Friday, February 11, 2011

Community Garden Accounting Practices

A community gardener comments: “I am looking for advice/guidelines on correctly setting up our account for a new community garden I'm involved with. We have applied and received our first grant and are looking for the best way to deposit these funds and access them that is legal and ethical. We hope to become a 501(c) (3) in the future, but are not ready for that just yet.”

Suggestions include this one from a fellow community Gardener: “Do you have a separate bank account? Do you have a 501(c) (3) that can act as a fiduciary for you? How much money is it?

You can probably set up an account at your local bank or credit union. Set it up in the name of the Garden or whoever the check is made out to. You will need two signing officers at least, 3 is better, you will all have to go to the bank, with ID (two pieces, one with address, one with photo) and sign the papers, order the checks and there you go.”

Another community gardener suggested “Until you get an account in the name of your garden group, you can ask some other 501(c) (3) group to act as your "fiscal sponsor" and accept the check on your behalf. They would then release the funds to you. They would probably ask you to document the transaction and what/how you spend the money because once a group becomes a fiscal sponsor, they are also responsible to the original funder for the proper use of the money. Many non-profits will do this for free; some charge a small administrative fee. Some are more "hands-on" about managing this than others. Maybe there is some other local greening or environmental group, community service organization or even a local church/temple, etc., that would be willing to be your fiscal sponsor.”

My advice is for you to contact a lawyer and get real legal advice.

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