“Incubator” for Non-Exempt Grassroots Animal Welfare Projects | Chappy & Friends

chappy and friends incubator for non-exempt grassroots animal welfare projects

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 121 - Chappy & Friends

“Incubator” for Non-Exempt Grassroots Animal Welfare Projects | Chappy & Friends

Want professional backing that lets you focus on your passion for animals?

Chappy & Friends is your answer.

Founded by Robert Bills, Chappy & Friends is a 501(c)(3) umbrella organization that ignites grassroots animal welfare projects.

They primarily do this through sponsorships, where they “lend” their tax-exempt status for these individual projects’ fundraising purposes.

According to Robert,

I saw a corollary between an organization [during my theatre days] that went and found out small theater companies or artists doing public works. Then they bring them under their wings so they can raise money on a tax-deductible basis. And once I saw that, I thought that would work with people in animal welfare on the front lines.”

Chappy & Friends as an Incubator for Animal Welfare

Chappy & Friends as an animal welfare incubator

As someone who has been in theatre in his younger years, Robert played with Amy Poehler & Tina Fey in The Second City Conservatory.

It was at this time that he saw the “incubator” concept at play and thought it would be beneficial for people in the pet space.

“A lot of people in animal welfare are extremely good at what they do on the front lines. But, they are either afraid of the IRS or don’t want to actually have to go out and get their own 501(c)(3).”

he shared.

There are a lot of things and costs one needs to set up a 501(c)(3) organization and maintain it. Because of this, Robert thought having something like Chappy & Friends would be a great way to help animal welfare organizations.

“I’d say about half the people that we bring in under our wing are on their way to getting a 501(c)(3). But at least, it allows them to raise money in the meantime while getting the paperwork done.”

Robert’s goal through Chappy & Friends is to help everyone who wants to do something for animals and doesn’t know how or can’t afford to get started.

So if you’re a grassroots group aiming to rise up to respond to animal abuse and suffering across the U.S., why not get started with Chappy & Friends?


Learn more about Chappy & Friends!

Visit their website at https://chappyandfriends.org/.

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Robert: Hey, Chris, thanks for having me on today and giving me the opportunity to talk about Chappy & Friends. Really appreciate that.

Chris: Robert, why don’t I let you introduce us?

Robert: Chappy and Friends is sort of an umbrella organization we’re a 501(c)(3)— actually, as a result of being in the theater,  I found there might be a need for an umbrella organization.

I saw a corollary between an organization called Fractured Atlas. What they do is they go out—they find, you know, small theater companies or dance companies or artists doing public works or whatever, and they bring them under their wings, and then they can raise money on a tax-deductible basis.

So, once I saw that I thought: Wow, I bet you that would work with animal—people in animal welfare on the front lines.

A lot of people in animal welfare are extremely good at what they do on the front lines, but they are either afraid of the IRS or they don’t want to actually have to go out and get their own 501(c)(3).

It can be expensive to get set up, and then you have to maintain it, and that’s a big part of it, too. You have to have a—you’ll have to have a board of directors, you have to—also you have to do a 990 at the end of the year.

And oddly enough, even though this is nonprofit, the IRS looks quite dimly on people trying to skirt tax laws and take advantage of the nonprofit status.

So, filling out the tax forms is really pretty crazy. It can be very, very difficult. And I spend more time on that than I do on my personal taxes, yeah.

Chris: You definitely don’t want to mess with the IRS, right. Particularly when it comes to tax evasion and things like that.

So, I guess tell me more. So, you were obviously into improv, into theater. You heard about this concept. You saw this concept at play. Then what brought you to: Hey, somebody needs to do this for animal welfare.

Robert: So, I’ve always been—I’ve really developed that sense of myself. And when I saw this going and thought that it might apply to animal welfare, I thought about: Okay, it’s like disparate spread out all over the country, little organizations that need help either getting going.

I’d say about half the people that we bring in under our wing are on their way to getting a 501(c)(3), but it allows them to raise money in the meantime while that all gets processed.

And there’s an expense, of course, to getting set up. 

