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How Are "research Groups" & Expeditions Legally Organized? I Might Have An Idea...

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Guest shoot1

The BFRO charges $500 for people to join their expeditions, which seems high, but I imagine there are liability/insurance/permit issues involved.

Are most research groups organized in a way that provides legal protection to its members or during expeditions, or are they informal affairs? I originally started this thread because I thought might like to start a local organization in order to pool resources, and I was not sure of the best way to go about doing this. Then I realized it actually doesn't have to be local, it could be some kind of open-source national organization with local meetups/groups. I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in starting something like a Hackerspace - physical locations and open social groups with monthly dues that are used to finance research, expeditions, and equipment. Having a legal structure just seems the best way to go. Has anything like this been done already? Any information, history, or ideas would be much appreciated.

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JiggyPotamus

I know absolutely nothing about how these events are organized, or whether they do in fact have insurance policies. I would think that any organization with that kind of income would want to protect their revenue stream, therefore I could not see them skimping by not paying for insurance, but it is possible I suppose. I'm sure someone can clear that up for us pretty quickly.

Personally I feel that these "expeditions" are extreme rip-offs. There is absolutely nothing that any group can teach someone that they cannot learn themselves with a little online research, coupled with only moderate prior field experience. If it is the camaraderie that people are after, I suggest finding like-minded people and going into the field together, minus the "fee". I know you weren't asking for opinions, but I thought I would offer up my feelings on the matter.

I think that if you want to start a group like this, you should go for it. It is a way to make money doing something you love, at least I assume you enjoy it, so it doesn't get any better than that. I think it may be difficult for you to get clientele initially, and you may have to put a bit of effort into advertising yourself and/or your services and what an expedition would offer a potential client.

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thermalman

A group of us are planning a local trip in late October. We tried to set one up in late April, but we had an early spring which forced us cancel because of work committments. We're just going to have a camp out get together, in an area where BF is known to prowl. Nothing too serious, just an outing with no expectations.

Edited by thermalman

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Guest shoot1

I know absolutely nothing about how these events are organized, or whether they do in fact have insurance policies. I would think that any organization with that kind of income would want to protect their revenue stream, therefore I could not see them skimping by not paying for insurance, but it is possible I suppose. I'm sure someone can clear that up for us pretty quickly.

I think that starting an LLC, having liability waivers created by an attorney, and getting insurance would be prudent, if not necessary.

Personally I feel that these "expeditions" are extreme rip-offs. There is absolutely nothing that any group can teach someone that they cannot learn themselves with a little online research, coupled with only moderate prior field experience. If it is the camaraderie that people are after, I suggest finding like-minded people and going into the field together, minus the "fee". I know you weren't asking for opinions, but I thought I would offer up my feelings on the matter.

That's exactly how I feel, but I am thinking of going to 1 BFRO expedition just to see how they do things.

I think that if you want to start a group like this, you should go for it. It is a way to make money doing something you love, at least I assume you enjoy it, so it doesn't get any better than that. I think it may be difficult for you to get clientele initially, and you may have to put a bit of effort into advertising yourself and/or your services and what an expedition would offer a potential client.

I think you misunderstand, this isn't about making money. I want to start an open-membership organization that uses monthly fees to pay for local meeting places, crucial field equipment that members could check out, and resources that would be free to use by members at each location/branch/field office or whatever we'd call it. For example having a decent computer at each branch along with Audio and Video editing software would be nice, as well as a decent camcorder, DSLR cameras/Lenses, IR camera, radios, spotlights, GPS, etc. Think of it as being like a Scouting Organization, but for "Bigfoot Researchers". We could make a point of training/educating each other, but my initial idea was to pool financial resources and manpower, schedule regular expeditions, share results/procedures/protocols and share information. Everything could be transparent/above board and as simple/elegant as possible. I also think we could/should leverage & use all the resources currently available to us - keep contributing to existing forums, blogs, sighting databases, etc. Modeling the organization after hackerspaces and scouting troops seems like it could work. Costs could be kept down if we do not employ anyone other than an occasional attorney or accountant, large purchases (vehicles, high-end electronics, leased land for habituation?) could be funded via Kickstarter projects and DVD sales, and, well, the sky's the limit if you crowdsource everything and take out the need to make money. We could differentiate between Observation-based Expeditions, Armed hunts, Vehicle based recons, and allow people to choose what they want to both sponsor and participate in, so our membership "tent" could be large and people would not have to fund anything they don't support. There would have to be bylaws, some mechanism for kicking out members and preventing know hoaxers from participating, and the best way I know of to protect funds would be to raise and spend all donations/dues on an ongoing basis. If we want to do something we raise money to do it, otherwise there'd be no need for money for anything other than meeting places (like hackerspaces). I'm sure that the more transparent the organization is, the easier it will be to maintain credibility and trust. I'm 100% open to other and better ideas.

