EAST COUNTY — After submitting financial records to state regulators Thursday, April 10, the nonprofit running Nathan Benderson Park can solicit donations.
Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA) is back in compliance with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and can now operate as a charitable organization.
In January, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had denied SANCA’s renewal application for registration as a charitable organization because it did not provide financial records from fiscal year 2012, violating state law.
Without charitable registration status, SANCA could not solicit donations from the general public.
SANCA plans to launch a fundraising drive — funded partly by private donors — to raise $22 million to expand facilities at Nathan Benderson Park before it hosts the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
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EAST COUNTY —The nonprofit running Nathan Benderson Park cannot currently solicit donations because the state no longer considers it a charitable organization.
In a Jan. 10 letter, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services denied SANCA’s renewal application for registration as a charitable organization.
The state agency says SANCA did not provide financial records from fiscal year 2012, violating state law.
“This is pretty common with organizations, either because they’re new or maybe they forget the deadlines,” said Erin Gillespie, the press secretary for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “We work with the organizations to bring them into compliance. That’s what we both want.”
Under Florida law, nonprofits that want to solicit donations from the general public must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The license must be renewed annually.
SANCA had been successfully registered with the state in 2012 and 2013.
The 2013 application expired in August of that year.
In December 2013, a regulator from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services wrote SANCA that the state had received the nonprofit’s renewal application, but that it was missing financial information for fiscal year 2012.
In an email to the East County Observer, Paul Blackketter, president of SANCA, said he is “totally focused on getting the information to the state.”
Blackketter told the East County Observer in February that SANCA had plans to launch a fundraising drive to raise $22 million to expand facilities at Nathan Benderson Park before it hosts the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
At that time, Blackketter said he hoped at least some of the $22 million would be funded by donations from the general public.
He said SANCA would only begin soliciting money until it prepared architectural designs for a multi-use boathouse that will be a main feature of the park.
The design is not complete yet, so SANCA has not begun its private fundraising campaign — though, without charitable registration with the state, it couldn’t begin soliciting money even it wanted to.
If SANCA does act to get into compliance and submits its financials to the state, Gillespie said it would generally take about 15 days for the new information to process.
At that point, SANCA could again be successfully registered as a charitable organization with the state.
“It’s a very simple process (to get into compliance),” Gillespie said.
Contact Josh Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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