Steps to start a new Lake Association

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Lake property owners appreciate the experience of living on Minnesota lakes.  There are innumerable independent and personal reasons people will give why they live on lakes.  One article gives general reasons: 7 Reasons People Like Lake Living.  They form relationships with their lakes and invest their time and energies in preserving them for themselves and future generations.

Behind a significant effort to protect lakes is lake property owner engagement.  The front line of effort in safeguarding a desired lake experience is conscious lake stewardship.

Components of a Successful Lake Stewardship Program describes why lake property owners should join together to accomplish lake stewardship goals.  This is done through lake property owner activism, organization and compilation a trend analysis of water quality data: Components of a Successful Lake Stewardship Program.  Usually the best course is to establish a lake Association.

To organize lake property owners for the purpose of starting an Association, the first step is for a core of individuals to visit with friends and neighbors around the lake to gauge the level of interest in forming an Association and to get input on the desired purpose and personality of such an organization.

When forming a new Lake Association it is good recognize some basic principles of a Member-based organization. These principles can be modified as appropriate for the Members. Four Organizational Corner Posts for the organization can be helpful to be observed to give backbone to the organization

If sufficient interest is determined, the next step is to contact all of the lake property owners on the lake introducing the idea and inviting them to be included in the effort.  This is commonly accomplished by obtaining a mailing list from the County used for tax statements.  Address data can be requested for only those property owners on the lake.  A letter is sent to all lake property owners introducing the idea and inviting them to an Organizational Meeting and requesting contact information.  Email addresses are requested most often to offer the opportunity to keep people informed in the easiest and least costly way as possible.  When responses to the letter are received, names, telephone numbers and email addresses are compiled.  Using a spreadsheet for this purpose is most effective because broadcast emails can be made directly from the spreadsheet.

The next step is the holding of an Organizational Meeting.  All lake property owners who have responded to the letter and all who might have heard of the meeting should be welcome to take part in the meeting.  At the discretion of the organizers other non-lake property owner stakeholders may also participate.  At the meeting presentations can be made from organizers describing originally conceived purposes and personality of the Association as well as address the role of an Association as Member controlled and not directly controlled by County or State Agencies.

Assuming a consensus is obtained from the Organizational Meeting attendees, the group may begin to determine who will be included as Incorporators.  Also, a unique name for the Association needs to be created.

To be formally recognized by the state of Minnesota an Articles of Incorporation must be filed with the MN Secretary of State.  The application for the MN Articles of Incorporation will include identification of one or more Incorporators and an original Minnesota mailing address.  The application can be submitted online and will result in receiving a certificate with authentication.

Also commonly determined at the Organizational Meeting is election of a Board of Directors and Officers.  Officer elections will include President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.  The Offices of Secretary and Treasurer can be combined to be the same person.

Also at the Organizational Meeting a committee can be formed to establish a set of Bylaws and other organizational management documents.  Templates for such documents are included in the Administration – Organization Creation menu.  These templates can be modified to suit the individual needs and personality of the new organization.

Most often Associations apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS.  This is accomplished by filing as a 501c3 or 501c4 charitable organization.  First step in obtaining either of these IRS classifications is to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).  Once the EIN number is received from the IRS a 1023-EZ is filed with the IRS.  For assistance in filing for Federal tax-exempt status contact  [email protected].

In setting up the on-going management of activities of the Association a bank account needs to be established.