The ICPS Seed Bank is a member only seed exchange. Members may not resell Seed Bank seeds. There are also restrictions on the sale of plants from Seed Bank seeds by commercial growers as explained below. These restrictions result from the way the ICPS is incorporated.
The International Carnivorous Plant Society is a tax exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the USA tax code. Our primary goals are education, research, and conservation in the public interest related to carnivorous plants.
To maintain our tax exempt status there are rules the ICPS must follow with respect to fundraising activities we sponsor and to our relationship with other corporations and non-incorporated for-profit businesses. Violation of the tax code rules could potentially bankrupt the ICPS since we don't budget for taxes and penalties beyond our usual California state sales tax payments.
As a public charity, members of the ICPS can not themselves receive a financial benefit from membership. The ICPS has no employees and EVERYTHING done by members is done on a volunteer basis. The Carnivorous Plant Newsletter editors, the membership manager, the business manager, the seed bank manager, and the web site masters put in hours of work every week without compensation. Many of us don't ask for reimbursement of expenses related to our volunteer work. It is all on a volunteer basis. We get no free seeds.
Beyond knowing you are doing something to benefit the public at large by being a member of the ICPS, what other ways do members benefit? Members receive the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter. The ICPS budget is structured so that total costs of producing and mailing CPN are about the cost of membership. Because of this close association, membership payments can't be considered a donation for tax purposes. Remember, members can't get back more than they pay.
Another member benefit is access to the ICPS Seed Bank. The same rules apply here. The Seed Bank does not exist to make money for the ICPS and members may not directly benefit financially from the Seed Bank. The Seed Bank exists to further our primary goals of education, research, and conservation. As such, it is not consistent with the charter of the organization for members to resell seeds from the Seed Bank at a profit. There is also a fine line if members use the Seed Bank as seed stock for plants to be sold commercially. We want the rare plants to be available to the public and commercial growers who are members are allowed to order seeds and sell the plants from those seeds. It is expected that a commercial grower who gets seeds from the Seed Bank will in the future collect seeds for commercial use from their own plants and possibly donate seeds back to the Seed Bank.