Re: Dojo in southern Indiana?
All good ideas... It's unfortunate to hear the YMCA is out, but we should still have plenty of options. I really like where this is going with the not-for-profit idea, and the 501(c)(7) classification seems like it would easily apply to an Aikido club, with or without national affiliation; it might just be a matter of shuffling around the proper paperwork. With the first dojo in Evansville, we didn't bother seeking any special tax status and simply ran it as a small business, so this level of organization would be new territory for us. However, it seems very feasible. Our first try at it was fairly unorganized, which was probably part of the problem. We didn't care about the business side or tax status; we just wanted to practice Aikido.
I spoke with the Shihan who technically "owns and operates" the Aikido Club of Lafayette where I currently live and train (which is currently incorporated as an LLC) regarding the 501(c)(7) classification. He said his crew of accountants and lawyers had shot him down on 501(c)(3) classification for the club, but he had never heard of 501(c)(7) and is going to look into it. It seems that upon filing for such exempt status, one needs several years of club records to verify your club's aims and activities, which could be a problem for a start-up. I'm just beginning the tedious task of reading through IRS Pub 557 which seems to have a lot of the details.
We can figure it out when we meet up, but the most realistic short-term scenario is probably renting space and re-building the student body while establishing the necessary club history for exempt status and potentially developing funds and a strategy for purchasing and maintaining our own facility.