Help Me Contact My Heroes

In case you can’t tell by the writing style and sparse dates of all the past blog posts here, you should know I’m a fairly reserved guy. My wife actually bought me a shirt that says “Just shy, not anti-social. (You can talk to me!)”  I’m not always confident the middle part of that shirt’s declaration is completely true, so I don’t wear it very often. It is proof of my passion for human-centric Internet ownership that this blog exists at all, I’m putting my real name on it, and it has gotten this far with fiscal sponsorship and discussions with Internet-famous people.

Every well functioning non-profit needs more than one driver. In fact, before full incorporation and filing, independent 501(c)(3) organizations are each required to have a functioning Board of Directors. Fiscal sponsorees (like Data Roads Foundation) have a similar group called a Steering Committee. It’s usually also best to have a Board of Advisers, if not multiple Advisory Committees. These groups are almost always unpaid volunteers, even though they are all great leaders who would be paid a hefty sum for their services in the for-profit world.

There’s lots of advice out there about how to choose Board/Committee Members. My personal favorite advice is: advancing a shared social cause is a great excuse to contact and join your heroes. In this case, all of our official Steering Committee Meetings will be held online, so geography isn’t a choice limiter.

My list of the greatest heroes of causes related to Data Roads Foundation is below. Each nominee has a point of online reference next to their name, to show why they belong on this list:

The Data Roads Foundation Dream Team

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What is a “Fiscal Sponsor”?

Starting a nonprofit corporation is the most difficult type of legal incorporation you can accomplish in America today. The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has revoked 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from hundreds of thousands of charitable corporations, some within just months after they were first granted c3 status due to a computer glitch. This has devastating effects on the basic bookkeeping and survival of nonprofit activities worldwide. The IRS is widely known to be slow to grant c3 status — so slow that their computers immediately revoke it after determination letters are finally sent, because the proper Form 990 submissions are not in their system from the past 2 years (never mind it’s almost impossible to properly submit the Form 990 without first gaining nonprofit status and a corresponding Employer Identification Number)!

In other words: the IRS is so slow to acknowledge innovative nonprofit activity and its worldwide benefits that it makes new nonprofit incorporation nearly impossible, implicitly favoring for-profit activity instead.

For the reasons above, among others, the majority of responses to my early search for nonprofit startup advice can be summarized in one short emphatic phrase: “Find a fiscal sponsor!” So what the heck is that?

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