Having grown up and spent much of my adult life engaged in a small independently owned free enterprise that designs and makes hand-crafted ceramics, I am very familiar with the Mussolini attitude being directed at small free enterprises by the non-profit sector, merely for being free enterprises, and this while the non-profit sector covets funding from large foundations created by publicly-traded corporations highly subsidized by taxes on the free enterprise economy. Any social criticism that might be directed at the large corporations that fund the non-profits is redirected to the small free enterprise sector, which by nature is an individualistic and independent culture. Central management hates that!
More importantly in the small free enterprise sector, ownership is dispersed among the many, which is the organizational structure of my fiscally sponsored project, while in the centrally managed economy, ownership of practically everything has been or is being transferred to corporate ownership, including business ownership, home ownership, intellectual property rights, and even our public educational system.
What is the Mussolini attitude? it is this:
Fascism sees in the world not only those superficial, material aspects in which man appears as an individual, standing by himself, self-centered, subject to natural law, which instinctively urges him toward a life of selfish momentary pleasure……..Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity The Doctrine of Fascism by Benito Mussolini 1932
A cultural message frequently delivered by the conglomerate of centrally managed public-private-for-profit-non-profit organizations is that they sincerely want to hear from “we the people”, but in my experience, that is all for show, and polling purposes.It was great to see that Secretary of State Bellows responded to citizen protests about the constitutionality of Trump’s presidential candidacy but my testimony against the repealed and replaced Boothbay School Charter was treated by my congressional representatives as a testimony that never happened, although it contained challenges to the constitutionality of the process that was transpiring and they have all taken oaths to uphold the Maine Constitution, and so should acknowledge and respond to a constitutional challenge presented in congressional hearing testimony, just as Shenna Bellows has done and explained her public duty with exceptional clarity.
I was going to link to my public testimony but, once again, when I went to the new location where I expected the public testimonies to be, they were nowhere to be found. However, I have recorded my testimony in this newsletter. It is here, and the shorter version that I read out loud is here.
There is an article in the Boothbay Register titled Maine CF grants available to Lincoln and Sagadahoc County nonprofits.
I recently attended a zoom meeting conducted by the Community Foundation (CF). It was the first time I attended a meeting where the group is subdivided into smaller “breakout groups” It’s an effective format because in smaller groups everyone gets a better chance to engage and so it feels more participatory.
However, afterward, there was no follow-up and no way to stay connected.,and no known publicly available record of what transpired in the breakout groups.
I attended a climate change meeting that used the same format and once again there was no follow-up and no way to stay connected. The breakout groups did not report back to the larger groups so it was a meaningful conversation that went nowhere beyond itself.
There was an article in the newspaper afterward that mentioned a goal of establishing priorities but didn’t establish any.
As a result of engaging with my breakout group, I established a community climate change priority, access and identifying endangered access points. As a community, we need topographical maps to identify vulnerable areas in our local geography. East Boothbay was brought up as having an endangered access point, but there wasn’t anywhere to go with that after the meeting.
That is, until a month later when wind and water destroyed the shore road at Ocean Point and flooded many areas. Nature was creating a topographical map that no one could avoid seeing, The road over the culvert in East Boothbay was flooded but not destroyed but the shore road was reduced to a pile of rubble.
After I saw the article in the paper about the grant deadline for the Community Foundation, I watched a video and learned that the Community Foundation is an umbrella organization for grants and independent donors in Maine. It is the central manager of the distribution of non-profit community funding resources in the state.
A. Organizational Structure The primary purpose of both trust-form and corporate-form community foundations is to provide charitable support to their local communities. They do this by building endowments with contributions from local residents, and administering them for the benefit of their communities. They also administer non-endowment funds.
K. COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONS by George Johnson and David Jones
My first impression of the Community Foundation was that of an independent organization involved in community development. Now I see it as a hegemonic organization, controlling all non-profit funding in the state or at least attempting to do so, but not actively involved in any projects of its own. It’s the Financial Authority of Maine for the nonprofit funding world. It treats me disrespectfully and is oppositional to the achievement of my goals.
The Hegemony accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the Hegemony
Andersen Design established the first ceramic studio in the region in 1952 which grew into a cluster ceramic industry of diverse ceramic studios independently owned by separate individual entities. The family-owned business taught the skills of making ceramics on the job, while paying wages and taxes and making contributions to various non-profit causes. Today the Community Foundation holds that neither Andersen Design nor myself benefit our community, in any way- identifying both persons as selfish individuals unqualified for community funding.
