With the help of some friends and a few influential people, I want to start a facility to house women from battered relationships and move them into sober Transitional Living. How can I do that and submit a 501(c)(3) application with no funding whatsoever at this point?
This is a good first test to see if your project is feasible. If you can’t front the money yourself, you can borrow a few dollars from your friends and influential people to form the entity and file the Form 1023 application for exemption. Be sure to document the loans in the name of the new entity. When you get your exemption letter and raise some other money, you can repay the loans or ask the lenders to make a deductible charitable contribution. If you don’t get the exemption (which seems highly unlikely), you can ask them to forgive the loan and take a write-off.
It sounds like your project will ultimately require significant contributions to be successful. If you can’t raise a few thousand dollars now from the people you are counting on to help you in the longer term, you may want to rethink whether you have an economically feasible project or the right team to help pursue it.