Charitable Allies Review

Success Story: The Forgiving Sea Project

Two women contemplate a large scale painting of ocean waves viewed from in the water.

Making Waves with The Power of Forgiveness

If you walked into an art gallery and began writing on a painting, it wouldn’t be a shock if security immediately escorted you out. But for the creators involved with The Forgiving Sea Project, this behavior would not only be expected, but encouraged. 

The Forgiving Sea Project is a nonprofit arts organization that promotes healing through interactive paintings by Carolyn Springer and music by Joseph Lamm and Music Hypnotica. The paintings push the traditional boundaries of static gallery style art by encouraging the viewer to write names of those they wish to forgive on the Forgiving Sea Paintings with chalk pastel. As the gallery travels to new locations, new layers of sea waves are painted over the names, symbolically washing them away layer by layer. Through art and a beautiful soundtrack to enrich the experience and establish a sanctuary, the gallery acts as an authentic safe place to explore forgiveness.

A person taking a picture of a painting

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Pastor Richard Bray and his daughter write on the Forgiving Sea III in the Spring of 2021.

“Our mission is to help others heal so that they can help heal the planet,” composer Joseph Lamm said. “By promoting forgiveness as an achievable objective for all, The Forgiving Sea Project looks to positively transform the lives of individuals and communities and to encourage the healing of the earth and its creatures. We seek to raise awareness of environmental stress, encourage volunteer opportunities in marine life conservation efforts, and ask for donations for current projects.”

Charting a Course to 501c3 Status

When Joseph and Carolyn first approached Charitable Allies, they were looking to open a bank account so they could cash a donation that would further their mission. When they learned they’d need to be a legally established entity first, they decided a nonprofit organization would align best with their goals and reached out for help becoming a 501c3 legally. 

“(We were) drawn to the positive approach that Charitable Allies offered,” Joseph said. “Upon my phone call being answered with a cheerful “hello” from Victoria Ochs and her listening to a quick synopsis of our project, everything that has followed has been like dealing with dear friends who have our best interests at heart.”

Victoria scheduled Joseph and Carolyn for a free, 30-minute consultation with attorney Quentin Collins, where they shared their hopes for the near future and the years to come. Prior to the call, Joseph and Carolyn feared the nonprofit startup process would be extremely difficult. Questions about the timing and complexity of the process crossed their minds. They heard the application could take up to a year of preparation – was that true? Would the legal paperwork be confusing or complicated? 

They soon discovered that a nonprofit attorney’s guidance could streamline the process to get started quickly.

The Forgiving Sea received their 501c3 approval (determination letter) from the IRS less than 3 months after moving forward with Charitable Allies, which enabled them to receive tax-deductible donations and grow beyond what they could achieve as individuals. The exhibit has now reached its sixth in a series of paintings and has even been endorsed by Fred Luskin, founder of the Forgiveness Institute at Stanford University, who says forgiveness is a key to positive mental health. 

“We were put at ease by the friendly demeanor of attorney Quentin Collins and how, after greeting us, he listened to what Carolyn and I had to say,” Joseph said. “This, to us, was like being given a roadmap and he was our guide. We simply could not have asked for better.”

If you’d like help starting a nonprofit legally, let us know! We’d be happy to set you up on a free consultation via Zoom to discuss the process, timeline and cost.

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