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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 01:47 PM
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Man, we will help you in any way we can. FOBP is a grassroots movement. We did apply for and get a 501C3 status. Making donations to FOBP tax deductible. As far as tax filings and such go, I'll have to ask the guys who are dealing with that portion.

The biggest expenses are Trademarking/Copywrite of your name, then locations costs for classroom sessions. A lot are free, but some have minimal costs. I believe the Oriental theater costs us $100 or $150 for the time we use for the classroom. Swag and such cost money. The biggest expense so far has been the continuing education of our instructors. Everyone has a level I and almost everyone has a done a Level II. I believe the AAIRE guidelines are that people that have done a Level II course are qualified to teach basic avalanche awareness. This is great for on snow. For your class room instructor going a little beyond that is a good idea. There is an educator course for those who are interested in teaching basic avalanche awareness. I believe it's through the American Avalanche Association.

This leads to the other big commitment. Your time. We have a tough time balancing this every year. Last season I think we bit off way more than we should of. The crappy season around here didn't help either. It left several of us drained. So as far as your class room sessions go, I recommend start small. We are sticking to our guns on having around 10 classes a season. I think we are up to twelve for the year, but that is pretty much it for the classroom sessions. The on snow portion is just one weekend. That is it. People ask for more, but you just have to say sorry. This is what we offer, it's free, and it is up to you to take advantage of it. The idea is to teach some basic avalanche skills, let people see what it is all about, and encourage them to take a Level I if it is something they really want to get into.

Fundraising is of course key. Hooking up with some ski movie tours is great. I am pretty sure the Powderwhore guys would be all over this. They are a huge help to us and the fundraising we get from their shows is more than half of our budget for the season. They are also great about getting swag to give away. If you can get two or three other sponsors to throw in some nice items, you can have a great raffle.

I would say you probably want a core group of people around 10 strong to start this off. If you follow the FOBP model, don't be surprised that you'll be desperate for on snow instructors come that weekend. I got into it during the second or third year of FOBP's existence and the first group I took out was over 10.

The other thing to be wary of is Forest Service or other land owner (BLM, Park Service) regulations for you outdoor portion. Around here they are very watchful about people operating without a permit. We can't take any money and we are limited to 75 people a day for the on snow. We have now cycled enough people through that we generally don't hit the limits on this. The first five years though, we were right there. Advertising was another big no at the pass. We got in some trouble over having banners and such. Shame on us.

I am pretty sure I can get you outlines of what we cover for on snow and maybe a presentation for the classroom. Of course you would have to tailor it for the PNW Maritime snow pack versus our continental snow pack. Though I am starting to think that telling people to bring their mountain bikes instead of their avy gear is becoming the norm for this season out here yet again.

I do think this is an awesome idea. Seattle is probably our main obvious target area and as far North as Bellingham. It all depends on how much you want to travel. Fundraising and class room is what eats up most of our time. Then of course there is the commitment of the on snow weekend. Pulling it off is very rewarding and every season I feel pretty good about what we are doing after the on snow is done. The fundraising is a great excuse to throw a party and really brings the BC community together. It is very tight out here in a large part due to our organization.
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