Edited by shoot1

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Guest shoot1
A group of us are planning a local trip in late October. We tried to set one up in late April, but we had an early spring which forced us cancel because of work committments. We're just going to have a camp out get together, in an area where BF is known to prowl. Nothing too serious, just an outing with no expectations.

Define "local". I'm in MD and that sounds cool, but I do want to get 'serious' eventually.

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BFSleuth

If you charge a fee for an expedition as an organization, then you will be defined as a professional guide service and will need to become a concessionaire with any parks or national forests, register with them, and have insurance. It would be better to be a club and not charge a fee. Private parties can go squatching without group insurance or registering a concession.

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Guest

Best thing is to talk to a Lawyer... if you have money to get the idea off of the ground, having a lawyer handy is always a good idea.

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Guest shoot1

If you charge a fee for an expedition as an organization, then you will be defined as a professional guide service and will need to become a concessionaire with any parks or national forests, register with them, and have insurance. It would be better to be a club and not charge a fee. Private parties can go squatching without group insurance or registering a concession.

I will definitely have to speak to an attorney about this, and I may be wrong, but I think we might be able to get around this by accepting donations in order to pay for expeditions. We would have (low) monthly or annual membership fees for renting facilities and equipment, and could do fund raising to sponsor expeditions (which we technically would not charge members for, but an attorney needs to explain how the fee structures need to be arranged). Sometimes I think the only difference between a Nonprofit and a Company or a Club is semantics.

I think that a (National?) club could work as a "Nonprofit" entity.

I will start a Kickstarter drive to fund the start of a national nonprofit if a lot of people express interest in this thread, but I don't see that happening. Maybe interested people can put a link back to this thread in their signature?

First and foremost, nonprofits (501©3 organizations) are organized around the principle of community benefit. They exist to meet needs and improve the community. Nonprofits serve people in need, work to improve the environment, shape public policy, and advocate for change.

(Sorry, forgot where I got that quote from)

Nonprofits are companies but don't have to be charities. For example, "The Maryland Outdoor Club, Inc. (MOC) is a not-for-profit organization for adults, featuring adventure sports (mostly non-competitive), as well as social events and travel excursions, in and around the state of Maryland. The MOC's mission is to provide our members with fun experiences, the opportunity to network, and the ability to learn about and participate in local adventure sports."

When I was younger I worked for an organization called the "New York Public Interest Research Group", and think a similar name might be appropriate.

"Sasquatch Research Group" might work.

http://www.nypirg.or...ut/history.html

Focusing on a Naturist/Conservationist goal might get more people interested from outside of the "Bigfoot Enthusiast" community:

http://animals.about...ganizations.htm

I took a look at how The Boy Scouts and other scouting organizations are run, and it seems too complex. I'm more interested in something like a hackerspace, where it's a group that pools funds to have a place to meet and work ("hang out") Each hackerspace has its own focus and character, but shares a common organization.

From http://en.wikipedia....iki/Hackerspace :

A hackerspace or hackspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace or creative space) is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital or electronic art (but also in many other realms) can meet, socialise and/or collaborate. Hackerspaces can be viewed as open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops and/or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things.

Many hackerspaces participate in the use and development of free software, open hardware, and alternative media. They are often physically located in infoshops, social centers, adult education centers, or on university campuses, but may relocate to industrial or warehouse space when they need more room.

