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Dear %%First Name%%,

Leaders ForumTU's 400+ chapters and councils are a veritable innovation engine of ideas that motivate members, build community, increase conservation and education impact and help build strong, sustainable boards.

While your Volunteer Operations Staff is always here to help you think through an idea, connect you to the resources you need and help grow your local chapter, there's nothing better than connecting with your peer volunteer leaders from across the country who are in the trenches just like you.

That's why TU's growing Online Community is such an incredible resource!

Along with the Leaders Forum, which is a private place for you to connect with chapter and council leaders, ask questions and share ideas, we've also now added an Open Forum which brings the entire TU membership community into the fold. So far, 65,000 TU members have been invited into this new community, and we encourage all of you to welcome them and engage in the great conversations taking place.

If you've never logged in to the Online Community, it's easy to do. Just click here and enter your email address and your password – which is your TU membership number. If you have logged in before, but are having trouble use this FAQ section for guidance on resetting your login credentials.

In the Leaders Forum, you will find some powerful discussions on Attracting and Engaging New Members, Celebrating and Recognizing Volunteers and Running Online Auctions, among dozens of others. You can also use the Forum to ask a question of your fellow volunteers, share a success your chapter or council had to help others learn and grow and connect with people who share your passion and dedication to TU in their local community!

Let's harness the power of this great platform to bridge the geographic divide and make TU a stronger, thriving community with the support and guidance of our best and most important resource – our volunteer leaders!

Jeff Yates
Director of Volunteer Operations

COMMUNICATIONS

An Investment in Print Pays Off: Postcard Mailing Training on Feb. 13

An Investment in Print Pays OffIf you build it, they will come.

That old mantra is so often true, and every day our chapters and councils lead amazing events - from conservation projects to youth and family events to fundraisers, film tours and much more. But as all of us know, sometimes it's the same few people attending an event, or volunteering on a trash cleanup standing around, scratching their heads and wondering "Where is everybody else?"

While websites, email and social media have been a boon for our local chapters and councils, providing fast and mostly free ways to get the word out about local events, activities and volunteer opportunities, there's a downside to relying too heavily on electronic-only communications. In today's world, our inboxes are flooded, our mobile devices are humming with notifications and alerts and breaking through all that noise is more difficult than ever.

For example, most TU chapters have a roughly 30% email open rate and for a chapter of 300 members, that means that when an email goes out announcing an upcoming event, only 90 members may even open the message. The other 210 members are left disconnected and unreachable. Facebook posts reach even fewer eyeballs as a member's daily feed of posts is always refreshing.

That's why a comprehensive communications plan is important for your chapter or council to develop and including print communications in that strategy will pay big dividends in helping you boost attendance and participation.

One affordable and easy way to make sure your message reaches your members is to send print postcards by mail, knowing that your important event will make it into the hands of all your members and give you a better shot at attracting them to participate. Thanks to our partners at TicketPrinting.com, who created the TU Event Printshop for our chapters and councils, designing, printing and mailing an attractive and affordable postcard has never been easier.

Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. EST for a special training on Printing and Mailing Postcards to Reach More Members as we demonstrate this powerful product and show you how easy and effective it can be. Click here to register for the training.

Also, be sure to check out all the great trainings coming up – and view recordings on past trainings on topics such as fundraising, chapter and council leadership, membership engagement, youth education and more in our online training library at www.tu.org/training.

REGIONAL RENDEZVOUS

Join Fellow TU Volunteer Leaders and Staff for a Weekend of Conservation and Camaraderie

Regional Rendezvous

pend a weekend at one of our regional rendezvous and you're sure to leave inspired and empowered by learning from and talking with some of TU's most dedicated volunteers, members and supporters as well as staff and scientists. Share ideas and tips on protecting your local waters.

Enjoy hands-on trainings and presentations on important conservation topics such as climate change and native trout as well as workshops designed to help you bring TU's mission to your favorite, local stream.

TU's regional rendezvous are occasions to celebrate all we are accomplishing together and to commit ourselves to the important work ahead. They also offer opportunities for fun and camaraderie with excellent fishing opportunities, evening social activities and networking throughout.

