The early part of the year signals the start of racing, pleasing the entire motorsports industry. It also brings tax filing season, which affects racing related businesses. This month we will take a look into the business of non-profits and their impact on community.

Charity and helping others is at the center of the racing communities ethos. Providing support on and off the track and giving back bring joy by being part of a larger initiative.

A foundation can be set up by any individual or organization, including a family, corporation, group of friends, drivers and others. The typical goal is to use the foundation as a way to do good in the community.

There are generally two types of foundations recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Private foundations are funded by an individual, family or corporation. These are endowed or funded by themselves. They allow donors more control over the charitable giving. Funds may be invested and the income distributed as financial grants or operated as related programs or initiative.

Public charities typically raise money from the general public. They raise funds by hosting events that gather contributions for a cause that has been pre-selected.

Bringing positive change takes effort, along with details. Appropriate structure and management is key to maintain the success on a non-profit entity. There are specific rules governing self-dealing that prohibit transactions with related donors or related parties.

The on-going cost for filing annual tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service may be expense. The addition of administrative, legal and risk management costs also add up.

Motorsports related foundations are highly scrutinized. The media and fans closely monitor the entities activities.

Federal and state officials oversee the myriad of regulations that govern the non-profits activities. Compliance and monitoring is an ongoing process.

Drivers offering a helmet or drivers suit for their foundation or charity is a complicated affair. Rules vary by location and governmental license and registration costs can be prohibitive.

Tracks holding a “50-50” may be considered as a fundraising event since it is a game of chance complies with local lottery laws.

Non-profit watchdogs have established guidelines and benchmarks that measure effectiveness. These operating standards cover the financial health and accountability and transparency of the charity. They focus on how the much money is spent on charity work versus administrative costs and the independence of employees and directors.

Operating a charity is a full time business. It is subject to the same business cycle as the motorsports industry and the economy in which it operates. Manufacturers and sponsors may back a drivers charity but as lineups change dollars might not follow.

Motorsports has many entities that provide support and impact a wide range of recipients and initiatives.

The NASCAR Foundation was founded in 2006 and gives thru the Speediatrics Fund to help children in need. The annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award recognizes a fan who dedicated volunteer working on behalf of children’s causes.

Speedway Children’s Charities provides funding for hundreds of non-profit organization’s that meet the direct needs of children. The local chapters at Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks work directly with communities on learning disabilities, cancer and other areas.

The Kyle Petty Charity Ride started with motorcycles traveling coast to coast. Twenty five years strong it has raised millions for the Victory Junction Camp which enriches the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening diseases.

There are many other team and driver specific charity foundations and events that support causes near and dear to their hearts. The racing community’s positive reach is felt far beyond the track.