As a bit of inside information on this, I'll observe that it took me longer than I really wanted to get the papers for ARESFFT (the corporation we set up to operate the Awards) completed and filed — IRS Form 1023 is a real monster — but surprisingly litle time to get the federal recognition once it was filed. The California state exemption is actually still pending, but that should be a mere formality on account of generally the California Franchise Tax Board will take IRS exemption as "good enough" to issue the California exemption. I expect the difference in processing times is part of the ongoing meltdown of California's governmental functions due to lack of funding.
Setting up a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation is not free: it costs around $500 in various state and federal filing fees to make it happen. We've received donations and grants to cover those initial filing costs, but now we need help in raising funds for the Awards themselves.
If you would like to help us with the goal of raising funds to pay for the SF & F Translation Awards, please consider donating to us. All of us working on the Awards are volunteers, and all funds raised go toward the Awards with only a bare minimum of necessary administrative overhead.