It is best to ignore such organizations despite their largesse and cultural dominance, lest they disrupt one’s energy to no one’s benefit, but first, it matters to tell our stories of our encounter with the Maine Community Foundation, for the benefit of a diverse historical narrative.
Usually, community foundations are non-operating charities. They do not operate museums, run homeless shelters, maintain community parks, or perform other services. They do charity by providing grants and gifts to local charities and charitable community projects. Their organized efforts to collect and distribute funds greatly benefit their local communities. Howard A. Sweet and Joanne R. Whiting, Community Foundations: Estate Planning’s Best Kept Secret, The Wisconsin Lawyer, June 1991, at 27, 28. source
The Community Foundation and the local Community Navigator evaluated Andersen Design’s assets as having no value to society, by which they mean their society of benevolent feudalism.
The same assets disqualified me for pro-bono legal services, leaving me, for the time being, to figure out the legal aspects of my situation on my own.
And so when I read the following, I took note:
An “endowment” is money or property donated to establish a permanent source of charitable funds. Typically, a donor will place his or her contribution in trust in the trust-form or in special fund in the corporate-form. The original donation is used to generate income, and the income is used for charitable purposes. “Non-endowment” funds are depleted annually and then replenished. source
Vast Power Used to Discriminate
Next, I read the section on the CF website on fiscal sponsorship and learned there was no point in applying for the Community Foundation’s grant program since the CF will only fund fiscally sponsored organizations, and by requiring a board, excludes fiscally sponsored individuals without due consideration of their project.
The Foundation likely does not often encounter fiscally sponsored individuals. My situation is unique, but typically, leadership does not recognize “unique” as it is part of the existing non-profit culture to treat all persons as equal, conflated in meaning with “identical”.
When I contacted my local economic development council for support in forming a museum of American Designer Craftsmen, I was told by the director, Wendy Wolf, “We can’t do anything to support individual businesses”. and
Go get help from your own peer group”.
It is a frequent leadership tactic to swap one role for another to avoid speaking truthfully, or else it is a cognitive disability, take your pick. I was not approaching the Joint Economic Development Council of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor for support of my “individual business” (Andersen Design). I approached the council as a citizen looking to form a museum. The council had just spent 79 thousand dollars of taxpayer money to hire a New York consultant firm to come up with a plan for our local community, a plan that recommended museums and I came to them with a fiscally sponsored museum concept, that was instantly rejected without discussion of its merits. If the rules for community funding require a board, then there should be an accessible pathway to acquiring a board for all. Instead here was my local economic council refusing to extend any support for my project as they used my property taxes to the benefit of their chosen peer group.
After reading the rules on the website, I wrote to the Foundation and asked if they could make the fiscally sponsored projects of individual project managers available to independent donors and received this response:
Thank you for reaching out with your question about fiscal sponsorship, and for providing us with a detailed background of your situation. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you any financial assistance. Our competitive grant programs are restricted to public charity organizations. As an individual, you are not eligible to apply either with or without a fiscal sponsor. As a community foundation, we are restricted by the IRS in the types of grants we can make and the types of organizations we can assist financially. We do support individuals with our scholarship programs, but that is not the type of aid you’re looking for. Our donors have access to our competitive grant proposals, however, again, can only grant to organizations that are eligible public charities or organizations that are eligible to receive fiscal sponsorship support; they are restricted, again by IRS regulations, from providing support to individuals.
I’m sorry, but as an individual, you are not eligible to receive support from us.
As it was described in the video, the Community Foundation is a central repository for all grant giving in Maine, or at least broad regions in Maine. With its vast power, the Community Foundation discriminates against the fiscally sponsored individual by requiring that there must be a board already in place and dictating the path the organizer must follow to get to the goal, without understanding or discussion, but the Foundation offers no support in finding a board. The message is the Foundation doesn’t believe in people, it believes in boards.
If the Foundation manages the distribution of multiple, if not all, non-profit funding in the state and claims to “bring people and resources together to build a better Maine, then shouldn’t it do that- starting with the people? If the Foundation requires that the individual have a board to apply for funding, then it should be the Foundation’s responsibility to make sure that support for finding a board exists when they distribute funding to other resources such as economic development councils.
