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Side Project Inc.

Building Capacity

We build capacity at small and start-up charitable and philanthropic organizations by providing legal and management assistance services.

Identifying Assets

Nonprofits and grassroot efforts operate big ideas on small budgets. We work with organizations to identify assets and to chart their social change strategic plan.

Capturing Outcomes

We develop evaluation plans and continuous quality-improvement programs that capture a project's social impact.

How We Help

Nonprofit Incubator

Nonprofit Incubator

Side Project provides fiscal sponsorship and management for new and innovative projects focused on progressive social change. We help social change agents and groups implement new programs, bring together groups to collaborate on an issue, and test new approaches to social change. Fiscal sponsorship is a common mechanism used in the nonprofit sector that enables individuals and organizations to start new programs without establishing a new, separate nonprofit organization. The infographic below provides an overview of how fiscal sponsorships work.

Side Project’s projects are not separate and isolated entities; rather, they are an integral part of Side Project Inc. We receive and manage charitable donations and grants on behalf of our projects; maintain the necessary corporate and financial infrastructure for all project activities; and, allow project leaders to focus on creating a healthy, just and vibrant world.

Side Project Inc. has supported nonprofit leaders since 2012 and is one of the leading fiscal sponsorship organization in Pennsylvania and Florida. We are known for providing high-quality legal and professional advice to the nonprofit community. Side Project is committed to the vision of each of its projects, and all of Side Project’s projects share in our core values of service, social justice, integrity, competence, the importance of human relationships and fun.

For more information on our Nonprofit Incubator & Social Change Accelerator download our Fiscal Sponsorship FAQ



Tax-Exempt & Nonprofit Organization Legal Services

The Tax-Exempt & Nonprofit Organization practice provides legal support to nonprofits in Pennsylvania and Florida. This program supports small and start-up nonprofits to get them off the ground and to begin making an impact in their community. 

Our staff and volunteer attorney’s (licensed in Pennsylvania and Florida) act as in-house to the nonprofit providing consultation in the following areas:

Nonprofit Corporate Formation & Governance — We help with the creation and formation of a nonprofit corporation, making sure all the statutory requirements are satisfied.  This includes filing the articles of incorporation, drafting bylaws, and creating and maintaining a corporate minute book. 

Charitable Organization Registration & Compliance Services — Fundraising activities of nonprofit organizations are regulated by state law. Many states require charitable nonprofits as well as any paid professional “fundraising counsel” or consultant hired to assist the nonprofit with fundraising activities, to register with the state before the nonprofit or professionals solicits any donations. Side Project’s managing attorney, Jeff Fromknecht, will ensure your compliance with in any state your organizations fundraise in. Our charitable organization registration and compliance services include:

  • Electronic access to all forms on our secure client interface. 
  • Preparation of all required state forms
  • Assembly and mailing of all state registration packets
  • Calculation and payment of state fees on your behalf
  • Identification of possible registration exemptions
  • Applications for exemptions
  • Applications for extensions
  • Annual registration renewal and report filings

Sales & Property Tax Exemptions —  Many states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, have enacted laws that provide exemptions on sales and property taxes for qualified nonprofit organizations.  We work with your organization to register for these exemptions. 

Tax Exempt Law — While many charities are tax exempt, there are still tax concerns and issues that nonprofit organizations should consider. This includes filing for federal tax-exempt status and helping to complete federal, state, and local annual tax returns (if applicable). We also help your organization decide what type of federal tax-exemption best suits your  mission, and file the application for exemption. 

Social Enterprise Law — We work with social entrepreneurs and social enterprises helping them decide on corporate structure and governance practices. There several options for social enterprises to consider when deciding what legal form to adopt. However, it is not the legal form that makes a social enterprise, its the activities. We help develop out your idea and business plan, and then help craft a legal structure that positions the organization for success.

Nonprofit General Counsel Services— Side Project’s Managing Attorney Jeff Fromknecht is available to provide outside counsel to your nonprofit on an as-needed basis. As your organization’s general counsel, Jeff and his team help with:

  • Manage organizations legal affairs in support of its mission;
  • Identifies, assesses, and manages legal, regulatory risk, and related reputation risk;
  • Provides legal advice to organizations President/CEO and to the Board of Directors and its committees on a wide range of legal and regulatory issues;
  • Provide legal advice and assistance in the development and growth of the organization’s social enterprise in connection with transactions and contracts;
  • Provide advice and assistance on legal, policy, governance and operational matters.
  • Oversee relations with outside counsel, including monitoring and approving retention agreements with outside counsel (if needed).
  • Ensure that the organization operates with the highest legal and ethical standards and in a manner such that 501(c) (3) status is maintained.

