen by writing them down at length.
Document Retention and Destruction Policy
The Organization will continue to retain all documents, physical and electronic, and not destroy same. The Organization will continue to store redundant copies of electronic documents in separate locations. Documents means, basically, everything used to conduct the business of the Organization.
12. NONPROFIT REGULATORY LAW ATTORNEYS
Support Our Troops®is fortunate to be represented by the law firm of Copilevitz & Canter, LLC in nonprofit regulatory issues involved in the activities in which we engage on behalf of America’s active duty troops and their families.
Copilevitz & Canter, L.L.C., a nationally recognized law firm, represents nonprofit organizations in the areas of nonprofit registration, regulation, charitable solicitation, and fundraising.
Nathan Thomas, Esq., partner
Kansas City: 816-472-9000
Washington D.C.: 202-861-0740
13. PERMANENT 501(C)(3) NONPROFIT STATUS
The state in which Support Our Troops was incorporated is Florida. As such, SupportOurTroops.Org is registered as a charity with the Florida Division of Consumer Services. We are also registered as a charity in all other states and the District. We re not registered as a charity in Utah.
Our Florida certification of registration is posted via the Florida page of this site. Our registration number is FLC# CH18766. The Division does not post information online that we can find, but information may be obtained from the Division by calling 850-488-2221.
Each state has a different month for renewal of Charity registrations, Many no longer issue renewal certificates as a smart cost-saving measure, and therefore corporate and charitable status in each particular state is best checked my visiting that state’s respective corporate or charitable registration website.
14. ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
ARTICLE I – NAME AND NATURE
The name of this corporation shall be Support Our Troops, Inc. The corporation is organized as a not-for-profit corporation.
ARTICLE II – DURATION
The term of existence of the corporation shall be perpetual.
ARTICLE III – PURPOSE
This Corporation is organized for the charitable purposes of providing support and assistance to the children, dependents and spouse of military service members and armed forces members, and to the members themselves, including without limitation the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines National Guard, Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Reserves, and operational employees and agents of other U.S. government departments or agencies (all hereafter, troops), post September 11, 2001, all as further defined and set forth from time to time in the Bylaws and Resolutions of this Corporation. This Corporation is further organized for the charitable purposes of: obtaining authorization from any state official, agency or department of any state within the United States of America, its territories or possessions for the issuance of a specialty motor vehicle license plate or other beneficial item, grant, appropriation, authorization or service; generally soliciting contributions from the public and government; publicizing support for America’s troops and promoting a clear demonstration by Americans of their support of their troops through the display of “Support Our Troops” and other patriotic items; providing diverse means by which the public can publicly display their support for and pride in their troops while at the same time raising funds to financially assist the troops and their families who are sacrificing to protect all of us; manufacturing, distributing, marketing and selling items and products, and conducting activities which facilitate the purposes set forth herein; initiating other message-disseminating and revenue-generating avenues which facilitate the purposes set forth herein; and conducting all lawful business related to its activities and the management and distribution of the funds and proceeds related to those activities
ARTICLE IV- ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The Board recognizes that this Corporation, the charitable purposes and business concept behind it, were the ideas of Martin C. Boire. Without him this Corporation would not have come into existence and without him what comes of it would not be. As Founder, he is the man principally undertaking the creation and organization of all aspects of the building of this charitable enterprise, and the primary thought and labor in its creation and the launching of its enterprises and structures will in large part come from him and be driven by his thoughts, labor and ingenuity.
ARTICLE V – EFFECTIVE DATE
The corporate existence shall begin on February 28, 2005.
ARTICLE XI – DIRECTORS
The method of election of directors shall be as stated in the Bylaws. The corporation shall be managed by officers under the direction of a board of directors. The corporation shall have four (4) directors initially, and the number of directors may be increased or decreased from time to time as provide in the Bylaws. The initial directors shall be:
Joseph V. Anania
Martin C. Boire
Mark Erickson, C.P.A.
Bruce Jonas, Esquire
ARTICLE VII – BYLAWS
The power to adopt, alter, amend or repeal Bylaws shall be vested in the Board of Directors.
ARTICLE VIII – INITIAL PRINCIPAL OFFICE
The initial principal office and mailing address of the corporation shall be:
13617 N. Florida Avenue Tampa, FL 33613 Mailing Address
PO Box 70 Daytona Beach, FL 32115
ARTICLE IX – REGISTERED AGENT, OFFICE
The initial registered agent and office of this corporation shall be:
NRAI Services, Inc.
2731 Executive Park Drive, Suite 4
Weston, FL 33331
ARTICLE X – INCORPORATOR
The name and address of the Incorporator of this corporation is
Martin C. Boire
13617 N. Florida Avenue Tampa, FL 33613
ARTICLE XI – AMENDMENT
The right to amend or repeal any provisions contained in these Articles of Incorporation, or any amendment to them, including those matters set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 617 is reserved to the Directors.
