The process is similarly intimidating.
The first step is establishing a non-profit corporation. Then I have to apply to the IRS for recognition of tax exemption by filing IRS form 1023.
VERY obviously, if I were to apply for 501(c)(3) status now, there would be a huge conflict of interest. Since the crowdfunding most immediately benifits myself, I might as well be applying for non-profit status for George Costanza's "Human Fund". Applying now, I'd be rejected for 501(c)(3) status.
I do have some help with this. My friend Jeff and my friend Larry have both started 503(c)(3) organizations before, I may actually ask them to set up the 501(c)(3) with me. Or at least teach me how to do it.
One thing I do have to make clear is that I can't solicit funds for the 501(c)(3) until I get 501(c)(3) approval. I can collect money for the original goal of sending myself to code camp with the promise to pay it forward, but any money collected above and beyond that is just going to get set-aside until the 501(c)(3) goes through. I'll probably end up starting up a second Stripe account to keep everything completely seperate from the get-go.
That does bring up the question of taxes. So far as I am aware, when you donate money to this program, it's considered a gift according to IRS rules. You can't claim it as tax deductable (and I'll make a note of that on the donation page - anothering I need to add to my ever growing list of things to do), but since it's a gift, I don't have to pay taxes on it either - so every dollar - minus the 2.7% + 30c that Stripe charges for fees - goes to coding school tuition - and will eventually get paid forward.