Nonprofit Research & Development

Nonprofits and grassroot efforts operate big ideas on small budgets. Organizations are kept afloat by the dedication and passion of staff and volunteers. With small operating budgets, many nonprofits cannot afford to hire a development director, grant writer, or a quality assurance manager. No matter what your needs are, we promise to deliver objective, informed advice and actionable plans for improving your organization.  We support organizations to: Build Capacity, Identify Resources, and Capture Outcomes.

We provide the following services through the nonprofit support program:

Project Development & Management — Do you have an idea for a new program or project but just aren’t sure how to get the idea off the ground? Our staff and volunteer community organizers can help. We use a logic model approach to create  a visual map of your idea, outlining resources you currently have, resources you need to acquire, and what your intended activities, goals, and outcomes are. We then try to connect you to people in your community with the complementary skill set to help your organization succeed. We also provide fiscal sponsorship and management support to grassroots charitable projects and small nonprofits. Visit the Projects page to see our current projects. 

Grant & Foundation Research Services — Our staff researches a number of databases to identify foundations, both locally and nationally, that have an interest in funding the type of program you are proposing. From this list we then research and examine each foundation’s tax returns to identify how much money was granted and to whom. This type of information is a great guide when putting together a proposal, and helps determine how much is an appropriate amount to ask for in funding. We review and summarize the information in an easy-to-read report and create a funding calendar of important dates. The funding report includes the name of the foundation or request-for-proposal, formatting and submission guidelines, and contact information for the Program Officer or Board of Directors.  The funding calendar, which is organized by month, highlights important dates in each foundation’s funding cycle. 

Program Evaluation & Continuous Quality Improvement Programs — We offer a unique approach to evaluation and continuous quality improvement that is tailored to your needs. We work with you to define your program’s goals and objectives using a logic model. The logic model links outcomes (both short and long-term) with activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions of the program. Next we identify appropriate baseline and implementation measures to track your program’s progress. We specialize in qualitative approaches, including focus groups, interviews, and photo documentary to measure the extent to which program activities lead to short and long-term goals. We also help you to develop a data feedback loop to ensure that data collected can be continuously used for decision-making. Finally, we help you develop a strategy to share the great work your organization does with the community and funders. 

Planned Giving Program Development & Management — Our team helps your nonprofit understand what planned giving is all about and if your organization is ready to add a planned giving program to its fundraising strategy. For organizations who are ready, we develop and implement a strategic planned giving action plan. This plan is focused on helping your organization to initiate, manage, and monitor a successful planned giving program.

Corporate and Individual Philanthropy & Social Investments

Are you or your business ready to give back to the community but you are not sure where to start? Side Project will work with you to develop and manage your corporate or individual social-investment-program to maximize your impact while reducing your cost. Our staff guide you through a variety of charitable and philanthropic strategies, helping you to decide how to make the most impact on your community.  We can also provide fiscal, management and legal support for your project or program. 

Support for Private Foundations

The foundation support program supports private charitable foundations who do not have full time program officers in selecting qualified, legitimate nonprofit organizations to support financially.  Our team reviews potential grantees before grant awards are made. 

Support provided through this program include:

Grantmaking Due Diligence — This includes a review of potential grantees compliance with federal, state, and local regulations (including filing of tax returns).  It also ensures potential grantees are properly registered as a nonprofit charitable organization and that it is following all required corporate formalities. 

Program Evaluation and Continuous Quality Improvement Programs  We offer a unique approach to evaluation that is tailored to the needs of the clients and captures, documents, and shares the great work your company does. A logic model approach is used to create a picture of how your foundation carries out its mission—the theory and assumptions underlying your social-investment programs. The logic model links outcomes (both short- and long-term) with activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions of the program.  The logic model is the blueprint and sets the stage for a comprehensive program evaluation or continuous quality-improvement program.  We can also work with your grantees to help them capture the impact of your investment. 

Visit-Able: Americans With Disabilities Act Compliance Practice

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities, such as buying an item at the store, going to the movies, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exercising at the health club, or having the car serviced at a local garage.

To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for businesses of all sizes. These requirements went into effect on January 26, 1992. Businesses that serve the public must modify policies and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities; comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities; remove barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable; and provide auxiliary aids and services when needed to ensure effective communication with people who have hearing, vision, or speech impairments. All businesses, even those that do not serve the public, must comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities. (Source ADA.gov)

This program provides organizations with support to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. We address both the legal and psychological aspects of inclusion. 

