Additional Volunteer Guidelines B.2

B.2.1 Insurance for 4-H Events

Enrolled 4-H leaders and advisors are considered an extension of the Cooperative Extension staff, and therefore University liability coverage extends to 4-H volunteers. This coverage is not accident or health coverage, but rather liability insurance to cover legal costs (which may include medical bills) in the event the leader and/or the University are sued for damages incurred during an approved 4-H activity. Approved 4-H activities must be open to 4-H members (even though only one member may be in attendance), have an educational component, and involve supervision of enrolled members by enrolled and certified 4-H volunteer leaders.

Accident insurance to cover the basic cost of medical treatment, such as an emergency room visit, stitches, x-rays, etc., resulting from an injury, is highly recommended. For special short-term 4-H events of a risky nature, such as 4-H horse shows or camps and 4-H shooting activities, clubs may require participating 4-H members to obtain a permission form signed by a parent or guardian, and enroll in “Special Event” accident insurance coverage with a reputable company.

Insurance brochures for reasonably priced one-year coverage and special events coverage are available from the county Extension office.

It is recommended that 4-H leaders

  1. carry their own health, accident, automobile and homeowner’s insurance;
  2. be sure each 4-H member is covered by family health and accident insurance;
  3. purchase additional low-cost, year-round accident insurance from a reputable company; and
  4. above all, emphasize, model and teach safety in all their 4-H activities.

B.2.2 County Leaders’ Organizations

The county 4‑H program should be designed to meet the educational needs of youth and their volunteer leaders. In many instances it is the task of 4-H leaders’ associations and 4-H advisory councils or committees to identify and meet these needs. The great variability in state and county 4‑H programs leads to diversity in the existence and structure of associations, councils and committees. Some counties have none while other counties have one or more. Because counties differ in their needs, their organizations will vary in size and approach. Each will tailor its procedures and activities to fit the county situation.

Although you will sometimes hear the terms “leaders’ association” and “advisory council or committee” used interchangeably, the descriptions below generalize their organizational function and are offered as guidelines.

4‑H Leaders’ Association

The county 4‑H leaders’ association gives volunteer leaders a voice and direct involvement in the county 4‑H program. It organizes and sponsors educational efforts for both leaders and 4‑H members. Leader association meetings provide forums in which volunteers exchange ideas, discuss mutual concerns and gain information about working with youth through 4‑H. Meetings are a time of learning, sharing, and fellowship. Any interested volunteer 4‑H leader may belong to the association, and all leaders are invited to attend association meetings.

4‑H leaders’ associations’ roles usually include:

  • Identify training needs of 4-H volunteers.
  • Help conduct leader training.
  • Promote idea exchange and mutual support.
  • Stimulate formation of committees to plan, conduct and evaluate county programs if a 4‑H advisory council does not exist.
  • Cooperate with other 4‑H organizations such as the Pine Tree State 4‑H Foundation.
  • Help explain 4‑H to the public.
  • Help develop program resources.
  • Recruit leaders into 4‑H programs and activities.
  • Recognize and evaluate leader progress and accomplishments.

4‑H Advisory Council or Committee

The 4‑H advisory council or committee is generally a working group responsible for providing direction to the 4‑H program. Its membership should represent the community, including racial and ethnic minorities. A good mix would be to have one third of the membership be teenage youth, one third be from the 4‑H leaders’ association and one third be adults from outside of the leaders’ association.

Possible sources for council members outside of the 4‑H organization include:

  • business or civic leaders, elected officials
  • civic organizations
  • youth groups and school student councils
  • senior citizens
  • former 4‑H members or volunteers

The general functions of a 4‑H advisory council or committee include the following tasks.

  • Collect and assess information about youth and volunteer needs.
  • Set long‑range and short‑range objectives for the 4‑H program.
  • Help locate support needed to conduct educational programs.
  • Maintain a relationship with the County Cooperative Extension Executive Committee.
  • Conduct educational programs that are outside the function of the leaders’ association.
  • Evaluate and report program results.

