Civic News

Lending fiscal sponsorship to civic projects nationwide: ioby

Being able to provide tax deductions for donations was extremely important for neighborhood nonprofits, a survey by the Gowanus-based crowdfunding platform found. So ioby built a solution.

Brandon Whitney, ioby cofounder, at a 2012 event.

(Photo courtesy of ioby)

Gowanus-based ioby is a nonprofit crowdfunding platform. It announced this week that it’s sharing a new service with groups using ioby nationwide. If a project doesn’t have the backing of an existing, incorporated 501(c)(3) organization, ioby will serve as its fiscal sponsor, which means contributions to the project will still be tax deductible.

“ioby” stands for “in our back yards,” as in, the opposite of NIMBY.

What this all means: If you live on a block in Indianapolis, for example, and your neighbors have come together to convince the owner of a vacant lot to open it up, clear it out and put in a community garden, you could just raise money to rent the equipment you need to haul off all the junk. But, if your group were an informal group, money donated to the effort wouldn’t be tax deductible, because your neighbors are not a recognized 501(c)(3).

With ioby’s new service, the company shares its nonprofit status with projects nationwide, so donors can claim the gift as a tax write-off. Previously, ioby had offered this service in the greater New York City area, Miami and Memphis. In these areas, approximately 60 percent of the projects on the site took advantage of fiscal sponsorship, according to a press release from the organization.

“We surveyed ioby leaders in New York, Miami and Memphis, and found that providing tax deductions for donations was especially important in the lowest income neighborhoods where we work,” said Brandon Whitney, ioby cofounder and COO.

To be eligible for fiscal sponsorship, projects must meet these criteria, according to the press release: “leaders must live in the neighborhood where the project is taking place, have explicit goals to make their neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable, make no profit and benefit the public, and have tangible, measurable and measured results.”

Here are some Brooklyn projects successfully funded with the platform:

ioby operates out of the Brooklyn Creative League, which we visited here. Since launching in 2009, just under $1.2 million has been raised on the platform and 19 percent of its projects are in Brooklyn, according to its about page.

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