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Skeptical Science to expand impact as 501(c)(3) non-profit

Posted on 8 April 2021 by John Cook, doug_bostrom, BaerbelW

On November 25, 2020 Skeptical Science Inc. became a registered nonprofit organization and on March 17, 2021 our application to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for 501(c)(3) status was approved. In this blog post, we’ll explain why we went down this path and what will come next.

SkS Seal

Since its creation in 2007, Skeptical Science has been operated in an entirely informal manner by a global team of volunteers. Frankly, we’ve surprised ourselves how we've pushed the limits of what's possible with such a ragtag gang of plucky mavericks! But we also felt it was the right time to formalize the group and make it an official entity.

In order to bring the organization to the next level, we’ve had on-and-off discussions over the years about how to become an IRS-scrutinized and supervised 501(c)(3) entity in order to

  • Make it possible to approach foundations or similar funding outfits to support special projects
  • Tap into tax-deductible donations from US enthusiasts (which make up most of our audience)
  • Ensure tax exemption for contributions
  • Keep up with the urgency of our work
  • Initiate crowdfunding projects as needed
  • Consolidate accounts of our technical landscape

Climate denial is not going quietly into the night and it's become clear that Skeptical Science is a necessary permanent feature of the landscape. Meanwhile, our informal nature created limits on Skeptical Science’s ability to realize its full potential. Realizing our mission on a larger scale as well as sustainably funding and managing our various projects demanded a change in approach. Formalizing the organization as a legal entity was the next logical step in accomplishing our mission, and a 501(c)3 charitable educational non-profit made the most sense.

We’re excited about exploring the new world of possibilities we’ve opened. We intend to contain our enthusiasm at least a bit and to work methodically to grow the organization into its new, larger shoes.

As of Mar 17 2021, we now have this IRS imprimatur and we're safe to proceed with growing the organization and will open a number of avenues for so doing.

Letter-IRS

To incorporate Skeptical Science, we needed to set up an initial Board of Directors, and their names will be “somewhat” familiar to you: John Cook, Douglas K. Bostrom, and Bärbel Winkler. That’s a scanty crew of familiar suspects and our long-term plan is to build a larger Board. Without the ability to indemnify and shield additional board members against serious publishing errors, we’d never be able to tap into Skeptical Science’s deep and wide network of potential board members. As one example of the benefits of formalization, that barrier is now knocked down. With “Director's and Officer's” insurance in hand thanks to incorporation, we're free to invite participation with a clear conscience. Closing the circle, we're now developing a “Theory of Change” to clearly communicate what SkS aims to achieve and how we plan to get there - the outcome of this planning will feed back into building our Board. 

We are currently setting up skepticalscience.org as the homepage for Skeptical Science Inc. which will become the repository for all the information and “paperwork” required from a registered 501(c)(3). We’ll also write about specific projects and activities directly supported by our new organization. Our Theory of Change process for Skeptical Science will also help to identify the path from where we are now to what we want to achieve long-term.

We're sure many of our readers are as excited and pleased as we are that Skeptical Science has taken this step. If you're keen on helping the public improve critical thinking skills about science and thus smooth the path to steady progress in making our planet a permanently sustainable home, you can make a contribution to Skeptical Science right now and right here. It needs only a couple of minutes to help build a better tomorrow. 

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  1. Congratulations on becoming a 501(c)(3)! For all the reasons you presented so clearly, this will empower your organization to have a much bigger impact. The work you are doing is brilliant and essential—and helping to empower many, many others to become forces for change.

    I look forward to seeing your "Theory of Change". Having worked for several years facilitating transformational change leadership with nonprofit organizations, I deeply appreciate how vital it is to embody a clear understanding of how to drive real change, no matter what arena it may be in. And if there is any issue where transormational change is desperately needed--climate change is it!! Kudos to Skeptical Science for taking this step!!

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