If you are looking for a non profit that can host your local group for climate justice, we have created such legal entity and we are happy to share it with you. Read on.
When collectives or movements start organising, need money, receive money or have expenses, they feel like creating a bank account. But in who's name is this bank account going to be? Who will have access? Who will keep track of the expenses and donation in the spreadsheet, that everybody has access to and is a chaos in no time? And who feels like doing the tax reporting, payouts, etc.? This is exactly what fiscal hosts help collectives with.
A fiscal host serves as an 'administrative home' for collectives. Fiscal hosts, like All for Climate, are legal entities that can provide financial management, bookkeeping and legal support to all charitable collectives that don't feel like starting their own legal entity. Nevertheless, all collectives remain unincorporated partnerships, which means that they keep their full autonomy and legal liability.
In short: a fiscal host provides a bank account and a legal entity for all collectives they are hosting, like a big umbrella organisation.
We use the Open Collective platform to manage the job of being a fiscal host. It provides all the software to track budgets and expenses, to generate monthly and yearly reports and automate the bookkeeping. Via their dashboard, fiscal hosts get an overview of all transactions, and check especially these transactions that need attention (e.g. paying back expenses that have been approved by the collective as soon as there is enough funds to pay for them).
For collectives, the platform provides an opportunity to create their profile where the community can view the current balance, past transactions, make financial contributions and view the various updates (newsletters).
Every collective has at least two administrators (gender balanced) to manage that space. Their main job is to approve the expenses that members of the collective upload themselves (see also spending money). These admins get a report of all transactions, every month, automatically in their mailbox :-)
The platform enables collectives to keep their full autonomy and self organize, but still use the services of the fiscal host. Every collective has their own expense policy. The fiscal host merely serves as an administrative help and ensures that the values and principles of the All for Climate community are respected (mostly for ensuring transparency and accountability to that any donor can go through the record of all transactions and have a clear overview of how their money has been spent).
Using a shared non profit is a bit like sharing a house together. It is very convenient, we can share the burden of doing the admin, but it also comes with limitations.
The All for Climate fiscal host cannot take the legal responsibility of your actions, that would put all the other collectives whenever you do something (and some of the collective are actively engaged in actions of non violent civil disobedience, such as Extinction Rebellion).
That means that all active members of your collective share the responsibility (like unions).
You cannot engage the responsibility of the fiscal host, that means that you cannot hire someone, unless you hire a freelancer for a well defined task, for a defined amount of time.
You don't have direct access to your money. There is a well defined process to claim the money (see "How to spend the money on your balance"). It can only be spent to fulfil the mission of your collective (as defined by you, and approved by the admins of your collective), with proper documentation (expense receipt or invoice) and it takes a couple of days to be paid (for the fiscal host to process all the payments).
Think of the fiscal host like someone in your community offering their garage to store material for your project. You don't have the key of the garage but you can access it following some rules set by the owner of the garage to make sure that other groups can also benefit from this storage space. The only difference is that in this case, the All for Climate fiscal host is storing money.
The goal of All for Climate is to enable unincorporated groups of people to be able to receive and spend money in a transparent way. If your group already has a legal entity, then you don't need All for Climate.
You cannot use All for Climate as a way to channel the money to another legal entity, that would be breaking the promise made to donors that expect an itemized report on how the money is spent.
That's why, we require a much hire level of scrutiny for expenses of more than €1,000. We will usually ask you to break those down to smaller pieces in the interest of transparency whenever possible.
The only exception is when you are closing down your collective. If you still have a balance, you can decide to donate it to All for Climate or to another non profit that is also acting as a fiscal host on Open Collective, or to another non profit that is pursuing the same mission as your collective.