Grassroots organizing starts with people. The Community Foundation is a part of the centrally managed economy that advances the policy of benevolent feudalism, redistributing wealth in the form of growth opportunities to the top of the economy and living rations to those whose income is median or below. That is the way the wealth redistribution system has worked since the centrally managed economy was deemed into existence in the 1970s and how the economy came to be structured as an ownership class-working class divide. The ownership class-working class divide serves the interests of the state and its private partners. A network of independently owned slipcasting studios (worker-owned means of production), as proposed in my project, does not align with the interests of the state and co. and vice versa.
From the perspective of central management, Andersen Design wasn’t supposed to happen and may not have happened if not for being established when conditions were favorable. The 1950s was the era of the American middle class. Andersen Design didn’t have the support of leadership but it had the support of the plethora of people who shared in the wealth of the nation, and so Andersen Design grew through people-to-people and business-to-business relationships.
When the centrally managed system was instituted in the 1970s it was promoted as angel investors coming to the aid of small businesses, but it was about creating an ownership class. Since the seventies ownership of just about everything has been transferred to corporate interests. Today’s “startup companies” are created to be sold as initial public offerings of publicly traded corporations.
Two goals were identified in the first version that I received from the Maine Legislative Library of the Governor’s Report of 1976. One goal was to create the Maine Capital Corporation, which arguably violated Article IV Part Third Section Fourteen of the Maine Constitution which prohibits the Maine Legislature from chartering corporations by a special act of legislation. The second goal was to eliminate the municipal referendum on public bonds, as provided for in the Home Rule Amendment of the Maine Constitution. The first goal transfers wealth to a private ownership class. The second goal removes the will of the people as an obstacle to governance by a power elite, which is achieved by other means in the Conditional Gifts statute of 1987.
Ownership of diverse types and sizes distributed throughout the economy is not in the interest of the ownership class-working class divide.
My project is principled in diverse types and sizes of ownership distributed throughout the economy and so the central managers of wealth redistribution have reason to treat my project as not having an existence, not even as an idea. As Mussolini said, “The state (or any instrument of central management) accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State. That can also be stated as the State does not acknowledge the existence of anything or anyone whose interests do not coincide with those of the State”.
I asked for the IRS regulation that prohibits the Community Foundation from including fiscally sponsored individuals, and why they cannot support fiscally sponsored individuals by making their projects available to individual sponsors who make independent donations.
I also commented that under their policy, they should remove the word “people” from their mission statement as “people” connotes individuals and so their mission statement can be interpreted as a misrepresentation.
I didn’t receive an answer to my request so I spoke about the discriminatory policy in comments to the article about the Foundation in the Boothbay Register and sent a link to the article to the correspondent from the Foundation.
Afterward, the conversation was bumped up to the Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer, who said this:
There is an excellent paper on the IRS website where you can also learn more about community foundations: (provides link) If you pay particular attention to page 18 and 19 you see we do not distribute funds to individuals. As such our governing documents prevent us from cutting checks to anything other than a 501 c 3. Even scholarship checks are not made out to the individual recipient they are distributed to the educational facility.
If one is fiscally sponsored that means funds are distributed to one’s fiscal sponsor, which is a 501 c 3 organization. That is in every definition of fiscal sponsorship. Does she think I do not know this?
I wondered why she did not provide the CF governing documents. I don’t see them on the website.
It was left up to me to determine which sections applied to the organization’s discrimination against fiscally sponsored individuals.
I looked up pages18 and 19 and found the most probably relevant words to be :
The most common situations where improper use of fiscal sponsors can be found are when contributions are intended for:`
(1) Individuals. Gifts to individuals lack public benefit and, therefore, do not qualify as charitable gifts. S. E. Thomason v. Commissioner, 2 T.C. 441 (1943); Tilles v. Commissioner, 38 B.T.A. 545 (1938)
The Individual vs. the Hegemony
The implication in reading those words, only, is that if a single individual is developing a project, the “gift” is considered to be a personal gift to the individual discrediting any work the individual has invested in the project as “having no value to society”. The words they wrote to me, personally, were As an individual, you are not eligible to apply either with or without a fiscal sponsor, – Yes I am not even eligible to apply! and why is that? From the words quoted above, it would appear to be because the Community Foundation defines all individuals as selfishly oriented, whether the individual is fiscally sponsored or not. That is the Community Foundation’s rule, not an IRS rule, or can the Foundation be serious about how they are interpreting the case law? (Did anyone at the Foundation read the case law? and I am the one who doesn’t deserve to be paid?)
