What is StandWatch.org?
StandWatch.org is a 501c3 non-profit corporation, established in September 2015, that helps veterans, young people, and community leaders develop projects that make communities better.
Where Did The Idea Come From?
As a veteran and someone who worked in the defense sector for close to 17 years, our CEO, Zac Northup, is keenly aware of the issues that affect men and women in uniform. After the 2015 Veterans Administration IG report was made public, he felt moved to do something, but a specific plan was elusive. Later that week, Zac was watching a YouTube video series called Expedition Overland. In episode seven, a group of veteran doctors and medics used modified four-wheel drive vehicles to travel to a remote village in Central America to provide free medical services to villagers. This particular village was often overlooked by other aid organizations due to its remoteness. That’s where the idea for StandWatch came from. Zac texted Dr. Melin Moses that night, and the two sat down the next morning to lay out a plan. When the scale of the concept became more apparent, they asked another friend, Al Conaway, to come on board as Chief Operating Officer. As a three man team, Zac focuses on strategic direction, messaging, and overall operations. Melin is the exclusive decision-maker on all things medical including equipment needs, volunteer staffing for the clinic, and patient care. Al is responsible for turning Zac’s crazy ideas into reality which basically involves nearly every aspect of the operational side of StandWatch.
Over the years, the three founders learned that approximately 20% of veterans across the country need, or want, assistance with the problems they are experiencing. That means that 80% of veterans live their lives free of any significant troubles, and often like to get involved in their communities. This led StandWatch to begin developing programs and initiatives where we provide logistical, organizational, and financial support to any veteran-led project that makes communities better. Simultaneously, we began experimenting with our own expeditions where we team veterans up with students to do physical outdoor challenges, hoping that both groups will learn from the experience. These experiments led us to create StandWatch Academy.
What’s StandWatch’s Goal? Do We Have a Political Agenda?
When we first started, our only goal was to provide medical care and family support services to veterans on the ground in their communities. In particular, we wanted to fill the gap between VA facilities and veterans in rural areas. As we have grown, however, we have discovered that our experience provides us with insight into a broad range of public policy issues. Looking for a way to utilize this capability, we found an article from Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, which stated:
“High-impact organizations may start out providing great programs, but they eventually realize that they cannot achieve large-scale social change through service delivery alone. So they add policy advocacy to acquire government resources and to change legislation. Other nonprofits start out by doing advocacy and later add grassroots programs to supercharge their strategy.”
“Ultimately, all high-impact organizations bridge the divide between service and advocacy.”
To that end, we created a separate 501c4 social welfare political organization called StandWatch America. Each organization is entirely separate from the other, including different boards, EINs, bank accounts, and management policies. StandWatch.org will focus exclusively on charitable work. Our advocacy will be done through StandWatch America.
Where Are You Getting Funding?
StandWatch.org will never accept one dime of government money. Frankly, given the amount of effort and time it takes to work through governmental processes and regulations, it’s a lot easier to rely on commercial sector donations.
Is StandWatch.org a 501(c)3 Organization?
We received our 501(c)3 certification letter on January 15, 2016, with an effective date of September 26, 2015. See here.
StandWatch.org is a West Virginia non-profit corporation established in September 2015. We submitted IRS Form 1023 on October 16, 2015. Similar paperwork was filed with the state. According to IRS regulations, we could have delayed submitting Form 1023 for up to 27 months after incorporation, but we wanted to do it immediately. We were thrilled that the IRS only took 90 days to approve and return our application.
As part of our 1023 application, we had to include notes for specific questions. Here is a link to those notes. Additionally, we were required to include a copy of our bylaws. If you really want to see it, email us and I’ll provide you with a signed copy.
If you would like to see a copy of our 2015 990, you can view it here. Because we only raised slightly more than $3000 between September 2015 and year-end ($850 of which was sent to the IRS for our 501(c)3 application), we were only required to file the 990-N form. It was simple and painless. Hopefully, we’ll break $50,000 in revenue in 2016 and our future tax returns be more detailed. It’s a good problem to have.
How Much Must StandWatch Raise?
We have spent a great deal of time and money establishing our 501(c)3 status, accounting procedures, and internal policies so we can have the infrastructure to grow into a self-sustaining nonprofit. We are now in a position to scale operations and meet the need. The only limiting factor is financial resources. It’s really very simple: The more money we have, the more people we can help.
We will be adding more information to this page as more questions come up.