Chris: It’s a great way for organizations that even if they do plan to do this on their own as you said, it’s kind of like a temporary thing because the IRS, I know they get backed up at times, and sometimes they’d sit late 10 months before they can actually process applications.

Robert: Exactly.

So, some people know where they’re going already in that respect, that’s fine with us. We’ll sort of be a springboard for them, incubator, if you will.

The other side of it is we have some organizations we are coming up on four years now. We have some organizations that have been with us virtually the whole four years.

Chris: I think it’s fascinating that you were a bond trader, tax guy, and improv guy, right.

Now, this new idea— So, tell me more about the name. Where did the name Chappy & Friends come from?

Robert: Oh, yeah. Thanks for asking that.

I’m proud to talk about Chappy. Chappy is a—we think he’s a havapoo—havanese poodle. He was a—at a shelter downtown.

We had a cat already, and we decided we were going to look into getting a dog. We went to the shelter and we spent some time with him and we decided we wanted to be sure we did the right thing for the cat.

And I called the shelter and she kind of fumbled around and you know, was trying to get some tag numbers together, whatever.

And she said: Yeah, no, he’s been adopted. Okay, well, that makes me feel fine. I drove back by. I just said, because they have some big windows. I pulled up and there you go.

He’s still in his cage, yeah. And I’m like, okay, that dog is coming home with us. He was named Chaplin at the shelter, but we shortened it. Chappy, we call him.

Chris: It’s definitely a very fitting name for the organization. So, what does the future look like? Where do you take this, Robert? How big do you want to grow this?

Robert: I don’t think it would get that big, probably. But I think to get to 200 to 500 projects would be certainly very doable.

And so that’s our goal. I think that’s probably about, you know— 7 to 10-year goal, maybe 3 or 400 projects.

But I’d like to get to— be great to get to 100 projects over the next 3 to 5 years.

Chris: I mean, that’s great. So I mean, to your point, it’s more than just people that are doing the animal rescue.

I mean, there’s anything related to animals is really what it sounds like, anything that’s charitable and related to animals.

Robert: I’m looking to add people that would like to be the “Friends of a Shelter” kind of organization.

Because a lot of shelters are government county here, usually county shelters, and they can’t raise money.

So, that’s why these friends of organizations pop up. And there are some very, very effective ones. We have a good one in Chicago, and there’s a really great one out in L.A., and they’re all over.

Chris: No, I like that. I like the fact that you’re looking at all the different ways, kind of like I am all the ways that people help animals.

And that’s really the central core and focus of Chappy & Friends and what you’re trying to do. So, Robert, if people want to learn more, right. I mean, tell them again the website where they can go.

You said there’s a bunch of FAQs and things like that where they can learn.

Robert: Absolutely, yeah.

So, just CHAPPYANDFRIENDS.ORG send me an email or give me a call or very excited to hear from people that want to help animals.

That’s what we do.

Chris: I love it. I think it’s really cool what you’re doing, Robert. I really love the vision and where you’re headed.

So, certainly, we want people to go check it out, learn more. If they want to support any of the causes as well, I’m sure they can certainly make a donation as well.

Robert: And if you just want some ideas, go to our website, go to the projects, and click on projects. You can see all the people that have been projects of ours, the different people organizations, the ideas people have had and the things that they’re doing and you can learn more about them and then donate to them too.

Chris: Very cool.

As I wrap up the show here, I love to remind our viewers and listeners. I mean, Robert is a classic example—he’s only had a very nontraditional animal rescue background. But he knew that he was passionate about helping animals and so he took his idea and now he’s bringing it to life in Chappy & Friends and look at what he’s going to be able to do.

So, maybe he’s been sitting on an idea for a product or service or something that like Robert is going to help others to help animals. We’d love to know about it.

So, go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and apply to come on the show so we can talk about it and share your idea with everyone.

And don’t forget to sign up to be a Dooberteer just go to DOOBERT.COM where you can sign up to help thousands of animals. You can be a transporter. You can be a foster. There’s so many things you can do to help animals.

So Robert, thank you again for coming on. Really appreciate it.

Robert: Thanks, Chris, and thanks for getting the word out about innovators in animal welfare.

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