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I’m sitting here at nearly 3:00 a.m. and I’m not the least bit sleepy. My mind is racing a million miles per hour.

I emailed a person who is supposed to be mentoring me on starting this parent support group, but each time I correspond with her I feel more and more overwhelmed, to the point of tears.

The organization that is sponsoring the support group sent me a guide to starting a parent support group, which I’ve read a couple of times now. I’ve been talking to the regional coordinator who asked me to facilitate the group and I’m getting several very conflicting versions of exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

The regional coordinator is telling me I’m right on top of everything, doing everything I can do right now and that she’s going to set some things up for me, that she can make calls and contacts to help me out, as well as mail my flyers, brochures, etc. out to providers and organizations that offer services to parents of children with special needs.

I sent a letter out, under her supervision, to a local charitable organization, asking for funding for our group. Now we’re waiting for the flyer announcing an organizational meeting to be mailed out and then to see how many respondents we get.

The regional coordinator told me I should ask the mentor if she can offer any suggestions about where to look for funding, so I emailed her tonight, updating her on everything I’ve accomplished thus far.

Once again, as she had done previously, she began talking about the support group as a ‘small business’ and informed me I needed to secure a 501(c)(3) status for the group and an Employment Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. She said I needed these things before soliciting anyone for funding and she wanted to know if I’d set up a separate bank account for the group yet. She suggested a Board of Directors, Secretary, Treasurer, etc.

I immediately started hyperventilating as I read this, as I’d already sent out a request for funding and I certainly don’t have non-profit status for the group, heck, we don’t even have a group yet. Our first flyer hasn’t even gone out yet, we’ve gotten no real commitment from anyone as far as helping out with the group, attending meetings regularly, etc. I’ve been at this for about two weeks now and to my knowledge I’m the only one that has anything tangible accomplished toward the creation and facilitation of the group.

I sat here in the wee hours of this morning emailing the regional coordinator with a series of questions, asking for clarification regarding what the mentor had said. I reread the support group guide looking for any mention of non-profit status, EIN or any other official requirements and couldn’t find anything. The only thing it says is a small section in the back of the packet…

Consider whether or not your group really needs to collect money.

Many groups do not need to handle money. A friendly organization, such as a church or synagogue, is often willing to donate free meeting space and other resources.

You can also ask members to buy and bring specific needs (such as refreshments). Be sure to acknowledge their generosity.

For groups with a minimal need for cash, consider passing a basket for small donations to cover specific costs.

If your group will have expenses large enough to warrant a budget, applying for tax-exempt status may or may not be appropriate. Remember that many people give small amounts to organizations whether or not the gift is tax-deductible.

However, if you are going to be requesting large grants from corporations or foundations, tax-exempt status is required. Be sure to follow all government guidelines established for tax-exempt organizations prior to applying.

I’m more than a little bit confused. I explained to the regional coordinator before agreeing to do this that my health is an issue for me and stress is a great concern. I’m already regretting getting involved, especially since the people who are supposed to be helping and guiding me are giving me conflicting information. I don’t know whether I’m simply not getting all the information or one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing, but it’s getting too complicated.

Have a migraine, have had it since yesterday morning, so it’s time to call it a night, whether I can sleep or not, just need to lie down. Hoping this can be easily resolved.

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