To our community,
Before CPP became incorporated as a 501(c)(7) in 2018, the community adopted a tier-membership structure: General Members are anyone that attended a single CPP event. Associate Members are individuals that attended multiple CPP events in a year (only permitting one bar event for attendance accumulation). Full Members are individuals that attended multiple CPP events in a year (only permitting one bar event for attendance accumulation) and volunteered at events.
While this system was relevant at the time, it caused challenges for organizing membership as more events/meet-up's were created, Full and Associate Membership was based on tedious attendance requirements, and General Membership grew to over 500+ worldwide (with no way to consistently record which Members wanted to remain active vs opt to inactive).
Leading up to CPP's incorporation, the ~200 individuals that were routinely active community found the benefit of moving to a simplified membership structure and we have discontinued the use of General, Associate, and Full Member titles.
CPP now recognizes two primary levels of involvement: Members and non-Members. The non-member community is the collective support and/or attendance of anyone 18 and older that wants to be involved with CPP in any capacity. Our community is diverse and widespread. We accept anyone and everyone that wants to be considered part of our community. Members are individuals that attending one or more event in a year and annually contribute to our financial obligations by paying dues and dedicating time to assist with CPP operations. (While Membership must remain limited, dues are in no way meant as an exclusionary measure; therefore a grant option available for anyone unable to afford dues and is willing to assist CPP through volunteer hours. The amount of service hours is determined at the discretion of that year's Board though is anticipated to be less than 10 hours each year.)
After multiple town halls, several Board meetings, and consultations with outside sources, CPP settled on a 501(c)(7) incorporation. 501(c)(7)'s are considered ideal for social clubs and fit within the goals we have as a community education and social organization. Part of being a legally incorporated 501(c)(7) is that membership must be "limited" meaning not everyone can become a member at will. Limiting membership through dues is the most widely used method. What many may not realize is that in order to maintain the quality of events it has, the CPP has stayed afloat the last few years through the generosity of but a few members and personal funds of board members. While those folks are more than happy to contribute to what we are trying to do, and will likely continue to do so, we want all members to have a stake in ensuring protections for all members are preserved. The amount of liability and tax issues the CPP was potentially open to was daunting, though no immediate issues were assessed. We are taking measures to make sure that CPP is protected now and in the future.
Your dues will go directly to mandatory corporation tax and legal filings, consultation fees with a lawyer and accountant, liability insurance to cover Members and Board Members, catering and supplies for Member events, maintaining a quality community presence on the web, Member gifts/perks, and other operational expenses incurred with maintaining a social club.
We are very excited to be driving this process for our membership and greater community. While we would like to say we can do everything, we will always need help, and we will always need feedback. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to the whole Board at Feedback@ChicagoPuppyPatrol.org.
Yours in Service,
The 2018 Chicago Puppy Patrol Board