Successful 4-H advisory councils or committees generally adopt meeting procedures that are agreeable to members and helpful in conducting business. Selected procedures to help the council include:

  • approach its job in an orderly way
  • be responsible and responsive in its meetings
  • keep an accurate account of its activities
  • conduct relationships with other groups in a productive manner

B.2.3 General Financial Guidelines for UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H Clubs and County 4-H Leader Associations

Revised May 2018

Managing Money

  • 4-H Clubs/County 4-H Leader Associations shall at all times be organized and operated in accordance with the University’s Cooperative Extension policies, procedures and guidelines.
  • Funds must be deposited in a FDIC or NCUA insured public financial institution in an account bearing the group’s name. Check for institutions that allow non-profit groups to maintain an account that has no minimum amount and activity requirement and no monthly service fee.
  • An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required to open a checking or savings account. This is the Federal Identification Number. Work with Extension staff responsible for 4-H in your county when applying for an EIN. In no case can 4-H Clubs or County 4-H Leader Associations use the University of Maine’s EIN.
  • Personal social security numbers are never to be used on any 4-H group financial account.
  • The 4-H Clubs/County Leader Associations should develop an annual budget. A budget should represent a reasonable expectation of projected expenditures and income for the group or club.
  • The treasurer is responsible for the financial management of the group’s assets and is accountable to all 4-H members, 4-H volunteer leaders, Extension staff and the public. The treasurer cannot be an authorized signatory of the clubs assets unless they are 18 years of age.
  • There should be two adult signatories on each bank account; signatories cannot be related to prevent an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Extension employees are not allowed to sign checks, make deposits for 4-H Clubs/ County 4-H Leader Associations or have signatory authority over any assets of the group.
  • The following three items should be prepared by the treasurer:
    a) budget,
    b) periodic financial reports and
    c) annual financial summary
    The annual financial summary with all supporting documentation, should be reviewed annually by a Cooperative Extension 4-H staff member.

Fund Raising Guidelines

  • Fund raising must be in the name of the 4-H entity and not the University of Maine or Cooperative Extension unless the University of Maine will manage the funds.
  • Funds raised in the name of 4-H must be publicly accountable. Money raised in the name of 4-H groups must be used for 4-H educational and/or programming purposes. Fundraising is not the main focus of the group’s activities.
  • Generally, money raised during the year should be spent that same year.
  • All fundraising events should be discussed and approved in advance, with Extension 4-H staff.
  • A 4-H Charter is the only document that officially recognizes a 4-H club and authorizes their use of the 4-H Name and Emblem to conduct 4-H Youth Development programming and any fundraising related to it.
  • Check with Extension 4-H staff before putting the 4-H Name and Emblem on any item you intend to use in a fundraising effort. See the 4-H Name and Emblem website for additional information.
    In connection with 4-H fundraising purposes, the following disclaimer must be used on products or services offered for sale: “A portion of the sales price of this product or service will be used to promote 4-H educational programs. No endorsement of the product or service by 4-H is implied or intended The 4-H Club, Leader’s Association, and Cooperative Extension make no claims as to the tax implications of these funds.”
  • If a 4-H Club/ County 4-H Leader Association raises funds for a charitable cause, donors must be informed about how the funds will be used and the group must have documentation of how the commitment was honored. University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H Staff must make sure that such sanctioned activities have concluded. People who donate money to a specific cause or organization have every right to believe that an Extension group’s fundraisers will honor their desire to have the money forwarded to that cause or organization. After the funds are collected, you cannot revise where and to whom the funds will be directed. Should it become impossible or impractical to carry out the original fundraising purposes, an alternative purpose that best fits the donor’s intent and wishes shall be designated by Program Administrator for the 4-H program
  • Fundraisers that include games of chance or 50/50′s, jackpots, etc. or involve firearms, alcohol., tobacco are not permitted.
  • Raffle tickets may not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. For more information, see Raffles.
  • Fundraising development work for long-term investments should be created in partnership with the Maine 4-H Foundation. It is strongly recommended that 4-H Clubs/ County 4-H Leader Associations not hold individual long-term investments.

Acknowledging Extension Program Sponsors

  • It is appropriate and essential that 4-H clubs/County 4-H Leader Associations acknowledge non-University sponsors of Extension programs and events. A way to do that is to post a thank you sign and include the name of the sponsor. It is also important to include the following line on the sign: “Brand names and trade names are included to show sponsorship or for educational purposes. No endorsement is implied nor is discrimination intended against similar products or services.”

Financial Reporting

  • The Maine 4-H fiscal year runs October 1-September 30.
  • A financial report should be made to 4-H Club members/County 4-H Leader Association members at every meeting.
  • Financial statements documenting the monthly report need to be available to the entire group membership.
  • A 4-H group’s Annual Financial Summary must be completed and submitted to the appropriate 4-H staff member by the date established by the county Extension Office.
  • All UMaine Extension 4-H clubs and affiliates (i.e., Leaders’ Associations, Animal Science Committees, Horse Camp), aka subordinates, are covered under University of Maine federal Group Exemption Number (GEN) 5930. Under this group ruling, Extension 4-H subordinates are exempt from federal income tax under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All tax-exempt 4-H organizations earning $50,000 or less are required to fileForm 990N, an annual electronic notice. In partnership with the county office a 990N will be filed.
  • Any member of the group should first report any problems with the finances to the President or Treasurer of the group as soon as they are discovered. If the problem is more involved than a simple clerical error follow up with the appropriate 4-H staff member affiliated with the group.

