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Castro Country Club gets new sponsor

by Seth Hemmelgarn

San Francisco's Castro Country Club, which hosts 12-step meetings and other services for LGBTs in recovery, has a new fiscal sponsor. The nonprofit hopes the arrangement will help it grow.

For several years, the country club had been a fiscally sponsored project of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. But in May, it announced that it's now working with Community Initiatives. The agency, which also sponsors San Francisco's El/La Para TransLatinas and Dyke March, uses back office services such as financial management and human resources to help nonprofits focus on their missions.

Country club Executive Director Billy Lemon said that when SFAF became the project's sponsor about four years ago, "they took us on to help us get to the next step." The plan was to eventually find a business that focuses on fiscal sponsorships for small nonprofits, Lemon said, adding, "We are really, really appreciative of the steadfast support of the AIDS foundation."

SFAF "helped us run a balanced budget," he said. "... We've been in the black for the last two years."

The country club's budget is $398,000.

What's helped has been having "a more robust advisory board with some dedicated individuals that were focused on getting us to the point where we were more professional," Lemon said, as well as "a loyal donor based that stepped up," and active volunteers, which has allowed the Country Club to raise more money through participating in street fairs.

Andrea Aguilar, client services manager at Community Initiatives, said the country club had been looking for "a fiscal sponsor that could provide a variety of different services, as well as help them grow as an organization."

Aguilar said her agency will provide some strategic support, along with guidance on different fundraising methods.

Community Initiatives charges 10 percent of gross revenue receipts and 15 percent of government revenue, so the sponsorship could cost the country club up to 25 percent of its revenue, but "it will probably be more on the 10 percent side," said Aguilar.

Lemon estimated the country club would be paying $41,000 for Community Initiatives' services, which is about what it had paid to SFAF.

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