Fourth in the series from the Executive Committee
We know that many of you are interested in MALCS’s status as an organization. Of particular interest is this question: Are we a 501c3 organization? The short answer to that question is no. Currently, we are an organization registered in California operating under the fiscal agency of The Chicana/Latina Foundation (CLF), a 501c3 organization. If you’d like more information about this organization, you can meet Olga Talamante, the Executive Director, at the Summer Institute. She will be presenting a workshop on Friday, August 5, 9-10:15 a.m. If you aren’t going to the Institute this summer, please feel free to check out the CLF website. You can find it at https://www.chicanalatina.org/ What I present here is an explanation of our organization’s fiscal status.
A Short History
At its inception, MALCS thought of becoming an independent organization but because it was housed at UC Davis, it was under the auspices of the Chicana/Latina Research Center for many years. This partnership with the Center and the University was financially advantageous. While there were some donations that supported the journal, the journal was largely funded by the university. In addition, all financial business was conducted via the university.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Ada Sosa Riddell, our founder, registered MALCS as a state organization in California. She also established a bank account for our membership funds. Although Dr. Sosa Riddell and others looked into getting federal status as a 501c3, they did not complete the process.
As MALCS separated itself from the Chicana/Latina Research Center and the University of California, Davis, we began to conduct all our MALCS business via the institutions with which we had working relationships: the universities that organized our summer institute and the universities that hosted the journal. We were able to process all necessary financial transactions through these institutions. In addition, we were generating less than $10,000 a year. At the time, there seemed to be no need to pursue 501c3 status.
501c3 or a Fiscal Agent?
As we have developed, grown and formalized MALCS as an organization, the financial circumstances have changed. We now make more than $25,000 annually, which is the threshold for filing taxes for an organization. When this happened, I brought up this question: should we once again look into becoming our own 501c3 organization? Or should we find a fiscal agent who would formally help us keep our organization in good fiscal standing?
At the time, I proposed to the Executive Committee that we pursue a fiscal relationship with an established organization. I argued that until MALCS has the capacity to pay formal staff, we shouldn’t and couldn’t move on the 501c3. As an all-volunteer organization, it is difficult to build the financial infrastructure necessary for 501c3 status. An established fiscal agent would provide the necessary administrative infrastructure for our fiscal matters. The Executive Committee agreed.
The relationship we have developed with the Chicana Latina Foundation, an organization whose mission is “to empower Chicanas/Latinas through personal, educational, and professional advancement,” is a good match for us and one which we need to take advantage of as part of our pipeline for Chicanas in higher education and community leadership. There are other advantages as well: 1) donors are still able to make tax-exempt donations, and 2) MALCS does not take on the fees that are often associated with becoming a 501c3 including paying staff salaries and benefits, worker’s compensation, board insurance, annual taxes, etc. In addition, our relationship with this organization offers some opportunities to partner on grants, something which funders look favorably on. We pay the Chicana/Latina Foundation $1500 a year to serve as our fiscal agent.
Making a Donation to MALCS
The issue of being our own 501c3 comes up regularly when members donate and need proof of their donation. There is no problem with individual donations. Any of our mujeres can make a donation and use the Chicana Latina Foundation tax identification number for the write-off. If interested, please contact me for that information
When individual donors give funds to CLF for MALCS, they go into a sub account for us where this money is held until we need to use it. When we request those funds, we follow CLF administrative procedures. When we write/receive grants, we will use CLF procedures again to use and track the funds.
A Few Other Notes
I just have a few other things to say about this arrangement and the opportunities it offers. By way of self-disclosure, I sit on the board of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, currently as co-president. I am recommending that our administrative coordinator (currently, me) submit formal reports to both the MALCS Executive Committee/membership and to CLF so there is transparency on our proposed and actual use of MALCS funds. And finally, I look forward to sitting down and brainstorming with MALCS members about future fundraising plans to support the important work we do on campuses and in communities.
Lupe Gallegos Diaz
MALCS Administrative Coordinator