The Community Foundation is disparaging my fiscal sponsor or any fiscal sponsor that would sponsor an individually managed project. and claiming they are required to be so withholding by IRS regulations.
Either the VP hasn’t done her homework on fiscal sponsorship or the VP thought she could pull the wool over my eyes when she made a ludicrous reference to not being allowed to distribute checks directly to the individual, which never happens with fiscal sponsorship.
Upon reading the case law it is clear that the IRS policy does not justify the Community Foundation’s policy. IRS tax law says that rules consider whether the project benefits an individual or an indefinite group of people,
These are the key points in the case law:
* * They may, and indeed must, be for the benefit of an indefinite number of persons; for if all the beneficiaries are personally designated, the trust *444 lacks the essential element of indefiniteness, which is one characteristic of a legal charity. * * *
* * * We do not think that it was the intention of Congress by the use of the language contained in the Revenue Act of 1921, and succeeding revenue acts, to allow the deduction from gross income of a charitable gift which was for the benefit of only one person. * * * S. E. Thomason v. Commissioner, 2 T.C. 441 (1943);
The Community Foundation applies its discrimination to individuals developing a project by defining any individual as acting in self-interest only without benefit to the larger society and therefore disqualified from applying for funding, precluding any possibility of considering the project pursued by the fiscally sponsored individual.
The CF discrimination policy is NOT supported by IRS rules. The Community Foundation is disparaging an indeterminate group of fiscal sponsors in as broad strokes as it is indiscriminately defining a fiscally sponsored individual as a selfish individual whose unacknowledged project serves no public benefit.
While telling me that the Community Foundation cannot help me in any way because I am an individual, both persons I spoke with mentioned the scholarship program prominently listed on the CF website and benefiting specifically determined individuals directly. My guess is that they didn’t read the case law Thomason v. Commissioner, 2 T.C. 441 (1943) and so did not understand the IRS meaning covered under the title “Individuals”. The short paragraph is very poorly written but it references case law. The case law concerns a donation given to sponsor an individual child at an orphanage, as opposed to a donation to the orphanage that benefits indefinite individuals. A donation made to benefit a particular orphan is equivalent to a scholarship. In both cases, the funding goes to benefit one individual rather than indefinite individuals, but the reasoning does not apply to my project in which I am the individual manager of a project that benefits indefinite persons unless the Foundation simply deletes projects developed by individuals, fiscally sponsored or not, from being considered at all, which is exactly what it says it is doing.
And so I said:
The project for which I am currently the sole custodian does not singly benefit myself, or any definite group of persons but is a concept for an indefinite society of designer craftsmen. The fact that I am currently alone without help from any community underscores that my project does not target a “single or definite group of persons” I wish it did. Then I would not be alone in this.
Of course, I received no reply to anything I said
This project is an inherited responsibility. I promised my Dad that I would do the right thing by the company that he created but my Dad is just another individual whom the Community Foundation dismisses because he is an individual. They declare that the history and tradition that I am trying to preserve for the benefit of future designer-craftsmen, living independent lifestyles outside of the corporate grid, serves no public benefit, which just means it does not serve their interests and values. Ditto, and vice versa!
I should not intermingle with the Community Foundation. Our interests do not coincide but I could start an Intentional Community Foundation supporting the small free enterprise community with others who have other types of assets to donate that complement my own. Intentional Community Foundations could be game-changers but I can’t do one alone. I have doubts that it is advisable to start such a foundation with my assets unless other assets make the inventory of assets complete enough to have real production value.
Fight feudalism with Innovation!
The Social Enterprise Model
Typically, the aim is to benefit a specific group of people, permanently transforming their lives by altering a prevailing socioeconomic equilibrium that works to their disadvantage. Sometimes, as with environmental entrepreneurship, the benefit may be extended to a broader group once the project has provided proof of concept. But more often the benefit’s target is an economically disadvantaged or marginalized segment of society that doesn’t have the means to transform its social or economic prospects without help.
The endeavor must also be financially sustainable. Otherwise the new socioeconomic equilibrium will require a constant flow of subsidies from taxpayers or charitable givers, which are difficult to guarantee indefinitely. To achieve sustainability, an enterprise’s costs should fall as the number of its beneficiaries rises, allowing the venture to reduce its dependence on philanthropic or governmental support as it grows. Harvard Business Review