Weirdos- We have something BIG to celebrate!!! On October 18th, 2019, we got official news that the Weirdo Cat Lovers of Cleveland had been approved as a Nonprofit organization, achieving 501(c)3 status. So, you might be asking, what does that mean?
By definition- "Nonprofit means the entity, usually a corporation, is organized for a nonprofit purpose. 501(c)(3) means a nonprofit organization that has been recognized by the IRS as being tax-exempt by virtue of its charitable programs." (Google.com)
The journey to our nonprofit status has been in the works for a little while. Weirdo Cat Lovers of Cleveland started back in 2016. At first, the group mostly got together to share funny cat memes and cute photos of our own cats. Soon, members began sharing their own experiences with health and behavioral issues and would offer advice to one another on how to take on some of those problems. Leadership saw the need for sharing resources for members to turn to for affordable vet care. As membership numbers grew for the group, Leadership now saw that many members not only needed emotional support for some of their cats' health or behavioral problems, but could also use financial help sometimes, too. This lead to Leadership organizing ways to raise emergency funds for members in need of financial assistance. After a few emergency posts, it was apparent that WCLOCLE wasn't just a Facebook group. It was a community of cat lovers who have hearts of gold who do not think twice when they see a member and their cat in need. Donations would come pouring in and in the matter of hours the group had collectively paid an entire vet bill. Although Leadership knew that WCLOCLE had become a charitable organization, we were still unsure about actually applying for official nonprofit status. With persistent, and sometimes not so gentle prodding, Admin Lesley Pontin convinced the Leadership team to go after the dream of becoming official. On April 2, 2019, Leadership filed for 501(c)3 and also filed for WCLOCLE to be an official business. Unfortunately, a few snags were encountered with the filing being done and at the beginning of October we got word that the submission was not properly filed. So, Leadership had to go a different route and filed on our own online. On October 18, 2019, we received that glorious letter telling us we had been approved!!!
Now that we have been officially recognized as 501(c)3, what does that mean for the future of our group? Well, first off, it means we can help even more members and their cats. We can now apply for government grants that could provide us with funds we can use for our members' needs! We are also tax-exempt now, so we can get more with the money we have. We can also set up special wishlists with places like Amazon.
So, as a member of WCLOCLE, what does that mean for you when you decide to send us a donation? Well, it means that your donation to us can be filed in your taxes as a charitable donation! It also means that if your workplace has something set up so that they'll match employee's personal donations, then we qualify! It also means if your workplace will set up your paycheck so you can make donations straight out of your paycheck, we would qualify!
For total transparency, here are all of the things that your donations could be used for: vet services, (this includes anything the vet says is necessary to properly treating the cat- blood work, x-rays, scans, biopsies, surgeries, etc); medications that are given at the vet's office during the visit, or medications that will be taken home to be administered; supplies for members that are in temporary financial crisis and need things like litter, food, or treats for their cats; supplies that are bought off of wishlists for rescues; TNR fees for spay/neuter at the Cleveland APL; sending condolence cards to members who have lost a beloved cat; and helping to cover costs for euthanasia, cremation, and returning ashes to the cat member's family.
It is safe to say that every penny that is donated by each and every lovely WCLOCLE member is important to our cause. We appreciate every 17,929 of you!! Without our amazing members, we could not do what we love- helping the cats!! We hope we continue to make you proud and that you continue to follow along with us on this new leg of our journey! We have so many big ideas and cannot wait to unveil them all to you!
During all the of excitement and celebration on 10/18, I asked the Leadership team to tell me what it personally meant to them to achieve this honorable status. To close, I shall leave you with the comment from Lesley Pontin, WCLOCLE's Senior Admin. Said, as I can only assume in her most regal and British tone, "It's been a long road to here, I joined more than 2 years ago and in that time we have gone from cat memes to actually doing good in the community. After 2 years, this is really the START of the ideas I have."