Morning, munchkins...

This morning I go back to the Foundation Center -- the free class I went to yesterday was helpful, and I think I now have at least a basic understanding of fiscal sponsorship, which is very useful.

They said that 90% of grants are only available to other non-profits, which means that if you, as an individual, want to apply for one of those grants, you're best off doing it in partnership with a non-profit which would act as your fiscal sponsor. How would this work? If I get it right, like this:

  • You want to teach at the Strange Horizons workshop, and get paid for it. SH can't afford to pay you.

  • You look around and find a grant which supports science fiction writing education (perhaps from a science foundation).

  • You talk SH into being your fiscal sponsor.

  • You fill out a grant application to the science foundation, listing SH as the sponsor.

  • They decide this is worthy, and give SH $500.

  • SH keeps a percentage (standard appears to be 7-15%, though it can go almost as high as 30%) of that money as payment for dealing with the bookkeeping, and gives you the rest to do the class. SH has to declare that income on their taxes (this is significant in part because if SH has gross income over $25,000, it puts them in a different category with the IRS).

  • The foundation is happy, because they got to give the money to a non-profit, and thus took a tax deduction for it (making their money stretch further). SH is happy, because they now have a new program they didn't need to raise money for. You're happy, because you got $450 to teach a class, instead of nothing.

  • The main downside is that you (and your teaching) are now a program of SH -- if they decide that next year, they'd rather hire someone else to teach that class, you're out of luck. SH also gets to tell you how to teach it, if they want, since they have a financial investment in it (you may not choose to listen, but that makes it more likely they'll hire someone else next year). SH will probably also require some sort of reporting from you, to document for their records. So you should only partner with an organization you trust and have a good relationship with.
This is something SH could do -- more importantly, it's probably the sort of thing the SLF should be doing. Someone asked us about this recently, about serving as fiscal sponsor for a new ezine (one with a speculative fiction focus, but serving the East Asian community). I had no idea what she was talking about -- now I do. My next step will be to explain fiscal sponsorship to the SLF staff, explain why we should probably be willing to act as one in principle, and then show them this proposal so that we can decide whether we want to support this particular one.

Complicated. Interesting. :-) I don't know if this morning's classes will offer anything as interesting, but it seems worth checking them out.

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