Open Collective
Open Collective
Community Kitchen needs a little extra lift!
Published on March 9, 2024 by Eileen King

Edited: you've all blown us away with swift and strong support - thank you! See the comment below for suggestions of other local groups that also need community behind them through this transition.

To all our financial supporters, large and small, near and far, regular and one-time,

Thank you for the part you’ve all played in making 60,000+ meals happen over the last few years. It’s been incredible to see what can be done by a large group of people each contributing a couple of hours a week combined with an even larger group chipping in a couple of dollars a month - collective power in action!

We’ll keep this as simple as possible: we’re trying to work through a frustrating situation with a looming deadline, and we’re asking for your monetary support. Due to circumstances far outside our control, we’re going to have to pause accepting donations on March 15. We are actively working on keeping that pause brief, and we are going to do everything we can to continue serving 450 hot meals a week without interruption. Right now, we are asking for your financial help in making that possible: if you’re able, would you consider making your April/May/June contributions in the next week? (For those of you who aren’t monthly contributors, we would gratefully accept extra support from you as well!)

Here’s what’s going on:

We got set up with Open Collective in summer 2021, and it was an absolute game changer: it gave us a low-maintenance online space that wasn’t social media and a way to stay in touch with all of you, gave us financial transparency (rather than asking folks to blindly toss cash at a Venmo and then trust us on how much money we raised and where we spent it), and connected us to an organization that was willing to handle the taxes’n’legal stuff side of raising large amounts of money.

And now the hurdle: that last bullet point is about to come to an end. Community Kitchen (CK) is one of the 600 groups nationwide on this platform that not only use this software (Open Collective) but are also fiscally sponsored by the Open Collective Foundation. (This is a little confusing if you’re as new to nonprofit accounting as most of us are - “fiscal sponsorship” doesn’t mean they give us money, but rather that they lend us some aspects of their 501(c)(3) status. For a scrappy all-volunteer team with no interest in incorporating into a legal entity, this is huge! Essentially, in exchange for a small percentage of funds we raise, they make it possible for donations to CK to be tax-deductible, and they keep ducks in a row with the IRS so that we can focus on what we came together to do: use those donated dollars along with donated food to make complete meals that our neighbors genuinely want to eat). They’ve been great to work with…and they are, unfortunately, shutting down.

What does that mean for us? We’re still working on the details, but here’s what we know so far:
  • Community Kitchen isn’t going anywhere! That much, at least, we’re in clear agreement on. We’ve still got a great crew of volunteers, and our partners at TCFJ aren’t going to stop hooking us up with rescued produce, bread, and dairy products. 
  • This software - the website you’re reading this on, or received this email through - will continue to exist and to keep track of CK’s contributions and expenses. It’s just the Open Collective Foundation - the 501(c)(3) aspect of this ecosystem - that’s dissolving, not the software platform or the folks who develop it. As we currently understand it, folks who have recurring donations set up will see those resume once we get paperwork finalized.
  • We will have to pause accepting donations on March 15, until we can get set up with a new fiscal sponsor (again, not meaning financial support but rather an organization that arranges to share aspects of their 501(c)(3) status so that we don’t have to take on the bureaucracy ourselves).
  • We’re considering a number of options for fiscal sponsors. While this is obviously a pretty pressing issue to resolve, we don’t want to make a decision quickly out of urgency. We also don’t want to see our weekly meals interrupted - we’ve built trust over nearly four years of showing up every single Monday and Tuesday, and maintaining that consistency is paramount.

What that all adds up to is this: we’re asking you for help to, essentially, buy time: we need to raise a stability fund we can draw from while we reach a consensus and get set up with a new fiscal sponsor. We only have a week to raise that fund, and we don’t know yet how much time it will need to cover. We’ve set a tentative goal of $4000, which will cover approximately nine weeks of regular meal service (but we’re hoping to move faster than that!), but don’t be daunted by the number! CK has always run on micro-contributions, not a couple of large donors - we’re just asking any of our monthly supporters who are able to do so make their next donation or two a little bit early, and inviting anyone and everyone else to chip in even a dollar or two (it all adds up fast!).

Again, we can’t emphasize enough that we’re not going anywhere. This situation is frustrating, and absolutely not the way any of us want to be investing time and energy right now, but we’re going to pull through it together. 

Love and solidarity,

Community Kitchen

Eileen King

Posted on March 9, 2024

Update: we are absolutely blown away at how quickly you all came together to get us to well over 150% of the goal we set (and didn't expect to reach at all, much less in just a couple of hours).

That said, we're not the only local group struggling with this transition. If you saw this update and would have been willing and able to contribute to our spring stability fund, we hope you'll consider supporting some of our comrades instead:

  • Minneapolis Northside Mutual Aid - direct support for folks who most need it
  • Sanctuary Supply Depot - provides supplies including tents, tarps, propane, and so much more
  • F12 People’s Kitchen - feeding the people! often with delicious burritos
  • Twin Cities Logistics Collective - building food resiliency one garden bed at a time
  • Grapevine Collective - supporting healing and justice via the 20+ groups that use the New City Center building