If you are looking to join an established team, a Google search will usually turn up several options in your area, or you can contact our secretary for help connecting you.
New teams start up for a variety of reasons. Perhaps dragon boating is new to a particular area, or perhaps you have a group of teammates with different goals than the available teams in your region.
The first hurdle for new teams is the dragon boat, equipment, and moorage. If you are fortunate enough to have a large club near you, they may allow you to rent time on their equipment, or they may have a membership for your team that puts you under their umbrella with equipment privileges. Otherwise, you will need to fundraise or find a donor for these expensive necessities.
If your team goal is eventually for high-level competition, you will need a more formal club structure, which includes things like bank accounts and a governing structure. You may choose to form a corporation to set up this structure, and this can protect the members from legal liability incurred by the club. If you incorporate, you will want to think about whether or not to apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Dragon boat clubs usually fall under the “fostering national or international sports competition” category. Achieving non-profit status exempts the club from corporate income taxes, allows it to solicit donations, and opens eligibility for grants. However, it is a costly process that may require legal help with the required paperwork.
Here are some resources to help with decisions to form a new club.
5 Tips for Starting a Club Sports Team (How Stuff Works)
Charitable Organizations (IRS)
Applying for Tax-Exempt Status (IRS Publication 4220)
Compliance Guide for Public Charities (IRS Publication 4221)