Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On Incorporation

There seems to be some confusion about incorporation of nonprofits.  It's a complicated subject involving tax law, so I thought I'd write up something to explain the issues at hand:

There are two kinds of non-profits relevant to activist groups.  If you want to be a 503(c)3, generally it's because you want donations to you to be tax deductible so you can offer that as a perk to donors and get more money.  For example, organizations like WREN and the Sierra Club are 503(c)3 nonprofits.  However, 503(c)3's are required by law to be limited in their political activity.  They can't be involved in ANY way with political campaigns, and while they can support issues and work in a nonpartisan way, they can't have a substantial part of their overall activities relate to influencing legislation or similar activities.  Obviously, that wouldn't work for our needs - we're here to influence legislation and get good progressive candidates elected!  So we can't incorporate as a 503(c)3.

A 503(c)4 nonprofit CAN do political work, and some activist groups do incorporate as a 503(c)4 or exist as the 503(c)4 arm of a 503(c)3.  However, donations to a 503(c)4 are NOT tax deductible.  That means there's no benefit to the donors to give to a 503(c)4.  The only reason to spend the money and time to incorporate as this kind of nonprofit is if you're bringing in enough donations that you've got a revenue stream to speak of.

Greater Columbia Action Together has approximately the revenue stream of your grandmother's sewing circle.  We are, however, even more transparent than Meemaw's get togethers because you know she don't give out her cookie recipes.  Here is a full and complete accounting of all of our financials:

We have 77.90 sitting in my husband's Zazzle account that's income from the t-shirts he designed for us.  That money will probably go towards our May Education Rally.

The March for Science GoFundMe brought in 1257.86 after GoFundMe's cut.  1243.98 went to Sound & Images for our PA system, chairs, etc.  71.46 went to Regal Prints for posters. 50 went to photography.  Sadly, the definition of "nonprofit" is not "group that doesn't make any money" - Michelle Edgar generously donated from her personal funds to make up the difference.

We took in some donations at our Wine and Writes; we bought postcard stamps.

Because we're not incorporated, we don't have a board.  We do have a leadership team, which is made up of me, Michelle Edgar, Autumn Perkins, Jane Dobreski, and Courtney Rounds.  We are a women-led organization.  We are always available to answer any questions you might have. I'd say the door to my office is always open, but I do most of my work for this organization sitting on my couch in my pajamas while my toddler watches PJ Masks. 

We also have a postal address.  We rented a PO box  because you are legally required to list a physical address on all mass e-mails and we felt it was a bad practice to use one of our personal addresses, in case the political climate worsens even further in the future.  Michelle pays for that, too.  You'll see it on the bottom of every e-mail I send you from MailChimp.  When we needed postcards, I bought them.  When we needed water and ice for the March for Science, everybody stopped by Publix on their way there.  When we did Wine and Writes, people brought wine.  We use free spaces to gather, free services like Blogger and MailChimp to get the word out, and the generosity of my husband Wallace for our graphic design.

All of our rallies and events at public locations like the State House that require permits for legal protests have been and will always be properly permitted.  When you attend one of our events, you know there will never be a question of whether we are legally allowed to be there. 

If in the future we start bringing in enough money that we have overages from events or general funds hanging around, we will incorporate.  Until then, we are a grassroots activist group like many other grassroots activist groups, few of which are incorporated.  Like your grandma's sewing circle, we are an all volunteer organization working together, and most of what we do is funded by people just pitching in.  And like your grandmother's sewing circle, we stay woke!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Action Items: Week of November 30

Stop this ridiculous tax cut!

This tax bill is a nightmare for the average American and an enormous giveaway for large corporations and the wealthy. This week, please take some time from your schedule to fight its passage in the Senate.

