What is Fiscal Sponsorship?
Fiscal Sponsorship is used primarily when a non-profit film or film related project or event wants to secure funding from individual, foundation, government or corporate sources that give only to nonprofit organizations with IRS tax-exempt status. To be considered exempt, an organization must hold a current 501(c)(3) certificate from the IRS.
Does having a fiscal sponsor make me a nonprofit?
No. having a nonprofit fiscal sponsor does not make an individual “nonprofit” or “tax-exempt”—only the IRS can make a tax-exempt ruling.
How can my film benefit from having fiscal sponsorship from The Film Collaborative?
Many individual donors, foundations, and other funders will only donate to an established 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Starting your own 501(c)(3) as an alternative is a very time-consuming and expensive process; TFC’s fiscal sponsorship program was created so filmmakers do not have to take on this burden and can concentrate on filmmaking.
Does the project retain its own legal identity if it has a fiscal sponsor?
Yes. Your project is a separate legal entity and not part of TFC. You retain creative control, ownership and responsibility for tax reporting and liability.
What is the fee for donations?
TFC’s fee is 5% on all donations. For credit card transactions add 2.2% plus .30 for each transaction. This fee comes directly from PayPal, TFC is not responsible for changes in PayPal's fee.
* For federal government grants (i.e. NEH, NSF, or any entity that requires that we submit on the applicant’s behalf), a there will be 7% admin fee.
I plan to raise a lot of money for my project, does TFC have a fee sliding scale?
Yes, once you raise a minimum amount the fee will go down. Please contact us for details.
Why is the funding plan for my project so important?
Once we love your project we want to make sure you have a plan for funding and that it is realistic and achievable. TFC fully supports each project we invite into the fiscal sponsorship program and we want to know that you are ready and prepared to “hit the ground fundraising” once you are part of the program. We recognize that your funding strategy will mature and evolve as you go. We are looking for applicants who have done their homework, know the difference between funding that requires fiscal sponsorship and funding that does not and is able to present a plan and budget figure for both. Be prepared to provide names of funders, deadlines and amounts for identified sources. All information provided will be kept confidential, private funding sources will never be shared by TFC. Need help? Just ask.
Why is the budget for my project so important?
Your budget will back up your funding plan, be as detailed as possible and demonstrate you’ve taken into account all categories of project expenses. Do your best to get well-researched estimates for all project-related costs that you anticipate. We understand that these may change as the project moves forward. Include a fair and industry-standard salary for yourself in your project budget. Your budget should also contain a revenue section which will share your funding revenue to date, as well as a list of prospects and targets.
Why do you want to know how I will raise funds outside of the fiscal sponsorship program?
We want to know that you have a plan for raising the ENTIRE budget if it is not all through fiscal sponsorship. Demonstrate that your budget will be fully realized and that your project can get made.
I don’t have a budget that meets your requirements, can I send you want I have?
I don’t have a fundraising plan, can I create one as I go?
We realize that you may not yet have a plan for every dollar you want to raise, however, we are looking for a good indication that you have started some thoughtful research and are ready to proceed with fundraising in a meaningful way. Applications that do not contain a funding plan with some solid information cannot be accepted. We are happy to guide you but cannot accept projects that do not have any plan at all.
Do I need to have a fundraising plan for my ENTIRE budget?
We are looking for applicants who have started to create a solid plan. You can build upon it as your project evolves and you and discover funding opportunities, but you should come to us with something started.
Can I apply for fiscal sponsorship now to have it available in case I ever decide to use it?
TFC is looking for projects that serious about using fiscal sponsorship as a significant part of the funding plan. Applicants must be planning to actively utilize fiscal sponsorship as part pf their fundraising activities upon acceptance into the program. Projects that do not raise funds in a 12-month period will not be invited to continue without submitting an updated funding plan that will commence in the near future.
Can my project have more than one fiscal sponsor?
No. TFC does NOT allow its fiscally sponsored projects to have additional fiscal sponsors unless a) you plan on seeking funding from government organizations that we do not prepare applications for (i.e. NEA) or b) you are applying for a grant that requires you to have a local fiscal sponsor in order to receive the grant. We request that our fiscally sponsored filmmakers always notify us when receiving grants through their secondary fiscal sponsor.
