frequently asked questions.
What can I do to help my neighborhood?
Neighborhood associations are at the forefront in improving our cities. You can help your neighborhood by attending the meetings regularly, volunteering to serve on the board or a committee, take an active role in promoting the association's successes to your neighbors, and be part of the solution and not the problem.
How do I start a neighborhood association?
You must first believe that your community can benefit from having an association. This can be determined by identifying an issue that is affecting residents, or by noting potential problems in the absence of a collective, unified voice. Second, you need 2-4 addi tional residents who share your interests and are willing to build support for the association amongst others in the neighborhood; this group is also responsible for planning the first meeting. Set a realistic goal for attendance. The more residents recruited, the easier delegation of work becomes. However, the cultivation of members should not be rushed. With enough members, you can adopt bylaws and elect a board in a timely manner.
How do people find out whether there is a neighborhood association in their area?
Click here for neighborhood assocations search in your area. If you are not successful with that tool, call us. We can locate your address on our neighborhood map, contact person, and phone number of the association nearest you. If there isn't an active association near your location, we will assist you in organizing your own neighborhood association. For those groups outside of the Omaha area, there are no directories published for public use. However, you can encourage your community development department to compile such a directory.
What if the boundaries of my neighborhood association overlap the boundaries of another?
We discourage overlap because it causes confusion for the public inquiring about the association for their area. We encourage communication between associations to come up with mutually agreed upon boundaries.
How do I know if a neighborhood watch is more suitable to my group's needs than an association?
The purpose of a neighborhood watch is to make people aware of the steps they can take to make their home more secure against crime, to show them how they and their neighbors can help each other protect the entire neighborhood, and to make law enforcement agencies more effective in the fight against crime through their involvement and participation. If criminal activity is not a major issue in your neighborhood or in surrounding areas, yet other issues such as housing, unemployment, and inadequate public services are at the forefront, then you may want to consider starting a neighborhood association.
What is the difference between a neighborhood and homeowner associations?
Neighborhood associations are generally a group of residents and others stakeholders that volunteer to improve and enhance the well-defined, geographic area where they live or work. The neighborhood association meeting is a time to exchange ideas, decide on projects and priorities, proposed solutions, and make plans affecting the neighborhood. Homeowners associations are groups of homeowners who live in an area built by the same developer, usually referred to as a subdivision; formed for the purpose of improving or maintaining the quality of the area. Homeowners associations usually have a formally elected body and are governed by deed restrictions-a set of rules that the buyer agreed to when they purchased the home. These rules or covenants, often govern construction regulations, membership/dues requirement, a s well as a wide variety of other issues.
What is the difference between bylaws and articles of incorporation?
Bylaws are the rules that govern a group. Generally, bylaws are only meaningful within the community and are only as binding as the community itself makes them. The articles are the primary legal document of a corporation. The articles are filed with the state government to begin corporate existence. Bylaws are not filed with the Secretary of State.
What are the benefits of an organization having a tax-exempt status?
Many organizations see the financial benefits of tax-exempt status. In addition to qualifying for public and private grant money, most nonprofit groups seek the status to obtain exemptions from federal and state income taxes, and therefore can devote a larger proportion of their resources to achieving their particular goals. The status can also be beneficial to those groups who'd like special rates for services such as postage. Also, donors prefer to give c ontributions to these groups because they can deduct their gifts on their own taxes. On the other hand, the IRS restricts lobbying activity, political activity is prohibited, and the organization's activities must be limited to the charitable purpose. Each individual group must weigh the pros and cons of the status carefully in light of their organizational goals and values.
Am I liable for board actions if I hold an office?
Individuals are not liable if the association is incorporated. If your group finds itself the target of a lawsuit, incorporation can provide welcome peace of mind. Incorporation protects the personal liability of group members and officers. That is, their own money, homes, vehicles or other property isn't at risk. That's not true of an unincorporated association. A provision in the bylaws may be included in order to indemnify-to secure against hurt, loss, or damage-board members in the event they are sued as a result of board decisions. Indemnification promises that the corporation will repay the board member for costs of defending themselves in lawsuits and/or for costs of judgments against board members. However, such indemnification is useless if the organization does not have funds available to cover the board member's legal expenses.
What is the difference between being a nonprofit and being tax-exempt?
You must be a nonprofit organization if you want to qualify for tax-exemption, however, your organization is not tax-exempt because you've file for incorporation. In Nebraska and Iowa an organization becomes a nonprofit by filing articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. Upon filing this document, you are able to apply for recognition of exemption with the Internal Revenue Service (Form 1023).
How does my organization become tax exempt?
Once you file your articles of incorporation, your organization becomes a nonprofit. To receive tax-exemption status, your organization must meet three key components under 501 (c) (3) of the IRC: be organized as a corporation, trust, or unincorporated association (articles serves this purpose); be operated with stipulation (such as agreeing to refrain from participation in political campaigns); and have an exempt purpose: charitable, educational, religious, or scientific. Complete Form 1023 if you've met these requirements. The payment required for a determination of exemption is $150 or $500. If your gross receipts are not expected to exceed $10,000 annually, you can qualify for the lower user fee of $150, but you must complete the Certification on Form 8718 in addition to sending the payment.
What is a speaker's bureau?
A speaker's bureau, generally a free service, is a listing of groups or individuals who make presentations to organizations, civic groups, businesses, and neighborhood associations on field related-topics. You can locate a speaker's bureau from a variety of sources such as nonprofit organizations and businesses your group has an interest in learning about. You may start by calling their community relations department. You can also call your local and county governments about speaking about public services.
What are the differences between Neighborhood Watch, Neighborhood Association, and Citizen Patrol?
Click here for a document explaining the differences.