1. Call your senators.

Senator Tim Scott
DC Office: (202) 224-6121
Midlands Office: (855) 802-9355
Senator Lindsey Graham
DC Office: (202) 224-5972
Midlands Office: (803) 933-0112
This script is from Indivisble. 
Hello! My name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling to let [Congressman / Senator] know that I strongly oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This tax bill is a scam that will give massive cuts to the wealthy, paid for by leaving tens of thousands of people in South Carolina uninsured, raising premiums, and raising taxes on middle-class families.
If you'd like to refresh your memory on how disastrous this tax bill is, there are resources here:

2. Complete Graham's survey

You may have gotten a survey from Lindsay Graham in your e-mail asking for your input. It's just one question. Check your e-mail to see if you got a request there (I don't know if there's tracking information that tells Graham's staff where you got the survey) but if you didn't get a message with the subject "I'd like to hear your opinion about tax reform in the Senate" you can also try this link:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Action Items: Week of September 25

1.  Don't think we've won the day yet on healthcare!

The Graham-Cassidy bill has been amended to be even worse - the amendments make it even easier for states to allow substandard coverage, and they include a big fat bribe for Alaska.  Call, call, call - they're expecting you to relax once McCain came in as a "no", but this is NOT over.

Senator Tim Scott
DC Office: (202) 224-6121
Midlands Office: (855) 802-9355

Senator Lindsey Graham
DC Office: (202) 224-5972
Midlands Office: (803) 933-0112
"I'm _____ and I'm a consitutent of Senator ______ calling to tell the senator that I am firmly opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill, with or without amendments.  It represents an economic disaster for the state of South Carolina and a humanitarian disaster for its people."

2.  We stand with Planned Parenthood!

With all that's been going on in the Senate, it's easy to forget about Governor McMaster's August executive order cutting off funding for all healthcare providers connected with abortion clinics. Remember, it's already illegal for tax dollars to pay for abortions.  This order serves only to cut women's access to healthcare. Here's an article from August about the order:

Call McMaster and tell him that you don't support defunding these women's health clinics.

Governor Henry McMaster
(803) 734-2100

"Hi, I'm ______ from _____ and I'm calling to tell the governor I strongly oppose any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood or any other women's health provider for political gain.  These clinics provide women with cancer screenings, birth control, and health education, and I will fight any action that harms South Carolina's women."

3.  Support the DREAM Act!

Attend a concert at the State House on Friday, September 29 from 5-9, sponsored by Appleseed Legal Justice Center, to support and raise awareness for the DREAM Act.  Rock out to Space Coke and The Haves while making your voice heard for young immigrants.  See the Facebook invitation here:[%7B%22mechanism%22%3A%22bookmarks%22%2C%22surface%22%3A%22bookmarks_menu%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%22[]%22%7D%2C%7B%22surface%22%3A%22dashboard%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22calendar_tab_event%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%22[]%22%7D]%2C%22ref%22%3A46%2C%22source%22%3A2%7D

4. If you live in District 70 and have an opinion about the roads you drive on, speak up!

Representative Wendy Brawley of District 70 (southeast Richland County and west Sumter County) will be holding a town hall on roads on Thursday, September 28 at 6:30 at Hopkins Park.  Please see the Facebook invitation here:[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%2C%22mechanism%22%3A%22main_list%22%2C%22extra_data%22%3A%22%7B%5C%22page_id%5C%22%3A1822518011330338%2C%5C%22tour_id%5C%22%3Anull%7D%22%7D]%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D

Monday, September 18, 2017

Action Items: Week of September 18

Deja vu, all over again!

Here we go again!  Everybody's favorite emotional rollercoaster, Lindsey Graham, has put us in this particular mess again.  The Graham-Cassidy bill is just as catastrophic to American healthcare as the previous repeal attempts, and it's sneakily close to a vote.  It's claimed that the Senate is within a few votes of passage.  For more information on this harmful bill:

So what are we doing about it?