Is there a minimum amount I need to raise to be eligible for fiscal sponsorship?
Yes, your fundraising goal through fiscal sponsorship must be a minimum of $20,000.
Can I combine crowdfunding with fiscal sponsorship?
TFC Fiscal Sponsorship can be combined with crowdfunders Kickstarter and Seed & Spark. Please contact us directly for more information.
TFC has direct relationships with each of the crowdfunders we work with which can help get your project noticed. We can also connect you directly to receive one one one assistance with your campaign.
Before launching your campaign, we require ample notice so we can process the set up with your crowdfunder of choice properly. The fiscal sponsorship-crowdfunder connection must be set up PRIOR to launching a crowdfunding campaign. There is a $50 admin fee to TFC for all crowdfunding campaigns due to the additional admin required by TFC to facilitate.
* As of January 31, 2017 Indiegogo is no longer working with fiscally sponsored projects.
Can I apply for Fiscal Sponsorship at any stage of production?
Yes, your project could be at any stage of production. Completed projects can also get fiscal sponsorship for covering their film festival and distribution fees.
What are the criteria for the selection of the projects?
Please see the Project Review Criteria on the About page. While each element is important, a well thought out fundraising strategy and a reasonable chance of raising those funds is given particular emphasis. After all, the whole point of fiscal sponsorship is to raise money for your project.
What kind of projects do you sponsor?
- Documentary feature & short films and other works of nonfiction
- Narrative feature & short films and other narrative works
- Transmedia/multi-media projects with film/video as a primary component of the work
- Film related events such as film festivals or screening series
TFC gives priority to projects that can be fully financed by donations and grants alone (usually projects under $3million); or fundraising for a defined portion of the project’s budget.
What is the application deadline?
There is no application deadline, you can submit anytime.
Once I apply, how long does it take to get a decision?
Most applications are given an initial review within 2 weeks (10 business days) of submission. If your application is approved you will be notified of acceptance and sent start up documentation. If your application requires edits and/or additional information you will be contacted via email with details. Applications are considered submitted once all elements are submitted: full proposal with budget, membership fee and application fee. If you submit an application but pay the fee later, the date you pay the fee is considered your application date, we suggest you submit all elements on the same day, or pay the fees prior to submitting your proposal. Responses to applications submitted around holidays will take longer.
Does TFC help filmmakers with funding?
As a fiscally sponsored project, the applicant is responsible for fundraising. Consider your development strategy, project identity and who you will contact as potential sources of funding. TFC can help guide you to the right resources and answer any questions you have, but you will own the fundraising outreach effort.
Can I receive grants and funding that do not require a fiscal sponsor?
Yes. You can directly receive funds that do not require fiscal sponsorship, but be aware that you will need to consult with your tax advisor to ensure you are accounting for those funds and their tax liability correctly.
As part of your fiscal sponsorship you can receive donations only. Investments of any kind with the provision of earning some return is prohibited under fiscal sponsorship guidelines; however, at any given point of time you can simultaneously receive donations as well as investment for the project, even from the same person, provided you agree to give the tax benefit only to the amount that was a ‘Donation’.
Can I get in-kind donations for my project?
Yes, we will provide you with a letter you can use to request in-kind donations in most circumstances. Some examples of this type of donation include things like equipment or office supplies to be used directly for the production. The request letter, in accordance with IRS regulations, will not specify a dollar amount for the deduction. The donor will have the responsibility of quantifying the donation and confirming its deductibility. You will then be responsible for accounting for how donated goods are used for your project when you file your reports. If a donor has questions about the deductibility of a non-cash contribution they should contact their tax professional. We are not qualified to answer tax related questions.
Can I receive online donations to my project?
Yes. Each Fiscally Sponsored project gets a public profile on the TFC website. Donors can review projects and give by credit card online. Paypal is our payment processor, they charge a credit card processing fee is 2.9% plus .30¢ for each transaction, this fee comes out of the gross donation amount. To donate to a fiscally sponsored project see, go here.
What happens if my membership lapses and I still need fiscal sponsorship?
