Thomas J Shutt Memorial Foundation
As some of you know, my younger brother Thomas died of a sudden cardiac arrest last Tuesday. He was only 25 years old. My family and I are devastated. I don’t know when I will be able to think about anything but him. He was my best friend and the kindest, funniest person I’ve ever known.
From what the detective and his roommates said, he died doing what he loved: writing. He was a New York Times and USA Today best-selling urban fantasy and science fiction novelist and collaborated with author all over the world. He quit his day job last year and committed himself fully to his writing. He has published six novels, with five novels completed and scheduled for release this year, and countless stories edited for others.
His friends in the author community set up a GoFundMe to raise money for funeral expenses and people have been asking if they can contribute to a charity in his honor. We are planning to set up a nonprofit Thomas J. Shutt Foundation to give grants, awards, and scholarships to young writers to support them as they develop their craft. Our first program will most likely be a small scholarship for local high school students interested in creative writing.
WHY FISCAL SPONSORSHIP?
We’re starting the process of setting up a separate nonprofit organization, but it will take a while and people are asking to donate now. For that reason, we are seeking fiscal sponsorship from Noisebridge to accept donations while we create an independent organization. We will begin creating incorporation documents this week, but getting approval may take two to twelve months.
We anticipate having our independent nonprofit set up before we give our first grants, which means that Noisebridge would act simply to receive donations, hold them, and keep track of them before transferring the funds to that organization. We anticipate that the new organization will have a board of directors composed of Thomas’ immediate family members. The board will create plans and judging criteria for giving grants, awards, and scholarships.
We will keep Noisebridge apprised of our progress towards becoming a recognized independent nonprofit, and will only transfer collected funds once we have demonstrated to the Noisebridge community and board of directors that we have reached that goal.
We anticipate that managing the foundation’s funds will involve some extra overhead for Noisebridge, with the bulk of the work falling upon the treasurer. Since I’m currently the treasurer, I volunteer to handle all of this extra work.
With lowercase-c consensus from the current board members and officers, I have set up a project donation page for the memorial foundation, which has already received several hundred dollars in donations. https://donate.noisebridge.net/projects/thomas-j-shutt-memorial-foundation
I recognize that this does not line up with the official process for seeking fiscal sponsorship, which requires full consensus for Noisebridge to sponsor a project. This will be the first week of that full and public consensus process. If Noisebridge does not reach consensus to sponsor this project, I will deal with the consequences of creating the project early—mostly, risking disappointing any donors who need a guarantee their donations will be tax-deductible. I considered it worthwhile because of the time-sensitive nature of the issue. Our public memorial service will be taking place shortly before the Noisebridge meeting where this consensus proposal is introduced, and we want to provide visitors who want to donate to a charity the option of donating to the foundation.
I also apologize for only raising the issue with board members and officers before creating the project. It was not an attempt to sidestep full community discussion of the project. This is the worst experience of my life and I am having trouble discussing anything at all with anyone outside of immediate family right now. I did not want to air news my brother’s death too widely outside of the communities that already knew him until it became necessary. Thank you for everyone who learned about this on Facebook and has sent condolences.
I will not be back in San Francisco until June 5th, but if there are objections or concerns about this fiscal sponsorship proposal, I can discuss them online or over the phone.
There will be several possible sources of funds for the Thomas J. Shutt Memorial Foundation:
- Individual donations, either online or by check
- Ongoing royalties from Thomas’s published books and books scheduled to be published this year
- Cash, bonds, or other parts of Thomas’s estate, if any remains after end-of-life expenses and paying creditors
- Donations from family
- Profits from selling stocks, bonds, or other investments purchased with foundation money
- Payments from any active life insurance policy—we are still trying to work out if he has coverage
We intend to set up and run this foundation in a way that ensures it will continue well after our own deaths. To that end, we intend to only spend 4% of the principal in a given year on grants and awards, with the rest of the fund invested conservatively in a mixture of stocks and bonds. For the period of time that Noisebridge would be acting as a fiscal sponsor, it would be purchasing those stocks and bonds. When our independent nonprofit is established, Noisebridge would transfer ownership.