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Grubbs Grizzly founds 'educational resource and think tank'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

American Furry Association logoFurry advice columnist Grubbs Grizzly has incorporated the American Furry Association, which he hopes will become a leading non-profit in support of the furry community.

According to Grubbs, the organization's mission is:

[…] to serve as an educational resource and think tank for the furry community, with the goal of promoting furry arts and furry businesses, fostering better communication among furries in the United States, and dispelling misinformation about the furry fandom both within and outside its membership.

Grubbs says the AFA is not restricted to policy, but may provide services such as a membership directory, unique-named fursona registration and business yellow pages, awards, convention and business organization services (including grants and job boards), lists of fandom resources/news, member discounts, group insurance, and media relations.

Such extensive ambitions seem like they might require both a large membership and a big budget. Grubbs tentatively suggested dues of $15 from a proposed 10,000 members, leading to annual revenue of $150,000. (For comparison, Anthrocon's annual budget is around $300,000.)

The organization – whose motto is "Stronger Community through Furry Unity" – is to be open to furries age 13 and above worldwide, although those below the age of 18 will need parental permission. Grubbs is currently seeking volunteer committee and board members.

So far, responses have been mixed, with some eager for increased governance (and a "tax write-off" for donations), while others questioned the need for such an orgnization, fear misrepresentation, and expressed doubts that the organization can achieve so many goals at once:

I see pros and cons to this. Unfortunately I just don't think it would work out in the end. Furries are a very diverse group and there's just no way to represent them all without...well...drama. ?

I really can't see it working with that mission statement. It's too massive and broad. Too many ways for it to step on other groups' toes.

Some commenters also cast doubts on Grubbs' ability to run an organization of the size proposed. (He currently works as a freelance editor.)

The most positive reception came for the idea of a business directly listing, reflecting the popularity of existing venues such as "Artists Beware".

The AFA's incorporation documents were filed with California's Secretary of State office on August 10. Grubbs, who "will serve as president and treasurer of the association in its initial stages", intends to establish 501(c)(3) status for it but has not yet prepared the necessary documents.

Update (29 Oct): Grubbs Grizzly has posted a response to the commentary on this article.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (7 votes)

I have a few concerns of my own, most relating to the diverse nature of services proposed.

You can't just throw a bunch of services into an corporation and call it a 501(c)(3). They have to be organized and operated:

exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, to promote the arts, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.

It's bad enough when conventions (FC/AAE, MFF, FCN, RMFC, FurFright, Morphicon, Rainfurrest) register as 501(c)(3) organizations in the hope of attracting donations from those looking for a deduction, risking their own tax-exemption — we don't need any more.

There are many types of non-profit organization (tax-exempt, but not tax-deductible for donors) that could be chosen instead; the more obscure ones are described in this document. In some respects, this sounds like a 501(c)(6) business league, since it has the goal (in part) of promoting the common interest of its business members. It could also be argued that this should be a 501(c)(7) private club, because it primarily provides services to private members rather than the general public.

In reality, no one designation covers the AFA, because its proposed activities span multiple areas. To me, this strongly suggests that it should be multiple organizations – perhaps one to handle the 501(c)(3) activities such as education and awards, and another for business services.

The IRS also requires specific clauses in a 501(c)(3)'s organizational documents to ensure that it is compliant with their rules. If they have not been considered, the articles of incorporation may need to be amended. This might sound picky, but we're talking a six-figure revenue here.

Lastly, there were a few comments in the press release relating to reimbursement of volunteers for fandom activities. These may be allowable but the IRS looks closely at personal expenses. Any enjoyment must be incidental to the purpose, else it's not reimbursable.

I admit being conflicted here. I've been preparing a 501(c)(3) myself, to run WikiFur, Flayrah, the Yerf Archive, and perhaps other projects. However, our goals are more restricted (to promote knowledge/understanding of furry fandom through literary representations, and to aid the creation and appreciation of furry art and literary works), and both I and the people I am recruiting have experience in achieving them.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

it should be multiple organizations – perhaps one to handle the 501(c)(3) activities such as education and awards, and another for business services.

