Project Voices: Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth

Inspired by the dramatic success of restorative justice practices in South Africa and New Zealand, Dr. Fania Davis began exploring the possibility of an Oakland initiative. In 2005, with a small grant from Oakland-based Measure Y, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) was born! We spoke with Co-executive Director Teiahsha Bankhead about making broken bonds Read more

Project Voices: SF Dyke March

Celebrating 25 years this year, the San Francisco Dyke March brings dyke communities together to celebrate unity, raise consciousness, and be visible. The march and rally advocates justice for lesbians globally, by advocating against oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty. The annual march occurs during the week of Pride celebration, and falls on Saturday, June Read more

Project Voices: Startup Policy Lab

With its origins in a 2013 Meetup group, Startup Policy Lab works at the intersection of technology and government to promote innovative, open, and data-driven policymaking. We spoke with Founder and Executive Director Charles Belle about a big and unique event happening next month, inspiration and partnerships, the benefit and challenge of being nonpartisan, and his Read more

Project Voices: Latino Outdoors

Latino Outdoors is a network of leaders committed to engaging Latinos in the outdoors, connecting familias and youth with nature, and welcome local role models in share their personal stories on social media. Since their first California outing in three years ago, Latino Outdoors has seen explosive growth to regional community-based teams across the U.S. Read more

Project Voices: Memory Care Café

Memory Care Café is a Community Initiatives project that organizes informal meetings and social outings for people living in the Bay area with ‘forgetfulness’ (early-stage Alzheimer’s/dementia) and their care partners. We spoke with Program Director Patricia Ris and Development Director Debora Tingley about the necessity of social support services, fantastic partnerships, experimenting with marketing, and Read more

Project Voices: Help a Mother Out

Help a Mother Out is a Community Initiatives project that works to improve baby and family well being by increasing access to diapers for families in need. We spoke with founder Lisa Truong about their remarkable growth, valuing individual and collective impact, the importance of diverse funding streams, and more. What’s ONE thing you wish Read more

Announcing our new President & CEO

The Board of Directors of Community Initiatives is pleased to announce the selection of Ruth Williams as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Ruth has served on the Board of Community Initiatives for nearly 8 years, and as Chairman of the Board since 2014. Ruth was most recently Chief Operating Officer at the Osher Read more

Message from Community Initiatives’ Board Chair

I am writing to inform the Community Initiatives community that as of Friday, October 21, 2016, Theresa Fay-Bustillos resigned as CEO. Theresa plans to return to her private consulting practice where she is recognized as one of the Bay Area’s leading authorities in nonprofit strategic planning. During Theresa’s two and half year tenure, she moved Read more

A Client Centered Mindset

Projects may have noticed that we have started to refer to our Fiscally Sponsored Projects as both “clients” and “partners.” This is not a slip of tongue, but a deliberate step towards clarifying our role and relationship with the community we serve. We also are not abandoning the term project.  There are times its use Read more

Will Your Project Be a Leader on CI’s Board?

Diversity of skills and perspectives on a board is essential to board functionality and impact. Cultivating a diverse, robust board of directors makes any organization stronger, and it is just smart business! With diverse skill sets from some of your most committed supporters, nonprofits can have a high level of expert collaboration with a limited Read more

Our Unexpected Visitor: Leonor the Pigeon!

Sometimes at Community Initiatives, we have the opportunity to support our projects in unexpected ways. One such story happened last month, and it so fun and heartwarming, we just have to share it with our community. As many projects use our mailing address, we sometimes get unexpected visitors. Leonor showed up and needed a helping Read more

What Does Tax Season Mean for Tax Exempt Organizations?