Dissolution Clause

  • Any 4-H Club/County 4-H Leader Association that disbands must account to the local 4-H staff member for all funds raised and spent. This also includes noncash 4-H Club/County 4-H Leaders Association assets that have been purchased with 4-H Club/County 4-H Leader Association funds. This must be done within 60 days after the closing of the club or group.
  • All 4-H clubs or 4-H groups that disband must transfer any remaining funds, following a financial review by a 4-H staff member, to
    • new leaders and members taking over the club, or
    • a county- or state-based 4-H scholarship fund, or
    • the Leaders’ Association in the respective county, or
    • another 4-H club in the county, or
    • the Maine 4-H Foundation, or
    • some other appropriate 4-H entity approved by 4-H staff.

Best Practices

  • The treasurer position in a 4-H Club is a youth position. This is a valuable youth leadership role.
  • Checks should require two signatures for expenditures over $100. In the case of a 4-H Club, this will need to be two adults if the youth treasurer is under the age of 18. In County 4-H Leader Associations or 4-H Clubs the two signatories should not be related to each other. In no cases should youth under the age of 18 sign checks on behalf of the 4-H Club.
  • When a check is voided, the check should be marked “void” and attached to the check stub or duplicate check.
  • All checking account transactions are to be recorded by the treasurer in the check register at the time the transaction occurs. Entries are to be dated and be as detailed as possible showing the name of payee or deposit source and purpose of expense.
  • All check registers are to be reconciled with the bank statement monthly at the time it is received. These reconciliations are to be documented. (Generally, the back of the bank statement provides a reconciliation form that is sufficient and electronic systems allow reconciliation records to be printed). These reconciliations along with the corresponding bank statement, should be kept for the current year and four additional years.
  • Written receipts should be given for all monies received. The receipt should include the amount, source of the funds, form of payment (cash or check) the date and the name of the person who collected the payment. Receipts are documentation to justify bank deposits made into the account of the 4-H Club or County 4-H Leader Association. Receipts should become a permanent part of the club or group’s files.
  • Deposits of all monies should be made promptly.
  • Invoices and other bills should be paid promptly.
  • No one is to sign a blank check.
  • 4-H group members need to understand and approve payments and purchases.
  • Financial records should be kept up-to-date and reported at each meeting.
  • Per the University and IRS rules, 4-H Club and County 4-H Leader Association members are required to recuse themselves from scholarship award decisions when there is a real or perceived conflict of interest. This includes being involved or physically present for any discussion regarding the selection of recipients and/or the amount of awards. Extension staff can serve as an important resource when determining if a potential conflict of interest exists.

Guidelines for Fair and 4-H Exhibit Hall Premiums

The preferred method for distributing fair or exhibit hall premiums to 4-H members is to have the fair association write a check directly to the participating 4-H members. If a fair association provides the premium money in one lump sum check to the County 4-H Leader Association or to individual 4-H Clubs, the County 4-H Leader Association or club treasurer should write individual checks to each 4-H participant. Written receipts should be used when money is given to youth members, parents or volunteers. An Exhibit Hall premium tally sheet should be signed by the 4-H member or 4-H Club leader when premium money is received. Handling of cash should be avoided in all circumstances.

Sales Tax

4-H Clubs and County 4-H Leader Associations are not exempt from state sales tax. In no case can the University of Maine’s sales tax exemption number be used by 4-H Clubs or County 4-H Leaders Associations.

Debit Cards

A debit card linked to a 4-H Club or 4-H County Leaders Association bank account can be a useful tool in purchasing items for the group. However, oversight and use of the debit cards must be carefully monitored with receipts kept and reconciled on a regular basis.

Petty Cash

4-H Clubs and County 4-H Leaders Associations should limit the use of petty cash. Groups should limit the size of their petty cash to $50.00. Use of the petty cash requires accurate record keeping including receipts for all transactions similar to a bank account. Reconciliation should occur monthly along with reporting to group membership.

B.2.4 Contacting Other 4-H Groups

If you or your members want to contact another 4-H club or program, for example, to answer a question or to invite their members to your club or county events, it’s a good idea to check with your county Extension office first. As you are aware, the leadership of clubs may change for a variety of reasons, and we can tell you who the current contact person is.

Occasionally, across the state, we have dismissed a 4-H volunteer for violating the “Standards of Behavior” that all 4-H volunteers and staff sign. It can be an embarrassment for all involved if one of these people is contacted when they are no longer “in good standing” as a 4-H volunteer. So please check in with the Extension office to make sure your contact person is a current 4-H volunteer.