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What are the benefits to becoming a nonprofit through fiscal sponsorship instead of forming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation?
My nonprofit is already incorporated. Can I still apply for fiscal sponsorship under Community Partners?
I have a draft of my proposal. Can someone at Community Partners review it and give me feedback on whether it is ready for submission?
I want to start a nonprofit but am also involved in similar activities for a business. Is this a problem?
Do you accept projects that operate outside Southern California? Do you accept projects that operate internationally?
Starting a nonprofit through a fiscal sponsor is easier for two reasons: time and money. The process of forming a nonprofit corporation and applying for tax exemption from the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board is expensive (typically requiring a lawyer), and generally requires a minimum of six months. Under a fiscal sponsorship relationship, your nonprofit can usually get off the ground in 6-8 weeks or less with low or no upfront costs.
No. Our program is designed to help projects that have not yet incorporated.
Yes. However, you must disclose in your application that you have incorporated already. If you are accepted for fiscal sponsorship, you may not conduct business under the incorporated entity while you are a project of Community Partners. If there are any outstanding liabilities under the incorporated entity, you will not be considered for sponsorship until they are resolved.
As of June 2011, Community Partners has roughly 110 projects in our fiscal sponsorship program.
Applications for project sponsorship are accepted on the first of every month. Proposals are rigorously reviewed by Community Partners staff, board members and community advisors. We invite the leaders of projects that are strong candidates for fiscal sponsorship to meet with us, briefly present their project and answer questions. Final determination of sponsorship is made by the full board of Community Partners. If all information is in order, the project review process takes approximately six weeks.
It takes Community Partners a minimum of six weeks to accept or deny a proposal. This six-week cycle begins the first of every month. For example, if you submit a proposal on the 4th of the month, Community Partners will not begin the review process for that proposal until the 1st of the next month.
Community Partners does not have a quota for the number of projects accepted per month. We review and accept proposals based on their individual merits and how well they fit our selection criteria.
No. Community Partners does not have a limit because we are interested in getting qualified proposals. If we have 10 proposals submitted in a month but they do not meet our criteria, we will not accept any of those proposals. If we receive two in a month and they meet our criteria, we will accept both.
In 2010, we received 36 proposals and accepted 9 new projects, an acceptance rate of 25%.
We do not have a page minimum or maximum for submitted proposals. However, we require that you thoroughly answer all the questions in the proposal.
No. Unfortunately, Community Partners does not have the staff capacity to review drafts of proposals. We recommend asking your advisory board members to review your proposal and offer you feedback before you submit it to Community Partners.
No, but they probably wouldn’t help you in any case, as every nonprofit is unique. We are looking for clear and thoughtful answers to each question asked in the proposal.
A strong proposal will answer all the questions and present a clear, viable vision for a project with demonstrable impact, real prospects for funding and the support of an advisory board that can help move the project’s goals forward. We often deny sponsorship to proposals that do not make a clear case for the need, goals and objectives of the program and/or that exaggerate claims of financial or stakeholder support.
Budgeting is a critical aspect of program planning. Even if you have not yet raised funds, you will need to determine the costs of putting your vision into action. You will also need a variety of revenue sources to pay those expenses. We provide a budget template with the application in order to help you map out revenues and expenses for your project’s next year.
In reviewing your proposal, we are looking for a realistic projection of what your project will cost and a strong plan for raising those funds. Your expenses should reflect the activities you describe in your proposal. While you may not yet have commitments for grants, individual donations, or other fundraising activities, we are looking for evidence that you have researched these possibilities. For example, it is not enough to list “Grants” alone as a line item; you must identify foundations that have historically given to your type of nonprofit, and at what levels.
All projects under Community Partners’ fiscal sponsorship must have an advisory board that provides oversight and guidance for the project. While the advisory board does not have legal responsibility for your project, it typically fulfills many of the roles usually held by boards of directors, including resource development, serving as ambassadors for the project, and providing program and financial oversight. The size of your board should be manageable for a start-up organization; usually from three to nine members.
We sometimes receive proposals from entities that could operate either as a business or a nonprofit (e.g. consulting, arts programs, counseling, products of use to nonprofits, camps, after-school programs, etc.), or from individuals or groups that offer a service through a business and would like to offer the same service on a free or reduced-cost basis to disadvantaged communities. These types of proposals receive extra scrutiny because our tax-exempt status requires that we only sponsor programs with true and unambiguous public benefit. We do not accept projects that appear to benefit an individual or business entity in any way. However, please note that for-profit entities can operate charitable programs, although they cannot accept tax-deductible contributions for doing so.
Typically, if your proposal is turned down, you will receive a letter or phone call that will explain the reasons why it was turned down. While you are allowed to rewrite your proposal and re-apply, we recommend that you honestly and sufficiently think through and address the reasons we give you for having rejected it. Keep in mind that if you do re-submit a proposal, there is no guarantee that it will be accepted the second time around.
No, our model is to provide counsel and training to help you build the skills you need. We review all grant proposals and provide feedback before you submit them to funders.
Approximately 10 percent of Community Partners’ projects are co-located with our core staff. Availability of space in our office varies. If your project is accepted for sponsorship we can discuss co-location availability, costs and options.
There is no fee to submit a proposal. Once a project is accepted for fiscal sponsorship and signs a project sponsorship agreement, Community Partners charges 9% on all funds raised from private grants, individual contributions, fees for service, or other activities. We charge 12% on all government grants and contracts (because these funds are more complicated to administer), including federal, state, county, city, or school district funds.
The majority of our projects are based in California. While our preference is for projects whose leadership is located in Southern California, in special circumstances, we will consider projects from other states or based in the United States with international components to their work. We will base our evaluation of these proposals on the liabilities associated with the project and Community Partners’ capacity to oversee them as well as the project leader’s ability to manage such a project. However, we cannot sponsor projects that plan to hire staff residing in other countries.
Community Partners does not accept profit-making ventures, one-time-only events, film or video projects (i.e. documentaries), and projects where housing is a key element (i.e. transitional housing, domestic violence shelters, foster youth homes). Additionally, we do not accept projects that routinely litigate or practice medicine due to the liability associated with those types of projects.
We accept faith-based projects only under specific circumstances. For more information, please click here.
Community Partners collaborates with an organization called Jumpstart to support the development of innovative new Jewish projects that work for an open, inclusive, and expansive Jewish life, as well as benefit the broader society and the world. Partnership Projects are fiscally sponsored by Community Partners and receive technical assistance and capacity-building assistance from Jumpstart. More information is available at www.ProjectPartnership.org.