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Hawks regain nonprofit designation

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2020 7:50:55 AM
Modified: 9/16/2020 7:50:47 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Upper Valley Nighthawks are back in the good graces of the Internal Revenue Service.

The Nighthawks’ nonprofit status had been revoked on May 15, 2019, for failing to file federal tax returns for three consecutive years, according to the federal agency’s database for tax-exempt organizations.

But in a letter dated Aug. 19 to Noah Crane, Upper Valley’s president, the IRS reinstated the Nighthawks’ federal income tax exemption and classified the organization as a public charity, a 501(c)(3).

Getting the IRS’s stamp of approval to operate as a nonprofit is key to the Nighthawks’ survival. Through its Nighthawks Baseball Foundation, the team can solicit charitable contributions — large and small — from businesses, philanthropic organizations and individuals.

“We wanted to get that (tax-exempt status) set up and restored,” Crane said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “We had, all along, stated that it was a minor issue. It’s just a paperwork error on our part. It never changed what we were doing or what we were about, our organizational model.”

The steps back to tax-exempt status began back in January when Crane and his accountant sent in the paperwork and user fee necessary for reinstatement.

He could’ve heard back earlier than August, but because of COVID-19 the IRS stopped looking at applications for a period of time, putting the process on hold.

Crane shared the organization’s most recent form 990-EZ, which provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit organization, with the Valley News.

The Nighthawks generated about $192,100 in revenue in 2019 and incurred $126,300 of total expenses, ultimately resulting in about $95,300 on hand at the end of the year. The largest source of cash flow for the Nighthawks was via contributions, gifts and grants, amounting to more than $99,500.

Upper Valley spent about $19,800 for occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance at the town-owned Maxfield Sports Complex, its home located on Route 5 in White River Junction.

The form also identifies that Crane didn’t take a salary in 2019; he hasn’t received once since the Nighthawks’ outset in 2016.

And since the New England Collegiate Baseball League chose to cancel the 2020 season, the organization didn’t spend much money this summer.

The only bill that needed to be paid was the light bill, which is usually paid with a chunk of the revenue generated during the season but was instead taken care through a handful of donations.

“When you’re not playing, you’re not generating any revenue,” he said. “But the positive sign is, unlike a normal business, we’re also not incurring expenses for the most part. We don’t have to pay for buses, and we don’t have to feed our players when there are no players to feed and no players to travel around.”

Upper Valley is also now in good standing with the state after registering with the Charitable Trust Unit of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. Although the Nighthawks play their home games in Vermont, they’re considered a New Hampshire entity because Crane runs the team out of his residence in Lebanon.

The team previously hadn’t registered with the unit, meaning New Hampshire had never recognized the charity as a unit.

The focus for Crane now shifts to the Nighthawks’ 2021 season. With the time off he had this summer without baseball, he was able to start putting together the roster and now has two slots remaining.

No major fundraising plans are in the works, but making sure he can bring summer collegiate baseball back to the Upper Valley this summer is the top priority.

“I love this community and just being with people,” said Crane, who is still searching for a manager. “So when we’re stuck in our homes and not able to do that, it’s hard. That feeling of isolation is tough. But it only fuels what’s to come for 2021.”

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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