1.  Call your senators.  Yes, Graham too.

Senator Tim Scott
DC Office: (202) 224-6121
Midlands Office: (855) 802-9355

Senator Lindsey Graham
DC Office: (202) 224-5972
Midlands Office: (803) 933-0112

"Hi, I'm _____ and I'm Senator ______'s constituent from _______.  I'm calling to let the senator know that I am against the Graham-Cassidy bill because it will leave many South Carolinans without healthcare or with inadequate healthcare that doesn't cover their needs and has no lifetime cap.  I'm especially against any plan that will leave healthcare without funding after 2026, which is stunningly irresponsible."

2.  Attend the events planned for this week

Indivisible Midlands has a Facebook event for a week of action against this bill:

Their tentative schedule is:

11:30 am -12:30 pm Tim Scott Office Visit/ Street Phone Bank
Where: 1901 Main Street (Bank of America building)
Host: Indivisible Midlands

Then head on over to the State House...
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Tell McMaster How SC Feels About His EO
Where: State House
Hosts: Progress South Carolina, WREN, Planned Parenthood

12:00 on - 2:00 pm Die-in at Lindsey Graham's Office
Where: 508 Hampton Street
Host: Indivisible Midlands

6:00 pm - 8:00 We The People
Where: State House
Host: Greater Columbia Action Together

Please try to attend one or all of these events - we all know that when progressives rest on our laurels because we think the fight is over, that's when they sneak around and pass things!

Friday, August 25, 2017

2018 A State of Many Faiths Calendar

Support Interfaith Partners of SC!

Interfaith Partners of SC, a group which fosters understanding and cooperation among the religious groups of our community, our state, and our world, is producing a 2018 calendar featuring information on each of 12 South Carolina religious groups and their important holidays.

Before 8/25/17: $12 donation each
Regular: $15 donation each
Order 10 or more: $11 donation each

Calendars will be mailed (or hand delivered, when possible) to you or your organization when they become available in September.

To order by check, please make your check payable to Interfaith Partners of SC. Write “2018 Calendar” in the subject line and mail it to:

Interfaith Partners of SC
PO Box 5301
Columbia, SC 29205

Questions? Please email IPSC at

Monday, July 3, 2017

Action Items: Week of July 3

1. Call Governor McMaster and tell him to keep our voter information private!

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, ahahahahaha, is demanding states surrender information about voters including names, addresses, voting history and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.  Call the governor and tell him that is unacceptable.

Governor Henry McMaster

"Hi, I'm a South Carolina resident and I'm calling to let Governor McMaster know that I strongly oppose releasing voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  I believe that voter fraud investigation is a pretext for vote suppression and I demand that South Carolina preserve the sanctity of the secret ballot and refuse to cooperate with this request."

2.  Keep calling those senators about the healthcare bill!

The Senate is in recess, but keep calling those offices!  The GOP is going to try to sneak this one past the same way the House did; keep that pressure up!

Senator Tim Scott
DC Office: (202) 224-6121
Midlands Office: (855) 802-9355

Senator Lindsey Graham
DC Office: (202) 224-5972
Midlands Office: (803) 933-0112

"Hi, I'm ____ and I'm Senator _____'s constituent from ______.  I'm calling to urge the senator to vote against the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act.  This bill would take away 22 million people's health insurance and make drastic cuts to Medicaid.  Two out of every five American children are on Medicaid.  Where, exactly, are these children supposed to get their healthcare?  Rural hospitals are major employers, but this bill could force 12 South Carolina hospitals to close.  Please vote against this inhumane bill."

3.  Attend the American Values Rally for Healthcare

Wednesday, July 5 from 6-8 PM at the South Carolina State House

The day after Independence Day, we will gather in our state's capital at the South Carolina Statehouse to reaffirm our commitment to the true American values: liberty and justice for ALL. This will be a peaceful, family-friendly, and inclusive gathering. Children and pets (on a leash) are welcome. No alcohol, fireworks, or open flames are allowed on Statehouse grounds, but please bring your American flags, 4th of July decorations (balloons, glow sticks, etc), and signs about how you or your family will be affected by this bill.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coalition Coconut Cake

Evidently everybody wants my coconut cake recipe now since we served it at the Coalition Summit last Saturday.  I got it from Martha Stewart, and she got it from Robert Carter of the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, but I've added my real-talk notes in purple italics.  You gotta start it a couple days ahead of time to let the filling sit overnight, and then let the cakes cool completely before you start slicing or frosting.

