As a member of the board of advisers for two start-up nonprofits, I've learned a secret: You need a fiduciary sponsor. In other words, you need an established nonprofit to help incubate your start-up nonprofit. Aging in Place in Darien, for example, is being sponsored by the Community Fund of Darien. All fund raising is done under the Community Fund banner, and then the money designated for AIP gets funneled to us. This way we get to make sure our concept, mission and vision are all viable. We can fine-tune our strategic business plan. And if we decide that we are worthy enough to become an independent nonprofit, we have an office to work from and funds to keep us going as we fill out all the forms for the state and the IRS.
It helps to be able to show the IRS that the organization is a viable one that meets a real public need. All the business details that IRS wants to know about, we can answer because we have been up and running.
The key to finding a fiduciary to accept donations and provide incubation is discovering one whose mission meshes with your own. Then, you need to work out a contract that stipulates how you will interact with each other. There are lawyers who specialize in such matters. Go out and find one -- preferably one that will do the work pro bono or for a reduced fee.