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Fly, fight … and fundraise?

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- We have a running joke in the legal office that the mission of the Air Force is to fly, fight and fundraise and not necessarily in that order. In any given week our office is asked to perform formal legal reviews on anywhere from five to 15 fundraisers. If you were to count the unofficial requests for information that number probably jumps up to close to 20 at times.

You may be asking yourself, "Why does the legal office have to review fundraisers? I mean, all we want to do is sell burritos in the lobby!" Unfortunately the legal landscape for even the most simple of fundraisers is filled with potholes. Every fundraiser that gets reviewed involves multiple AFIs, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Joint Ethics Regulation and at times several other DoD Instructions and even the United States Code. In short, they are not simple requests. Myriad ethical issues are involved with every fundraiser request and it is our job within the legal office to make sure each fundraiser is on the up and up.

So, if you or your private organization wishes to fundraise, how early should you submit your request to make sure we here at legal can give it our thumbs up and the 21st Force Support Squadron commander can sign off in time for you to hold the fundraiser? The answer: at the very least you should submit your fundraiser requests to FSS private organization office no later than two weeks before your fundraiser. Any later and there is no guarantee that your fundraiser will be approved before the requested date.

Submitting a fundraiser does not simply need the legal office's approval. Each fundraiser goes through several steps and each one of those stops requires time to look into the fundraiser and ensure there are no issues. Before you even submit the request you will need to coordinate the time and location of the event. Be sure that if you are holding it in a specific building you have coordinated with that building manager ahead of time. Second, any private organization who wants to fundraise must be in good standing and have all required documentation up to date and on file with 21st FSS. Ensuring this is the case takes time and if the private organization's documents are not in order, the request will not move forward through the approval channels.

Do you want to sell food at your fundraiser? If so, this requires approval from public health. Do you want to fundraise during the high-volume holiday season? That means the legal office is going to need more time for review since there will be numerous others requesting to fundraise at the same time. Then there is the final step: Getting the FSS commander's signature. The FSS commander is the approval authority for all fundraisers which means he or she must approve the request before you can proceed. Even if the legal office finds the fundraiser is legally sufficient, without the commander's signature you still are not allowed to hold the event. In addition, if an organization wishes to hold a fundraising event during CFC or AFAF approval must be from the 21st Space Wing commander, which means even more time will be needed to process the request. Add all that up and you can see it is simply impossible to request approval for a fundraiser on a Friday and expect to hold the fundraiser on a Monday.

The 21st SW legal office, the FSS private organization office and the personnel at public health are doing what we can to make sure your requests comply with all the rules, regulations, instructions and laws they need to, all while getting them through the approval process in as short amount of time as possible, but we need your help. Fundraising is a valuable tool we have that helps with morale and welfare but we need to make sure we are doing it correctly. Help us help you ensure your next bake sale gets approved in time and is in full compliance with the law.

For information about fundraising, contact the 21st FSS private organizations office at 556-4266.

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