The specific activities that take place at hackerspaces vary from place to place. In general, hackerspaces function as centers for peer learning and knowledge sharing, in the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. They usually also offer social activities for their members, such as game nights and parties. They typically provide space for members to work on their individual projects, or to collaborate on group projects with other members. Hackerspaces may also operate computer tool lending libraries,or physical tool lending libraries.

The building or facility the hackerspace occupies is important, because it provides physical infrastructure that members need to complete their projects. In addition to space, most hackerspaces provide electrical power, computer servers and networking with Internet connectivity. Well-equipped hackerspaces may provide machine tools, audio equipment, video projectors (...) and various other tools for electronics fabrication and building things(...)

Organization

The individual character of a hackerspace is determined by its members. Many hackerspaces are governed by elected boards selected by active members in good standing. Elected officers may serve predetermined terms, and help direct decisionmaking with regards to purchasing new equipment, recruiting new members, formulating policy, conforming to safety requirements, and other administrative issues.

Membership fees are usually the main income of a hackerspace, but some also accept external sponsors. Some hackerspaces in the US have 501©3 status (or the equivalent in their jurisdiction), while others have chosen to forgo tax exempt status. University-affiliated hackerspaces often do not charge an explicit fee, but are generally limited to students, staff, or alumni, although guests from other hackerspaces are usually welcome to visit. Some hackerspaces accept volunteer labor in lieu of membership fees, especially from financially-limited participants.

There is a loose, informal tradition at many hackerspaces of welcoming visitors from other similar organizations, whether across town or internationally. Free exchange of ideas, skills, and knowledge are encouraged, especially at periodic gatherings sometimes called "build nights" or "open house days".

Criticism

In 2009 there was a debate about inclusionism and exclusionism within the hackerspaces community, Johannes Grenzfurthner and Frank Apunkt Schneider released a critical pamphlet about this struggle. The discussion is still ongoing.

Edited by shoot1

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Guest

My group The Sasquatch Hunters.com is a non-profit organization with members around the country. We do not charge for expeditions but we do make them sign a waiver to attend. We accept donations if they can afford it. So far it's going pretty good and people have been really generous

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Guest shoot1

My group The Sasquatch Hunters.com is a non-profit organization with members around the country. We do not charge for expeditions but we do make them sign a waiver to attend. We accept donations if they can afford it. So far it's going pretty good and people have been really generous

That's awesome - wish you guys were closer. Do you know of any other similar "free expedition" groups?

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thermalman

Define "local". I'm in MD and that sounds cool, but I do want to get 'serious' eventually.

Northern MN.

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Guest shoot1

Northern MN.

Not close enough. Would like to find people close enough to work with and pool resources with.

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salubrious
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Northern MN.

I'm in the Twin Cities. That's close enough for me...

One of the things I think a group should do is teach movement, stalking and tracking, as these skills are quite useful IMO. Tracking- if you find a track, you can follow it and also know if its fake. Movement and stalking- how to be quiet in the woods and brush. Now how I understand it is that quite often BF comes your way due to the sounds you make, but if you know one is coming, you can also know how to be quiet if that is appropriate. It certainly is if you spot one that's not detected you. Yet :)

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thermalman

Gonna be bringing my daughter's brother-in-law, who is a trained tracker and guide in the PNW of BC, and my thermal cameras.

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Guest shoot1

I'm in the Twin Cities. That's close enough for me...

One of the things I think a group should do is teach movement, stalking and tracking, as these skills are quite useful IMO. Tracking- if you find a track, you can follow it and also know if its fake. Movement and stalking- how to be quiet in the woods and brush. Now how I understand it is that quite often BF comes your way due to the sounds you make, but if you know one is coming, you can also know how to be quiet if that is appropriate. It certainly is if you spot one that's not detected you. Yet :)

That's one of the things I think should be taught/standardized and having a national organization would make that relatively simple.

Gonna be bringing my daughter's brother-in-law, who is a trained tracker and guide in the PNW of BC, and my thermal cameras.

Wish I could attend. :( Know anything about building DIY Thermal cameras?

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Guest
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