And yes. Yes that is two and a half pounds of butter.  What, do you want to live forever?  It does make a very large cake, in my defense.

Three days before


5 cups heavy cream - yes, five cups, if this makes you blink you should really stop here because this is not the recipe for you
3 cups sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter - look, did you come to play?
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
9 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Place cream, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. - Martha says medium but trust me, you're gonna want your big pot for this.  You do not want to see what five cups of cream and a pound of butter looks like when it boils over on your stove.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together cornstarch, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water. Add to cream mixture, bring to a boil, and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. - Ignore this tablespoon of water crap.  That's a trap for the unworthy.  You are not going to be able to mix a tablespoon of water into cornstarch.  Just add as much water as you need until it makes a slurry; you don't want lumps.  If you get lumps anyway, strain 'em out.  Lumps are gross.

Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coconut is finely chopped. Remove cream mixture from heat and stir in coconut until well combined. Transfer to a large baking dish; let cool.
Cover filling with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Just before using, place mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth and creamy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Two days before


Nonstick cooking spray with flour
1 pound unsalted butter, preferably European-style  - ha ha, Martha, you're adorable.  You don't need fancy butter but you do want it at least a little softened so your mixer doesn't do that thump thump thump thing.
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream - go big or go home!
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 10-inch round cake pans with cooking spray; set aside. - I don't have ten inch pans; my smaller ones work fine with a little added time.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl using a spatula.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix together cream, vanilla, and coconut extract. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. - Then clean up the giant mess you made with the flour.  

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing cakes from pans. COMPLETELY.  Then throw them in the fridge overnight before you even think about putting your cake together.  You don't have time because it has to be done today?  You should have paid attention to my timeline.  I am ashamed.

Simple Syrup

You can make this stuff at any time, it keeps forever in your fridge

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

Place water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

One day before

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature  - What, Madge, no fancypants butter this time?
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped  - Nice if you have it, but it's fine without

Place butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until creamy.

With mixer on low speed, slowly add vanilla extract, seeds from vanilla bean, and confectioners' sugar. Continue beating until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut flakes
2 Coconut Cake
Simple Syrup
Coconut Filling
Coconut Cake Frosting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread coconut flakes in an even layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden, 5 to 7 minutes; set aside to cool. - It will probably take longer than that - you have to watch it like a hawk to keep it from burning.  Stir it some too.

Do NOT assemble your cake in a hot kitchen.  Definitely do not, for example, run out of counter space and assemble it on the stove surface on top of the oven you just used to toast coconut in.  Your icing will slump off your cake and it will look like it has a skin condition.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level; discard trimmings.- Fool!  Eat the trimmings.  Cut each cake into 3 even layers. - Usually I would tell you to use dental floss to cut the layers, because it's easier than using a knife, but  floss didn't even make a dent in these cakes.  It's okay if they're all cattywampus, nobody will know once you're finished.  Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. - This is so when you decorate your frosted cake with the toasted coconut you can remove the excess with the parchment.  If you've got a setup where it doesn't matter you can skip that step.

Place one layer on the cake plate. Brush with about one-fifth of the simple syrup. Spread over 2 cups of filling. Place a second layer on top.- If you break a layer, just shove it into place and dump some filling on it.  Seriously, nobody cares.  Repeat process with the next four layers and top with last remaining layer.

This will NOT FIT in a standard Tupperware Cake Taker.  Don't come crying to me when the top half slides off because you took a turn too hard and your cake was in a cutoff Amazon box; I warned you.

Spread top and sides of cake with frosting, keeping in mind you may not need to use all of it. - AHAHAHAHA you so crazy, M.  Press toasted coconut into sides of cake; remove parchment paper strips. Chill cake at least 5 hours and up to 5 days. Slice immediately; bring to room temperature before serving.