What our clients are saying next prev

  • I was introduced to Side Project by a friend for the purposes of establishing a non-profit organization. It was an unexpected connection that has provided so much more than the legal assistance I was originally seeking. In addition to softening the edges of a daunting process, the folks at Side Project have remained genuinely interested in the success of our program. Because of this dedication, they continue to help us network with relevant groups, review our grant applications and simply take the time to listen and problem solve as questions arise. Jeff and his colleagues have gone above and beyond in establishing a solid footing from which we are flourishing.

    Carolyn Hare, Executive Director, Arts for Autism Foundation of Pittsburgh

  • Jeff goes out of his way to help people that he works with and does not let up until the project is completed successfully. Despite his hectic schedule, Jeff was beyond responsive, and he actually believed in the work I was doing, so went the extra distance to ensure that I was successful. Any nonprofit organization looking for guidance, assistance, or professional help should talk to Jeff.

    Bibhuti Aryal, Co-Founder / CEO at Rukmini Foundation

  • Jeff Fromknecht is one of the brightest persons I have come to know. He is hard-working, dilligent, and hungry to learn. We have worked together on a number of projects and I would unconditionally recommend him to you.

    Dr. Al Condeluci, CEO of UCP/CLASS of Pittsburgh

  • I've had the pleasure of working with Adam first hand for the past few years, and have been consistently impressed by his passion for community service, tireless leadership and focus on positive development. He is a person who believes in total inclusion and expects nothing but the best results, which he has delivered time and time again. Any person or non-profit looking for professional assistance should feel absolutely comfortable in seeking Adam's skill set.

    Theresa Kail-Smith, Councilperson for City of Pittsburgh, Council District 2

  • Without the pro-bono services of Side Project, Inc., Perks n Moore, Inc. would no longer be in business. During the first meeting with Jeff Fromknecht, President of Side Project, Inc., a prioritized detailed list of actions was implemented. By the end of 2013, all items had been successfully completed. Perks n Moore's reputation is restored and the adult caregivers utilizing our programs and services have increased.

    Sally Moore, Executive Director, Perks n Moore, Inc.

Latest News

Nonprofit Organizations and Independent Contractors

By: Erica Weintraub, Law Clerk

A common issue that arises at small nonprofit organization is how to classify the individuals who perform work for them. Nonprofit organizations have to determine whether individuals are independent contractors or common law employees. This blog post discusses how to distinguish the two types of workers, filing requirements for each type of worker and the potential consequences of misclassification.

The first factor to consider

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IRS Publication 557: A Resource for New and Start Up Nonprofits

By Mariana Muci

The IRS writes and publishes an informational booklet that gives taxpayers detailed guidance on tax issues. IRS Publication 557 deals specifically with non-profit organizations.[i] This publication discusses and provides explanations for the rules and procedures that organizations must adhere to in order to receive an appropriate tax-exempt status ruling or determination letter.[ii] Directors, officers, and other persons responsible for ensuring an organization ‘s compliance with tax laws and maintaining exempt status should always keep a copy and refer back to Publication 557 and be aware of any possible changes to it. The publication is divided into six chapters, which are summarized below.
Chapter 1: Application, Approval, and Appeal Procedures
The first chapter of this “guidebook” provides general information about the procedures for obtaining recognition of tax-exempt status.[iii] It discusses the application procedures that generally apply to all organizations discussed in this publication.[iv] This section helps the organization determine the appropriate form that must be filed and what information to include. This includes, Employer Identification Number (EIN), organizing documents, bylaws, description of activities, and financial data.[v] Additionally, this chapter explains in detail the rulings and determination letters, the appeals procedure if an adverse letter is proposed, and group exemption letters.[vi] Chapter 2: Filing Requirements and Required Disclosures
Most exempt organizations, including private foundations, must file various returns and reports at some time during or following the close of their accounting period.[vii] This chapter contains detailed information about annual filing requirements and other matters that may affect your organization’ s tax-exempt status.[viii] Additionally,

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Political Activity at your 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization

Election season is almost in full swing. Every year we are asked by nonprofit executive directors about policity actitivity at nonprofits. Americans will be electing a new President in 2016. There are many important issues at stake and without a doubt issues that impact the work of your nonprofit organization and your stakeholders. Despite recently court ruling holding corporations to have certain rights under the Bill of Rights, the IRS

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The Nonprofit Legal Services Fund helps provide pro and low bono legal services to small and start-up nonprofits. Your donation is used to help keep our law student interns fed, caffeinated, and ready to help nonprofits in need. This is more than charity, you are supporting social change.