When the earthquake in Haiti was reported, Peter Groverman, a 27-year-old Villanova Law Student, received a text message that sparked a humanitarian mission. He told Philly.com the message from a friend read, “Are we going to Haiti?” He instantly knew he not only want to go to Haiti, but he wanted to form a nonprofit that would enable his community to arm him with much-needed items.The resulting Relieving and Embracing Lives Interrupted by Earth’s Forces Foundation – RELIEF – got volunteers through Facebook and donations via text within a few days. The RELIEF founders chartered a plane, put together a medical team, and partnered with a charity already working in Haiti.
Although RELIEF does not yet have it’s own non-profit status, (they are still working on the complexities of the IRS 501(c)(3) form 1023) donors are able to make tax-deductible donations under Operation Clean the World’s tax-exempt status. This is due to a fiscal sponsorship agreement which was put in place prior to collecting donations for Haiti.
So far, RELIEF has received nearly $350,000 in cash and goods for their relief efforts.
Other entrepreneurs who are inspired by Haiti or other community tragedies and want to form a nonprofit might be well-advised to file for their 501(c)(3) status before receiving donations to ensure good practices and donor trust.