ARTICLE XII – CIVILIAN LEADERSHIP
Support Our Troops was founded by civilians as a moral obligation of those of us who are not serving, to those of us who do; it is civilians voluntarily offering what is morally owed. It is not them asking or reminding, it is us freely offering. It is not them looking to us for what is due, it is us looking amongst ourselves and offering to them what is morally owed.
No one can motivate a group like one of its own. This is why it is important that the key leadership be principally comprised of those who have not served in the military. The organization will of course have directors, officers, and advisors who have served in the military. This is important for understanding and interfacing with the military and veterans groups. But the key figurehead positions need to be filled with highly motivated and talented Americans who have never served in the military and can look their fellow civilians in the eye and have a peer-to-peer discussion about what we should do for those who are serving.
ARTICLE XIII – IRC 501(c)(3) QUALIFICATION
The incorporator and the initial directors are citizens of the United States.
The corporation is organized exclusively for charitable purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to, its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in the paragraph immediately above and Article III. No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the corporation shall not, except to an insubstantial degree, engage in any activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of the purposes of the corporation.
Upon a dissolution of the corporation, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by a Court of Competent Jurisdiction of the county in which the principal office of the corporation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.
15. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW ATTORNEYS
Support Our Troops, Inc. is privileged to be represented by the law firm of Greenberg & Lieberman, an Intellectual Property Law Firm. They are registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They are located in Washington, DC.
Their help in establishing Support Our Troops Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights is greatly appreciated.
Greenberg & Lieberman
1425 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
More information on their services can be seen at their website http://aplegal.com/
16. NONPROFIT TAX LAW ATTORNEYS
Support Our Troops® is fortunate to be represented by the law firm of GrayRobinson, P.A., in the complex nonprofit tax issues involved in the activities in which we engage on behalf of America’s troops and their families.
Gray | Robinson
301 E Pine St Ste 1400
Orlando, FL 32801-2741
17. UNIFORM CHARITY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT
Some states require certain notices to be posted by chartable organizations. These statements are noticed as follows:
Support Our Troops® is a 501(c)(3) organization, gifts to which are deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Donations benefit the programs of Support Our Troops as posted on this website. Donations are 100% tax deductible per the IRC when no goods or services were received to you as a result of your gift.
The latest registrations are located on the www.SupportOurTroops.org site under each state’s page. (Each state has a different month for renewal of Charity registrations, and that makes it very difficult to keep all of the individual annual certificates posted on this site up to date, because we have to do so piecemeal through that year. The certificates are posted here for quick reference. Please do not assume that an outdated certificate means the registration is lapsed. Instead, check the state website or contact us.)
A copy of the latest financial report and registration filed by this organization may be obtained by contacting Support Our Troops at P. O. Box 70, Daytona Beach, FL 32115-0070, or by using the contact information for each state provided on the state page of the website, or contacting any of the state agencies which also require the following notices:
- California: Support Our Troops financial statement is available upon request to Support Our Troops. 100 percent of your gift may be deducted under federal and state income tax laws.
- Colorado: Colorado residents may obtain copies of registration and financial documents from the office of the Secretary of State, (303) 894-2680, http://www.sos.state.co.us re Reg. No.20053010841.
- Florida: FLC# CH18766. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL FREE WITHIN THE STATE, 1-800-435-7352. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.
- Georgia: Upon request, Support Our Troops will provide a full and fair description of this and its other programs, and a financial statement or summary.
- Kansas: The annual financial report for [name of charity], Reg. no. 387-647-1 and 388-864-1 for the preceding fiscal year is on file with the Secretary of State.
- Maryland: For the cost of copies and postage: Office of the Secretary of State, State House, Annapolis, MD 21401. Maryland Support Our Troops, Inc..
- Michigan: MICS# 34992.
- Minnesota: 100 percent of your gift may be deducted as a charitable contribution under Federal and state income tax laws. Donations benefit the programs of Support Our Troops as posted on this website.
- Mississippi: The official registration and financial information of Support Our Troops may be obtained from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office by calling 1-888-236-61 67. Registration by the Secretary of State does not imply endorsement.
- New Jersey: INFORMATION FILED WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CONCERNING THIS CHARITABLE SOLICITATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY BY CALLING (973) 504-6215. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT. New Jersey Support Our Troops, Inc.
- New York: Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.
- North Carolina: Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at (888) 830-4989. The license is not an endorsement by the state.
- Pennsylvania: The official registration and financial information of Support Our Troops may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.
- Virginia: State Division of Consumer Affairs, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, P.O. Box 11 63, Richmond, VA 23218.
- Washington: Charities Division, Office of the Secretary of State, State of Washington, Olympia, WA 98504-0422, 1-800-332- 4483.
- West Virginia: West Virginia residents may obtain a summary from: Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, West Virginia 25305.