What is the cost of fiscal sponsorship with Community Partners?
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. After a project’s first year with Community Partners, it will be required to raise funding sufficient to generate $2,000 in administrative fees ($22,500) or simply pay the full $2,000 minimum fee if it does not.
What are the benefits to becoming a nonprofit through fiscal sponsorship instead of forming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation?
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. There is a newer, simplified IRS form that shortens the process, but there are pros and cons that should be considered. 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. See our Mutual Expectations for more on the many benefits of Community Partners' fiscal sponsorship program.
Should I incorporate before I apply to Community Partners' fiscal sponsorship program?
No. Our program is an alternative to nonprofit incorporation.
My nonprofit is already incorporated. Can I still apply for fiscal sponsorship under Community Partners?
Yes. A number of established nonprofit organizations have chosen to make their home with Community Partners, appreciating a new operating structure that allows them to better focus on mission. Please indicate in your application to us that you have incorporated already. If you are accepted for fiscal sponsorship with us, you will no longer be able to conduct business under the incorporated entity. If there are any outstanding liabilities, you will not be considered for sponsorship until they are resolved.
What is the process for applying to Community Partners' 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. Follow the four steps to apply here.
What is the acceptance rate for proposals?
In the last few years we have accepted roughly 25 percent of the proposals we receive on an annual basis.
Is there a limit to how many projects Community Partners accepts?
No. Community Partners does not have a limit because we are interested in attracting 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.
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?
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.
How many projects does Community Partners' fiscal sponsorship program accept per 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.
How many projects does Community Partners have?
On average, Community Partners has between 140-145 projects in our fiscal sponsorship program.
How many pages does the proposal need to be?
We ask that you thoroughly answer all questions in the application, but limit your narrative proposal to no more than 10 pages.
How long is the proposal review process?
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.
Do you have sample proposals I can take a look at?
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.
I don't have any funds currently coming into the project, so how can I develop a budget?
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.
Do I need a board? If so, how many board members do you recommend?
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 (that is the role of the Community Partners board of directors), 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; from three to nine members is recommended.
I want to start a nonprofit but am also involved in similar activities for a business. Is this a problem?
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.). Some come 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.
Do you make grants to your projects?
If my proposal is turned down, may I re-apply?
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.
What makes for a strong 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.
Do you write grant proposals for your projects?
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.
Do you have office space we can rent?
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.
Is there a fee to submit a proposal?
No. There is no fee to submit a proposal.
Do you accept projects that operate outside Southern California? Do you accept projects that operate internationally?
Yes. We have projects based across California and in other states around the country. We will consider projects based in the United States with international components to their work. However, we cannot sponsor projects that plan to hire staff residing in other countries.
Are there types of projects Community Partners does not accept?
Community Partners does not accept profit-making ventures, one-time-only events, film or video projects (i.e. documentaries), or 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 welcome proposals from faith-based projects, as long as they do not:
- Require adherence to a particular religious faith or doctrine
- Make claims that a particular religion or religious tradition is the "one true religion" to the exclusion of all others
- Make claims or enact practices that privilege members of a particular religion or religious tradition, or discriminate against non-members of a particular religion or religious tradition
- Claim that one particular religion has replaced all other religions
- Require active participation in religious rituals
- Have as a primary purpose the advancement of prescribed belief or observance
Projects with a grounding in Jewish life should learn more about Community Partners' Project Partnership with Jumpstart www.ProjectPartnership.org.