We will let you know when your membership is up for renewal and you should renew before the deadline. If you let it lapse we will be able to accept donations on your behalf, but will not be able to remit them to you until your membership is up to date. Once you update your membership we will back date it to your expiration date.
What happens if a donor check bounces?
If a donor check bounces, TFC will charge a $25 fee to the filmmaker. This fee will be deducted from your next donation payment.
How should TFC be credited?
The filmmaker agrees to provide TFC with a back end “Special Thanks to The Film Collaborative, Fiscal Sponsor” credit. Please use our logo whenever possible. You can find our logo files and style guide here.
What is the difference between corporate sponsorship and fiscal sponsorship?
Corporate sponsorship consists of support, usually in the form of money or materials, given directly to the project. Often corporate sponsors expect something in return, such as advertising or publicity. However, many corporations also maintain philanthropic programs that donate to tax-exempt charitable organizations. These programs will not provide funds to a non-exempt filmmaking project but may donate to the project through a fiscal sponsorship program. A project selected for fiscal sponsorship is able to solicit tax-deductible contributions from these foundations, corporations or government organizations.
How do I account for project funds raised on my taxes?
You are responsible for maintaining your own financial records. TFC will send you a 1099 form each year, if applicable. We advise everyone to consult a tax professional about the tax implications of receiving funds through fiscal sponsorship. Ordinarily, you should only owe taxes personally on the salary paid to you. Funds received for the project’s other direct expenses are written off as expenses. Keep all receipts and payment records to show how the funds are spent on project expenses.
Can I apply for fiscal sponsorship if I have more than one project?
Yes, but each project must apply for sponsorship separately and have a separate TFC membership. If you are applying for sponsorship of more than one project, we will need to see that you have sufficient resources, staff and organization to manage multiple projects at the same time.
Should I include my script in the application?
As much as we would like to read your script we do not have the bandwidth to read scripts for every application. See #3 & 4 in the Project Proposal Guidelines for acceptable materials.
What does the fiscal sponsorship fee and application fee cover?
A fiscal sponsorship program creates a significant amount of administrative, legal, and accounting work. The fee covers our administrative and related overhead costs.
Will TFC submit grant applications on my behalf to federal government grant opportunities such as the NEH and NSF? Or any other funder that requires the fiscal sponsor to submit on an applicants behalf?
On a case by case basis TFC can submit government grant applications for fiscally sponsored projects. These applications are a lot of work and should be started at least 2 months prior to the application deadline.
To get started, all potential government grant applicants should consult with a grants program officer before TFC will consider submitting an application on behalf, you will find their contact information on the grant opportunity website. A program officer will be able to give valuable feedback as to your project’s fit for the grant you are considering. If they encourage you to move forward you will have the opportunity to submit a draft for feedback. The deadline for this should be built into your grant preparation timeline.
Please notify us of the exact opportunity you wish to apply for and the amount you will request two months prior to the application deadline. Be prepared to submit all application documents to TFC two weeks before the deadline. All documents must be delivered to TFC as per the detailed application instructions for the grant opportunity (these instructions are very specific and they will not accept variations). There is a $50 admin fee for each application TFC submits. The fee for government grant funds is 7%.
Will TFC submit a grant application on my behalf to the NEA?
Unfortunately, the NEA no longer accepts applications for fiscally sponsored projects.
I want to apply to a single funding source or grant opportunity, will you be my fiscal sponsor?
TFC gives priority to projects with a diverse funding plan that demonstrates how the project will be funded should a single unconfirmed source not come through. Applications for projects that plan to apply to a single funder are unlikely to be approved unless the funder has given you a very strong indication that your application will be approved.
I don't have an EIN and I don't want to use my personal SSN for business, OR I am not from the US and don't have any US tax ID at all. How do I get an EIN?
Follow this link to the IRS website to apply for an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN is a nine-digit number (for example, 12-3456789) assigned to employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, certain individuals, and other entities for tax filing and reporting purposes. Any questions about the EIN application process should be directed to the IRS. TFC is not qualified to answer questions on behalf of the IRS. https://www.irs.gov/uac/form-ss-4-application-for-employer-identification-number-ein
I still have questions, how can I contact you?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Many questions can be answered via email but we are always happy to set up a time for a phone call.