What are the benefits of FPUSA membership?


In this post we look at the benefits of FPUSA membership— that is, of individual membership and club affiliation. (Clubs are said to be “affiliated with”, not “members of”, the FPUSA.)

At the outset let’s note that FPUSA membership is really cheap— $15 a year for membership through an affiliated club, and $20 a year for an at-large “individual” membership.

Benefits of FPUSA membership

  1. FPUSA membership is required for participation in FPUSA regional and national championships. And of course FPUSA membership is required in order to represent the USA in FIPJP World Championships.
  2. FPUSA membership is often required for participation in play and competitions in other countries. As Frank Pipal (current FPUSA president) notes—

    An FPUSA license is recognized by other FIPJP member federations including the FFPJP [the French national federation]. The ability to play in FFPJP tournaments depends on the nature of the tournament. A tournament that is part of a league, departmental, regional, or national championship will not be open to foreign players, but many others will be.

    Ernesto Santos points out

    As an FPUSA member you get an international license that allows you to play around the world. In almost all other countries, you will need to show your license before being allowed to play in an affiliated club’s tournament (or even casual play). Many times they will collect that license before the start of a tourney and only give it back when you leave (provided you didn’t misbehave). If you don’t have a license you may be required to buy a day-license on the spot. And this holds true even for non-sanctioned open tournaments like La Marseillaise.

Benefits of FPUSA club affiliation

There are no club-level dues for FPUSA affiliation, but there is a minimum-membership requirement. FPUSA requires affiliated clubs to have at least 8 members for the first year of affiliation and at least 12 members during succeeding years. FPUSA will not “dis-affiliate” a club that cannot meet the 12-member requirement (the club can renew its affiliation and remain on the insurance policy), but the club’s voting rights are suspended until the minimum-membership requirement is met.

That means that

  • For a club with fewer than 8 dues-paying FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is not an option.
  • For a club with 8 or more members that are also dues-paying FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is basically a freebie.

Liability insurance

For a club, the primary benefit of FPUSA affiliation is the liability insurance that comes with that affiliation. If your club holds an event, and if someone gets injured during that event, then this insurance will protect your club and members from any financial damages for which they might legally be held liable.

  • FPUSA doesn’t provide any information about its liability insurance on its web site. US Lacrosse, however, does, and that information shows that liability insurance is a more complicated affair than you probably imagine. The moral of the story: when your club gets its FPUSA insurance document, read it carefully.

Your local Parks & Recreation Department may require your club to have liability insurance as a precondition for holding an event at one of its facilities. When a club joins FPUSA, it receives a certificate of insurance that should satisfy that requirement. Further certificates are available from FPUSA upon request.

Non-profit status

FPUSA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Affiliated clubs (meeting certain organizational requirements) may receive a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status through the FPUSA without having to file their own separate application with the IRS. This can be useful when setting up club accounts and dealing with state incorporation and taxation authorities.

New club benefits

During its first year of affiliation, a new club may be reimbursed by the FPUSA for up to $100 for purchases of petanque-related equipment— guest boules, playing circles, prize medals and trophies, club banners and signs, etc. During its second year of affiliation, a club is eligible for a 50% reimbursement of up to $100 on $200 in purchases. This is an important benefit— having a good supply of guest boules for new players is probably a critical success factor for new clubs.

Benefits to the sport of petanque

When it is time for an FPUSA national champion team to travel to the FIPJP world championships, the FPUSA assists with the cost of travel. The money comes from entry fees for the national championship (international qualifier) tournament and a percentage (20%) of FPUSA income from membership dues. For any given trip, that amount might be somewhere between $500 and $1000 per person.

The bottom line

Clubs with fewer than 8 FPUSA members do not qualify for FPUSA affiliation. If such a club wants liability insurance, it will need to pay for it out of its own local club dues. Depending on the club’s location, such insurance may or may not be available and affordable.

For clubs with 8+ FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is a way to obtain free liability insurance. For a club large enough to consider becoming a corporate entity, FPUSA help in securing 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status can also be important.

For the serious individual player, FPUSA membership is required in order to compete in FPUSA-sanctioned tournaments at the regional and national level. In other countries, it may also be required in order to compete in any kind of competition.

For the casual player, perhaps the most compelling reason for FPUSA membership is that your FPUSA membership helps to keep your club’s total membership level above 8, thus keeping your club eligible for FPUSA affiliation and the liability insurance that goes with it. That’s why FPUSA membership may be included automatically in membership in your local club.

One argument for FPUSA membership is that your annual dues assist Team USA to travel to the world championships.  That’s true, but remember that only about $3 of your annual dues goes to support Team USA.  If you really want to help, donate $20 (or more!) to the team’s Facebook fundraiser.

There is also one intangible benefit to FPUSA membership.  Personally, I like feeling that I belong to the club.  I like carrying my FPUSA membership card in my boule bag, and I like being able to say that I am a card-carrying petanque player.  And as long as I have that card, I can harbor a secret fantasy of traveling to France and playing in La Marseillaise.  Priceless.

2 thoughts on “What are the benefits of FPUSA membership?

  1. If it is all about YOU, then look just at the benefits to self. But I would add a few that are about the greater good.

    • You also contribute to the promotion of petanque across the US. This includes special FPUSA programs to help clubs get started and promote themselves.
    • You help fund teams that represent the US in international competition with uniforms and travel. The FPUSA cannot fully fund those efforts, but with increased membership and dues they can do more.

    (This was a comment on an earlier draft of this post.)

  2. In April 2016 Carolina Petanque sent out this announcement. Since it has some information about how the tax-exempt status of FPUSA clubs, I thought I’d post it here. — Jules

    In the last few years, Carolina Petanque has considered whether to legitimize our club by applying for nonprofit status with the IRS. This has been an ongoing discussion between our club, the IRS, and FPUSA, with all three parties trying to find the best option for everyone involved. In 2015 FPUSA decided to allow its clubs to be a part of a group exemption filing with the IRS. Essentially, the IRS would examine a club’s operating documents, and if they were virtually identical to FPUSA’s mission and purpose, then that club could be an extension of FPUSA’s operations, and therefore covered under FPUSA’s nonprofit status. Just recently, our club was accepted to be part of this group exemption along with three other clubs in the country.

    While these developments won’t directly affect our members, they will have a significant and positive impact on our club. Carolina Petanque now has much more leeway for handling our club’s financial matters. In addition our club will now be able to do many things that will expand our operations and membership.

    As part of this group exemption, Carolina Petanque is now a 501(c)4 nonprofit, which under the IRS classification is considered a Social Welfare Organization. As a 501(c)4 organization, our club is eligible to receive grants and other types of revenue without paying taxes. Because we did not receive classification as a public charity 501(c)3, any donations made directly to our club are not tax deductible. However, if anyone is interested in making a tax-deductible donation, they can do so by making the donation to FPUSA, which will then route the funds to Carolina Petanque. Please contact me if you or someone you know is interested in doing this, and I’ll be happy to provide you information.

    This is a very exciting for Carolina Petanque and for petanque in the USA!

    ~ Kirk Edwards

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