Or be a registry of accredited members that can do those services, and offer the service of administering it and being an intermediary. That would be really valuable if done professionally! So if a business meets quality guidelines, it gets a badge to advertise membership. People can consider it more trustworthy, and service seekers can find them through the main organization. That would raise worth of the organization and for dues paying businesses and members.

Apply this idea to commissioning a fursuit. Right now, finding a maker is a time consuming random process that takes combing through forums. When you find one, IF you can get in touch and get in their queue, it takes a lot of trust the work will be good, and you might wait a whole year after you pay a deposit before you see your expensive goods. It doesn't work that way in most businesses! There's a need for this.

You made a great crit. Over-ambition isn't necessarily bad though, it might just lead to adjusted expectations later.

Notice that the organizer's previous plans include starting a furry school, starting a new furry con, and starting a voice talent agency.

I've been involved in organizations like this idea, and I love them. I've also seen a few be horrible.

Grubbs tentatively suggested dues of $15 from a proposed 10,000 members, leading to annual revenue of $150,000. (For comparison, Anthrocon's annual budget is around $300,000.)

This leads to questions about the "furry industry". AC is surely one of the largest things in it, so what are the others? Some "shadowy" ones must be up there (I wonder if anyone has ever shared anything about Bad Dragon's annual gross?) How many people are employed in this tiny "industry"? Lots of self-employed, and more than a few partnerships and small businesses of a few people. (Mine has a few employees, with "furry" business as a small sideline.)

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (4 votes)

My only experience with this sort of thing has been negative. In anime fandom, when the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization started to expand in the early 1980s with chapters throughout the U.S. & Canada, several members insisted that the club should legally incorporate as a non-profit organization. But incorporation requires a lot of legal bookkeeping, with reports filed to the government every year. Most C/FO members were adolescents who were extremely anti-bureaucratic and refused to keep or file the necessary paperwork. So the club never did incorporate.

This is minor nitpicking, but does the American Furry Association plan to operate in America only? A more international name might have been better.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

I don't have that positive a view of it. Some sections aren't bad ideas but I do worry about the scope and how much they are going to try control.

For example on Daily Fur Blog the post about the AFA has part of the title as "Govern the fandom?" which is not encouraging. Then when you hear their motto is about unity and they are going to "dispel misinformation" you can't help wonder how that will affect their business directory. It sounds like they are going to be promoting their own idea of what furry is while trying to cut off people that don't agree.

This is something that we've seen among furries before and you have to wonder if their directory can be unbiased when they are promoting a specific furry ideology. To make it more concrete cub is highly decisive in the fandom, being forbidden by one furry site, and if the AFA takes that tack will they represent furs that like cub stuff, deny they are true furs or allow artists that draw cub on their directory?

In any case Inkbunny and SoFurry both have facilities for furs to sell their work and accept commissions and many local furry groups have their own forums. When you then take that into consideration you have to wonder if there's really a need for anything like this.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Most well-known think tanks promote a particular position or ideology. That is part of their point.

A decade ago this might have been an issue, but there's a lot of furs out there nowadays; if this organization does get off the ground, it will not be the only voice out there. Conventions, researchers and individuals all influence the fandom (and are often quoted by the media). As for governing . . . some have tried, most have failed. We have princes, not kings.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

Two things; all furries are equal, but some furries are more equal than others sounds like an appropriate response to your response.

Second, and I'm just being an asshole, but cub porn is divisive, not decisive.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

That was a typo. Want to explain what your first comment meant because I'm not sure what you are trying to say?

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

All furries have the right to express their opinion. Some people have a louder voice, or more people listening, or the means to enforce their opinions in some way. But such power always has limits.

