New Vrindaban’s ECOV Becomes an Integrated Auxiliary

From GEETA to ECOV and Beyond

Interview with Chaitanya Mangala dasa of the ECO-Vrindaban Board

Lilasuka (LS): Hare Krishna, Chaits.  We hear that some exciting changes are going on with GEETA/ECOV. Can you tell us what this is about?

Chaitanya Mangala (CM):  I’d be happy to. First of all, let’s start with some basics, ISKCON New Vrindaban is a 501C3 non-profit religious entity founded in 1968, and recognized by the IRS as a church. Thirty years later, in 1998, GEETA was formed, when ISKCON New Vrindaban was re-organizing and establishing several new entities. This re-grouping was done as New Vrindaban was realigning with the broader ISKCON and looking for ways to move closer to Srila Prabhupada’s vision for the community. There’s been a lot of talk about clarifying and understanding Srila Prabhupada’s Vision for N.V. lately, right?

LS:  There sure has!  We spent a lot of time the past couple of years researching and discussing this vision, which includes five main aspects, all centered, of course, around the main goal of loving Krishna. The four supporting themes are holy pilgrimage, spiritual education, self-sufficiency and cow protection.

CM: Right. So the mission of GEETA (an acronym for “Gorakshya-seva and Environmental Education Trust of America, Inc.”, by the way) is to educate the public on the benefits of the sustainable agricultural and cow protection aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s vision.

New Solar Panels at the main barn

View of ECOV’s main Valley Barn

LS: You talk about GEETA and ECOV. What is the difference?

CM:  It’s simple. In September 2013, GEETA legally changed its name to ECO-Vrindaban. Our acronym, “ECOV” stands for Earth, Cows, Opportunities & Vrindaban Villages. At the same time, we applied with the IRS to become an integrated auxiliary of ISKCON New Vrindaban. An issue arose when we realized that most of our income would soon come from gas royalties. We found out that unless we obtained an integrated auxiliary status, similar to that of a church, the IRS would reclassify our organization as a private foundation and we would have to pay annual tax to the IRS on royalty and investment income.

LS: So there’s not really any vital difference between GEETA and ECOV?

CM: Correct.  For all day-to-day operations, there is no difference between GEETA and ECOV.  It is the same organization, continuing to perform the same services it has for the last 15 years. The difference is a technical shifting of the code by which the IRS recognizes our non-profit status.

LS: So is this change complete and official?

CM: Not totally.  ECOV applied for the new IRS status the first week of October, 2013.  It will take approximately one year for the IRS to process the application. In the meanwhile, we are allowed to act as if the request was accepted as we wait to hear a response from them.

LS:  Do you think this is a good thing?

CM: Definitely. This change of ECOV into an integrated auxiliary of ISKCON New Vrindaban is clearly bringing the two organizations closer together in our combined efforts to serve Srila Prabhupada’s grand vision for New Vrindaban.

LS: Thanks very much for the clarification, Chaits!  Hare Krishna.

CM: My pleasure. Thank you, Lilasuka, for the opportunity to share this with you and the New Vrindaban residents and well-wishers.

Gardening at New Vrindaban

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