Open to all volunteer leaders, members and supporters, details on the regional rendezvous are available online at www.tu.org/regionals.

Join hundreds of TU members like you at one of these great gatherings:

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT

TU Summer Camps & Teen Summit Applications Are Open!

Youth Engagement

For more than 25 years, volunteers have been directing TU's youth regional camps. The first was in Pennsylvania and now our grassroots network boasts 25 camps across the country. The experience is life-changing for youth, evident in the testimonials from our annual Camp Essay Contest.

Do you know a young angler and conservationist who would be thrilled to learn and grow their skills over the summer? If so, head to www.tu.org/camps to view the camps offered across the country and spread the word in your chapter communications to members! Most camps accept applicants from out-of-state. Get in touch with the directors of each camp to learn more.

The camps include a Fly Fishing 101 curriculum as well as hands-on experience with conservation, with many camps taking part in a habitat restoration project. All experience levels are welcome and the goal is to have fun, learn a lot, and make friends. The camps are also the first step in becoming a teen leader in TU. Camp graduates are encouraged to apply to the TU Teen Summit.

National Leadership Conference: The TU Teen Summit

Are there teens involved with your chapter or council who stand out as passionate and active conservationists and leaders? If so, they may be eligible to attend TU's national Teen Summit, a leadership conference for young men and women from across the country.

Applications for TU's national Teen Summit are available now at www.tu.org/teensummit.

Each year, approximately 25 applicants will be invited to the event based on a grading rubric that includes five criteria: 1) interview 2) leadership potential 3) commitment to conservation/involvement with TU 4) love of the sport and 5) references.

This year's location, near Shenandoah National Park in Syria, Virginia, is an idyllic spot to engage and connect these future TU leaders to a healthy ecosystem and robust watersheds being protected by TU. Teens will participate in a host of local conservation activities, meet with local anglers and scientists, and get lots of time to hang out, tie flies, and go fishing! Contact Tara Granke or Franklin Tate for more information.

TU BUSINESS MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

RepYourWater: A Growing Company That Makes Giving Back A Business Philosophy

RepYourWater HatMaybe you know Garrison and Corinne Doctor. If not, you should. They're the co-founders of a small company in Colorado called RepYourWater.

From the very first, they knew their brand had to be about more than providing creative and unique designs on high-quality apparel and merchandise for people who love the outdoors. So, early in the life of the company, they teamed up with Colorado TU to contribute to the conservation of Colorado fisheries. As the company grew and more people knew about the products, they partnered with more TU chapters and councils.

RepYourWater not only made great gear that promoted those groups and their conservation mission. They gave back a portion of the proceeds to those same groups to further that mission. It was a win-win deal for everyone.

Since 2011, RepYourWater has donated over $40,000 in cash to TU chapters and projects!

They've donated hundreds of products in-kind to TU at every level. They've donated design time and production costs in developing hats and stickers and other merchandise to promote TU campaigns like Embrace a Stream and Save the Smith. They've hosted and sponsored events for their local chapter. They've served in leadership positions with Colorado TU. And they've done it all with the bright, optimistic "glass is at least half full" attitude that characterizes everything they do.

We're proud to say that RepYourWater is a Gold Level TU Business member.

If you know a business that supports local TU efforts, they should be part of the TU Business membership program. Membership is $295, but businesses that donate to local councils and chapters may be eligible for a complimentary one-year membership. For more information, email Walt Gasson, call him at (307) 630-7398 or join Walt for a special online training webinar on Thursday, March 8 at 8 p.m. EST on Engaging Local Businesses to Support Your Work where he'll cover how to attract business support for your local work. Click here to register for the training.

LEADERS ONLY BUSINESS

Don't Forget! Your Chapter and Council IRS form 990N, 990EZ or 990 are due by February 15!

TU is a publicly supported 501(c)3 organized under a group exemption and because of this the IRS requires that each chapter and council have their own employer identification number (EIN) and file their own tax forms with the IRS. If you can't find your chapter/ council EIN, see your recently submitted Annual Financial Report, or contact your Volunteer Operations Staff.