While nonprofit organizations are tax-exempt, that does not mean we are completely free from IRS oversight. The IRS requires that nonprofit organizations annually submit very detailed information on “IRS Form 990,” commonly simply called “990.” The 990 requires a great deal of meticulous organization and information extraction in order to remain compliant with the law. Read more

CI’s Reimagined Vision, Mission and Values

For the past year and a-half, CI’s Board and staff have been engaged in an intensive strategic planning process. Many of our projects have contributed as well through surveys and interviews. We are proud to announce that the Board recently approved an exciting three-year strategic plan, which you will learn more about in the coming Read more

The Glass is 80% Full

Last fall, Community Initiatives commissioned a Satisfaction Survey to determine how well we are doing with our fiscally sponsored projects. This project was led by Professor Jeff Prottas of Brandeis University, and was informed by his extensive experience with nonprofits and fiscal sponsors. It was a confidential survey to projects to ensure the objectivity of Read more

Meet the Specialists

We are proud to report that our project satisfaction survey conducted independently and confidentially by Professor Jeff Prottas revealed that 92 percent of projects are satisfied with the new project specialist model. Thank you for being patient as we worked out the kinks in transitioning to this new way of supporting your work. We look Read more

The Power of Sharing, Part 1: Nonprofit Risk

In this three-part series, I will explore how fiscal sponsorship, particularly at Community Initiatives (CI) is thinking about the lessons and practices of the sharing economy in how it operates as a fiscal sponsor.

New Job Transitions

Starting a new job is exciting for both the employee and the supervisor and it’s a critical transition to get right. The employee is looking forward to learning more about the organization and being successful at a new job and the supervisor is looking forward to welcoming and developing a new team member. Below are Read more

The New Normal of Nonprofit Turnover

Employee turnover is a challenge and a reality that all nonprofit organizations face.  Community Initiatives is no exception, and all of our nonprofit projects are experiencing turnover at a rate higher than in decades past.  It is critical for projects to think of themselves as institutions that can thrive outside of the personalities and knowledge Read more

What is the Role of Advisory Committees?

Fiscally sponsored projects, like those in the CI network, are different from nonprofits in a number of ways. A prominent example is that because the CI board holds fiduciary responsibilities for all projects, the projects themselves don’t have formal boards, but every CI project has an advisory committee. Committee members represent an abundant built-in resource; Read more

One Year Later: CI is Embracing the Future

Community Initiatives CEO, Theresa Fay-Bustillos reflects on her first year at the helm. It has been just over a year since I joined Community Initiatives (CI) as CEO, and what a year it has been! Last month we closed out FY15 and our board approved the budget and plan for FY16, so now is the Read more

Announcing Project Priorities!

Just last week, we launched our inaugural issue of Project Priorities, the new Community Initiatives Newsletter. Project Priorities will be your source for important updates from CI, high-value tips, information about your peers’ projects, as well as funding and employment opportunities. The title itself, Project Priorities, reflects the central value at CI that we are here to Read more

Introducing WeDidIt, CI’s New Fundraising Platform

We have heard loud and clear that our projects are dissatisfied with our previous fundraising platform, Network for Good. Projects have told us that Network for Good requires too many clicks, it is hard for donors to find projects, and projects don’t have immediate access to their data and accounts.  As a result, projects have Read more

What Do Projects Need In 2015?

The nonprofit world is a dynamic space, and the services that fiscal sponsors offered a decade ago are not sufficient in 2015. Community Initiatives serves 95 projects, making us well positioned to observe challenges and solutions common to our network. It has become clear to us that projects would benefit from additional support in two Read more

We’ve Listened To You!

You should not have to memorize our organizational chart to get the support you need or keep track of the new services we are offering—as a full-service fiscal sponsor we should be proactive in how we respond and suggest solutions and options.  During this year of staff transition, you have expressed some confusion about how Read more

Spring Means…Annual Report Season

Spring is a great time to examine the fruits of the seeds planted the previous year. If our projects are our seeds, our team is working to water and feed them every day. The fruit they bear as a result feeds the community we proudly serve. In the nonprofit community, many of us use the Read more

Gayle Sheehan Joins CI as Director of Program Services

Community Initiatives is thrilled to welcome Gayle Sheehan to our team as Director of Program Services. Gayle joins Community Initiatives after more than two decades with the Sierra Club, most recently as the Director of Compliance and Operations Strategy. While at the Sierra Club, she worked with volunteers and staff on compliance with tax and Read more

Announcing CI’s new President & CEO

The Board of Directors of Community Initiatives is pleased to announce the selection of Theresa Fay-Bustillos as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Theresa joins Community Initiatives on July 1 from Ideal Philanthropy & Sustainability, where she has been Managing Director for the past four years. Ideal Philanthropy & Sustainability is a global consultancy Read more

A farewell from our CEO

Dear Friends and Colleagues, As most of you already know, I have been planning for some time to return to consulting this summer. My final day at CI will be July 2. All of us here have spent the past year preparing for this transition, and I want to assure you that the team in Read more

Crowdfunding strategy part III: it’s launch time!