For example, Softpaw was banned by a few convention leaders/boards, but their decisions were not binding on other conventions, and their efforts were undermined by it being nominated for the Ursa Majors. In response, they used their influence at the UMA to exclude such works in future years. Ultimately Softpaw stopped publishing, but it doesn't appear to be because any of this.

External bodies can similarly influence the fandom; AlertPay, not internal pressure, ultimately caused cub porn to be banned on FA. But this power, too, has limits - Inkbunny continues to accept it, many artists continue to take commissions for it.

Your rating: None Average: 1.5 (4 votes)

No, I'm making "Animal Farm"almost quotes because where else are they more appropriate than a furry article about questionable authority figures?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

I for one am excited about the creation of the AFA, having helped behind the scenes now for months (I also created the organization's logo). The topic of "the AFA may misrepresent/try to change what the Furry Fandom is about" has come up in different discussions all too often, but the answer stays the same; the AFA is going to exist for bringing community together, not to dictate what is or isn't Furry. Informational databases within the AFA will be able to cover history of the fandom as well as other forms of information, but if a fur decides not to be a member of the AFA they are no less furry than the ones who decide to be part of the AFA community.

I have seen nothing but a professional approach thus far and I am proud to be part of it. I think it will be a valuable asset to the Furries of America. :3

--Ratgirl

Your rating: None Average: 3 (5 votes)

If the AFA is successful, it will overcome all the negativity just expressed above. I am tired of the negativity in the fandom, the defeatism, the "you can't do that" crap I constantly hear from furries. Every time someone tries to do something good, furries knock it down. I think we need something like the AFA exactly BECAUSE we are so diverse and need something that can bring us together and keep us from being our own worst enemies.

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

I second this. I don't know who you are, but you just hit the nail on the head. :)
Also I think that the people above are confusing AFA with another Fur Affinity like site. It's going to be far different, but of course nobody on the outside knows that yet so of course accusations and assumptions are being made.

Much of this negativity will likely be resolved once AFA is officially up and online to the public.

--Ratgirl

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

three key elements go into a successful business plan: a logical statement of a problem and its solution; a battery of cold, hard evidence; and candor about the risks, gaps and other assumptions that might be proved wrong.

Notice that the organizer announced to the public on his FA journals some previous plans for starting a furry school, starting a new furry con, and starting a voice talent agency. How did those work out? I don't know, but be careful not to dismiss realism as negativity. It will help make cool things happen. For all plans like this, there's many failures for every success. I hope this succeeds.

Your rating: None Average: 1.9 (13 votes)

I'm deleting all my comments and replies to the negative attacks from readers here. I regret allowing myself get sucked into the drama. You people can trash the AFA idea or support it, whatever you like.

Your rating: None Average: 4.9 (7 votes)

Insulted at a sincere, neutral and important question about track record?

Thats a red flag.

Your rating: None Average: 1.6 (9 votes)

no comment

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

A track record of undone proposals, over-defensive about it, won't own it and only takes credit for good things.

Work on P.R. while you can, because this isn't good.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (6 votes)

no comment

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Since this thing above seems to have blown up and my comment points have dropped by .5 I'm going to guess something in here is causing it. I was not involved in any conversation here nor have any wish to be. Taking it out on my past comments/stories seems to have become a way for people to vent on this site, it's not a nice thing to do, the system is not meant for that kind of abuse.

As a note, I never post anonymously, I am of the belief if I wouldn't say something signed in, I shouldn't say it signed off.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Grubbs Grizzly has posted a response to the commentary on this article.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (6 votes)

Only it doesn't really give a response to the criticisms. It's more a long whine about how he had an idea which he thinks will help the fandom but people were not instantly supportive so they must be hateful and attacking him. One can support an idea and be critical of it at the same time. In addition there don't seem to be any personal attacks in the comments here. Asking about a history of abandoned projects and why a person is qualified to lead such an organisation is not a personal attack and it's distressing that some people construe that as such.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.