Gross receipts normally ≤ $50,000 = File Form 990-N
Should you prepare it yourself? Yes. It is a very simple form asking for basic information.

Gross receipts < $500,000 = File Form 990-EZ or 990
Should you prepare it yourself? These forms are long and sometimes complex, so get help (from an accountant experienced with non-profit orgs.) if you are not comfortable.

Gross receipts ≥ $200,000, or Total assets ≥ $500,000 = File Form 990
Should you prepare it yourself? These forms are long and sometimes complex, so get help (from an accountant experienced with non-profit orgs.) if you are not comfortable.

Click here for forms and filing instructions from the IRS. If you have questions about the correct Form 990 to file, please contact your Volunteer Operations Staff for more information. Every chapter and council is required to file the appropriate Form by Feb. 15, 2018.

The IRS Form 990 includes several questions focusing attention and governance practices on accountability and transparency. These questions are specifically designed to elicit whether your chapter or council has a written conflict of interest policy, an approved whistleblower protection policy, a document retention policy and a procedure for reviewing the IRS Form 990 prior to filing. All TU chapters and councils large enough to file the Form 990 should have these policies in place. It is advised that regardless of your chapter or council's size, you consider adopting these policies and procedures so as well. Sample policies can be found in the Tacklebox at, http://www.tu.org/riskmanagement.

Testing Begins on New Approaches to TU Membership Renewals

TU continues to work to improve the ways we raise critical funds to support our – and your – work and we are always advised by the feedback and comments of our volunteer leaders. Since there have been many recent discussions on this topic in the Leaders Forum and elsewhere, we wanted to share an effort currently underway to respond to what you've been telling us.

Reduced Renewal Mail Testing – Our membership renewal program is constantly being tweaked to ensure we are most effectively connecting with past members and encouraging them to continue supporting TU's conservation mission. This testing will take place January-April with a variety of tests where we will segment existing members and send them a reduced number of renewal notices.

Based on the results we receive, by this summer we hope to have a better grasp on how reduced mailings impact our response rate and whether we can turn down the volume while still retaining members and raising the important membership dues that keep TU's operations running smoothly.

CALENDAR

All web conference trainings are held at 8 p.m. EST unless otherwise noted. Contact Jeff Yates to register.
Oct 1:
Annual Financial Reports Open
Nov. 15:
Annual Financial Reporting Deadline

IT'S IN THE TACKLEBOX

The online leader Tacklebox – www.tu.org/tacklebox – offers a wide range of resources and guides for chapter and council leaders. Some of the most often used resources include:

TRAINING VIDEOS

The online leader Training Video Library – www.tu.org/training – has recordings of past online trainings, as well as a some simple "how to" videos designed to help volunteers access the online tools available to them. The training videos include:

IMPORTANT TU POLICIES

Chapter & Council Contract Guidelines
TU chapters and councils routinely enter into contracts to further their conservation work. Many of those contracts, especially those involving stream-improvement or other construction work, have risks for the chapter or council involved and, in some instances, for the national organization, as well. In 2013, the Board of Trustees adopted a policy and prepared a correlating guidance document requiring that the following categories of chapter and council contracts be submitted in draft form to Volunteer Operations staff for review:
1. Any proposed contract under which a chapter or council agrees to indemnify anyone unless the proposed indemnification language limits the indemnification obligations to the acts and omissions of the chapter or council that are covered by TU's insurance.
2. Any proposed contract involving the removal or repair of any dam, any work on abandoned mines, and any work on possibly polluted sites.
3. Any proposed contract with a federal agency when the amount of the contract is $100,000 or more.
4. Any proposed contract with a state agency.
5. Any proposed contract involving a public road or highway or involving a railroad right of way.
For contracts involving uninsured or excessive risk, the Board of Trustees has formalized a process for review involving senior staff and members of the Legal/ Risk Management Committee. To review this process document or to download a copy of the "Contract Guidance for TU Chapters and Councils" document, visit the online Tacklebox, under "Important TU Policies."

Ⓒ 2018 Trout Unlimited - all rights reserved.

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