Your strategy is in place and your network is raring to promote your cause. The link to your campaign site is live and your first social media posts are making their way through the Internet. You have launched your first campaign! What now? During the campaign you want to make sure you’re thanking donors and recognizing them on Read more

Crowdfunding strategy part II: the pre-campaign plan

Your organization is ready to launch a crowdfunding campaign. You’ve put together a fundraising strategy, you’ve figured out where online fundraising fits within that strategy, and you have the staff and supporters lined up to get started. Now what? Here are some tips for planning your pre-campaign calendar. Six weeks to one month in advance: Have Read more

Want to launch a crowdfunding campaign? Let’s talk strategy.

Your organization has been testing the waters of social media for awhile, and now you want to venture into the world of online fundraising: you want to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is a powerful tool, but it’s more work than just creating a page on a fundraising website. Here are some things to consider before you Read more

In our project’s own words: why Dalai Lama Fellows chose fiscal sponsorship

We’ve spent the past several weeks writing about the intricacies of fiscal sponsorship, from what it is and why it is important in the nonprofit sector, to how to research and apply for sponsorship and determine the best fit for your emerging idea. We could continue on in this vein for several more weeks, but hearing Read more

How do I choose the best fiscal sponsor for my project? Part II

With an assessment of fit and an understanding of the types of fiscal sponsor relationships complete, it’s time to look at a few other factors that will help you choose the best fiscal sponsor for your idea or project. Location While many of the tasks of fiscal sponsorship can be easily accomplished from a distance, Read more

How do I choose the best fiscal sponsor for my project? Part I

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about the process of choosing a fiscal sponsor. Once you have done the research, it’s time to determine which sponsor will be the best fit for your project or idea. Here are some factors to consider while making your decision: Type of fiscal sponsorship relationship There are Read more

Is the Form 1023 EZ the right solution to the IRS’ problems?

Last month, The IRS announced it would introduce an EZ version of Form 1023, the application for 501c3 tax exempt status. The IRS intends for this three-page form to enable organizations to more easily and quickly apply for nonprofit status. The IRS expects the EZ form will cut the amount of time needed to fill out an Read more

Celebrating local philanthropy

In 2014, community foundations celebrate 100 years of locally-focused philanthropy. In honor of that milestone, on May 6 community foundations around the country are participating in Give Local America, a 24-hour online giving campaign. Much like Giving Tuesday, the post-Thanksgiving day of online fundraising, the goal of Give Local America is to merge the power Read more

How do I find a fiscal sponsor for my nonprofit project?

Now that you’ve decided to explore fiscal sponsorship as an alternative to – or while waiting for – 501c3 determination, how do you locate potential fiscal sponsors? A good first step is the online directory at It lists more than 140 sponsors nationally and gives brief profiles of their services and requirements. While any existing 501(c)(3) Read more

Nonprofit vs. fiscal sponsor: how much time does the application process take?

Now that we’ve covered the costs of starting a nonprofit vs. becoming a fiscal sponsor, let’s address the issue of time involved in each endeavor. If you intend to start your own nonprofit organization, you will need to allocate time to the following legal matters: Finding a reputable nonprofit attorney Meeting with that attorney Providing Read more

How do I start a nonprofit organization?

Last week, we provided a little history on the nonprofit sector and fiscal sponsorship. This week, we tackle the question: how do you start a nonprofit? Once you have an idea for your project, there are two ways to start your organization. You could file to become a nonprofit corporation in the state where you Read more

What is fiscal sponsorship and why should I care?

Today we are launching a series of posts to help readers better understand the sometimes arcane field of fiscal sponsorship. It is addressed to those new to this concept. We are assuming the reader knows nothing, so our apologies to those who already know a lot. We plan to also use this space to invite Read more

Joining the revolution

Worldwide, two blogs are launched every second. Today, Community Initiatives joins the revolution.

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