Request: support with setting up sociocratic bylaws for our 501(c)(3) application

Hi folks!

I don’t know where to post this. I’m part of the general circle of my grassroots groups that is trying to formalize into a 501(c)(3). We live and operate in Utah, and we haven’t submitted our application to the IRS yet.

Currently we have fiscal sponsorship, and submitted for our articles of incorporation and registered ourselves to be able to receive money as a fiscally sponsored group.

Now our intention is to eventually setup infrastructure to be able to fiscally sponsor other grassroots groups.

We haven’t submitted yet our 501(c)(3) application, or prepared any of the forms.

None of us inside the group are lawyers, and so far we’ve contracted and paid a nonprofit legal services provider that is unfamiliar with sociocracy. Using them in the future is certainly an option, but not a necessity.

My Perceived Challenges
My major concern is if the bylaws that we submit to the IRS are already built on sociocracy, then that it could sink us if there are foundational disputes within the organization. aka the Board of the Directors can take over and make choices inconsistent with the governance processes that we’ve pre-agreed to pursue first.

Secondarily, I’m, also concerned that if we just do a basic run-of-the-mill bylaws template that delegate sociocracy to a second-level governance document, then a board of directors could still take actions inconsistent with the ways we want to govern ourselves

Also, I really don’t know what would be the minimal things needed for an application for a 501(c)(3) from Utah.

What’s I’ve researched so far:
First, I found this document, but as a non-lawyer/accountant, I feel sooo lost in it. Publication 557 - Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization

So far, I’ve read this post on the website: Legalizing Sociocracy: Bylaws and Governance Documents

And I’ve looked into this folder: [public] Governance Docs

From looking at the templates, there are a lot of great things there. Just not sure if any of those would be as simple as copy-paste into a Utah context.

The Choices I’ve Perceived So Far
We are stuck on the question of how much we want to do with the bylaws we submit on our application.

  1. We could try to keep the bylaws as light as possible, and refer to another governance document that would take precedent in case of an internal dispute.
  • Gets us going now. Not sure if this is viable nor desirable, but it would be a way for us to kick the can forward and not delay our application.
  • It might create a hierarchy between the original bylaws and the governance agreements we make by members of the board
  1. We could try to do our best to draft a basic sociocratic bylaws that we could improve on later, but just risk taking longer in drafting/approving those up.
  • We don’t know the minimal requirements by the IRS and where there might be conflicts between sociocracy and U.S. law, so we risk rejection and going back to the drawing board
  • Drafting something beyond a template will take time

My Request to Y’All
So I’m feeling a overwhelmed and paralyzed by all of this. Feeling lost.

For those of you with experience and knowledge, I’m curious what questions would you be asking yourselves?

Are there folks in our SoFA community who are might be willing and able to provide mentorship, support, and guidance for our small group in this process?

Thank you!