Academy for the Peace & Dignity of the Commonwealth was formed in September of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic as a Virginia nonstock corporation. Within days our application for recognition of exemption was filed with the Internal Revenue Service seeking determination of our 501c3 status. Delays due to the pandemic resulted in our final determination letter arriving in early December, and we were pleased to be able to begin to get to work.
We have not focused on fundraising. Our plan of action for this endeavor is to first build a solid foundation from which to initiate the enterprise. Several companies make available to 501c3 organizations annual grants of software and services that combined form a rather impressive virtual infrastructure from which to begin to operate.
- Microsoft for Nonprofits provides free licenses for board members to their Microsoft 365 cloud service, including among other applications & services, access to Microsoft Office products, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Azure AD. In addition, Microsoft provides $3500/yr. in Azure Cloud credits to host applications, virtual desktops, servers, etc. Microsoft also put us in touch with a Gold Partner who has provided free advice & consulting and is putting us together with vendors to access donated hardware for our small Azure hosted, multi-session Windows Virtual Desktop VDI pool.
- Google for Nonprofits provides free licenses for initial staff to Google Workspace and $10,000/mo. in Google Search credits to qualifying organizations.
- SalesForce provides the first batch of perpetual licenses granting access to their Nonprofit Cloud that offers an industry leading, cloud hosted CRM platform, customized for nonprofits.
- ESRI Nonprofit Program gives access to deeply discounted software licenses for their flagship software products and online services, including ArcGIS Desktop and Online versions & credits.
- DreamHost provides excellent, free WordPress web hosting and support to nonprofits.
- Okta for Nonprofits offers free access to the initial licenses for their cloud-based MFA & SSO integration platform.
- Splunk for Good provides a free 10G data ingress to Splunk and access to free consulting services to optimize your implementation.
Together this equates to nearly $200,000 in startup costs avoided. This allows us to focus on preparing the mundane backend we need to operate and develop our first programs and projects without having to spend all of our time fundraising or writing grant proposals. Most of these grants include access to free or deeply discounted training, support, consulting services and even certification programs for staff.
For these contributions to our ability to stand up the Academy and PeaceForge we are most grateful.
Two significant events in the early life of a nonprofit are:
- Receipt of the final determination letter from the IRS, which we have since December, that provides the credential necessary to begin to engage with the above organizations to gain access to their programs for nonprofits.
- Inclusion in the IRS Business Master File (BMF) which is a series of files that are regularly updated (typically monthly) that list all nonprofit entities in the nation, including those that have for some reason lost their status. It is this file, because it includes all entities (existing, new additions, and revocations) some institutions use as the source of truth for the determination that an entity claiming to be a 501c3 nonprofit is genuine.
As of yesterday we are informed by the IRS to expect to be included in the next release of the BMF, likely to be posted next month (April 2021). What this means for us is by the end of the following month (May 2021) we expect to be identified by GuideStar.org and included in the Candid platform as a fully vetted tax exempt nonprofit 501c3 corporation with confirmation for prospective donors that contributions to Academy for the Peace & Dignity of the Commonwealth are indeed, tax deductible.
In preparation to arrive at that milestone, through the vehicle of PeaceForge, we will initiate a campaign to introduce our project, mission, and purpose at the end of March 2021 using the resources and developed infrastructure created from the grants of software & services noted above.