How to Find a Fiscal Sponsor for Your Nonprofit

Generally, that fee is somewhere between 5%-10% of all funds held on behalf of the sponsored group. As fiscal sponsorship continues to become a more widely used tool for charitable impact, it is important that 501(c)(3) organizations acting as a fiscal sponsor are doing it right. Board members of sponsoring organizations must fully understand the role the organization is playing, its legal responsibilities and possible risks, and how to be a good steward and partner to its sponsored projects. Fiscal sponsors are established organizations that already have tax-exempt status. They partner with specific ideas, organizations, and causes that don’t have that status.

It is also important to ensure you accurately reflect the fiscal sponsorship relationship on your audit and IRS Form 990. The best way to do this is to hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or firm that has experience in fiscal sponsorship and knows which practical steps to take in order to adequately test and reflect the relationship. Whether you’ve got a full fiscal sponsorship program, an individual sponsee, or a handful of sponsored projects, the process of auditing them will be similar. As previously mentioned, a fiscal sponsorship provides newly formed nonprofits with the opportunity to raise money, even if they are still in a sort of start-up phase.

  1. While all of these risks exist and have real consequences, there are many things you can do to prevent them from arising.
  2. It’s best to outline the responsibilities and obligations of both parties in a written agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored organization.
  3. There are many differences between Model A and Model C and each can be used in different ways to match the specific purpose and operations of your project.

This will help you make sure it’s aligned with local laws and regulations, and adequately protect both parties. Where corporate sponsorships provide financial support to nonprofits, fiscal sponsorships center knowledge and administrative resources. A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit organization that provides fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services to help build the capacity of charitable projects. Using a fiscal sponsorship arrangement offers a way for a cause to attract donors even when it is not yet recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). In essence the fiscal sponsor serves as the administrative “home” of the cause.

About Fiscal Sponsorship

Measuring the impact of donor retention is essential for nonprofits looking to assess their fundraising strategies and improve donor relationships. Here are some key metrics and methods to measure and analyze donor retention provided by our friendly… Here is a modified version of the standard agreement used by one arts organization when it acts as the fiscal sponsor for independent filmmakers.

This might also be to pay a cost incurred by the fiscal sponsor for the FSP’s act or omission causing such cost (e.g., a settlement or lawsuit). And the cost may fairly include the time spent by the fiscal sponsor’s non-FSP-specific staff spent addressing such matters. A fiscal sponsor is the organization that helps your social venture or project operate and raise charitable funds under their legal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The Sponsor provides the legal structure along with finance, HR, operations, and, in some cases, strategic support to a charitable project. An ideal charitable project for a fiscal sponsor is any venture with a specific charitable purpose that is ready to scale but lacks access to charitable funds and needs a 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure to operate underneath.

Preapproved grant relationship model of fiscal sponsorship

One of the main roles of a fiscal sponsor is to receive donations on the behalf of a nonprofit, soon-to-be nonprofit, organization, or cause. Most often, a fiscal sponsor will be a public charity themselves, which receives tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Because of this, donations are treated as restricted funds which have been dedicated to furthering a charitable purpose.

Fiscal Sponsorship Explained: How it Helps Nonprofits

In addition to administrative and financial help, fiscal sponsors can provide unparalleled mentorship on how to make your nascent nonprofit not only survive but thrive outside its shell. The sponsored project should be related to and somehow further the fiscal sponsor’s mission. With the preapproved grantmaking relationship, it would be rare for the fiscal sponsor to choose not to grant the sponsored project its raised funds unless there was a breach in their grant agreement. In the preapproved grant relationship model, the sponsored project operates as a grantee of the fiscal sponsor, rather than being housed within the organization.

Being able to operate as a 501(c)(3) grants your supporters the opportunity to receive a tax deduction for donations made to your nonprofit. While all of these risks exist and have real consequences, there are many things you can do to prevent them from how much do fiscal sponsors charge arising. Clear legal agreements, strong communication, financial transparency and due diligence before accepting a sponsored project can mitigate most risks. A fiscal sponsor can often provide useful advice and help point you in the right direction.

Even corporations can have difficulties creating social programs since donations coming into their organizations are not considered charitable. Social service organizations are easy to spot as potential local partners, but think about other institutions that might have nonprofit status that aren’t as obvious. For example, many libraries, hospitals, schools, and museums are nonprofits or have a nonprofit arm that might be a good fit for your project.

Nature & Activity of Services

Mostly fiscal sponsors charge a percentage of funds raised, although some may charge a flat fee or a monthly rate as well. Percentages for fiscal sponsor services range for Model C fiscal sponsorship from typically on the low side 3% up to 10% of first funds in Model A fiscal sponsorship and everywhere in between. Some Fiscal Sponsors may charge extra for receiving and accounting for large grants. There may be other up charges or hidden costs such as merchant account fees, etc. One should thoroughly question all potential fiscal sponsors to have a comprehensive understanding of their services, costs and fees. For this post, we’ll focus specifically on the administrative fees charged by fiscal sponsors with respect to comprehensive or Model A fiscally sponsored projects (FSPs).

Create a fiscal sponsorship agreement

These fiscal sponsorship relationships are arranged and as time passes and staff change, it’s easy to lose track of the boundaries between the project and the sponsor. This is especially true if the sponsorship isn’t periodically renewed or revisited. While the administrative fee is often described as a service fee, this is also a mischaracterization of the comprehensive fiscal sponsorship relationship. The Model A fiscal sponsor is not like an outside vendor providing bookkeeping, payroll, and financial reporting services to the Steering Committee.

The services available from sponsors vary from nothing to those listed below that are often provided by a professional sponsor. Having your contract reviewed by an attorney is an essential step for any organization acting as a fiscal sponsor. Using the previous example, under the comprehensive model, the staff of Wilderness Women Unite would be considered employees of the American Hiking Society. When those staff members fundraise and manage project activities, they do so as representatives of the American Hiking Society, rather than Wilderness Women Unite. Since the law considers the project and the sponsor to be one legal entity, each can be held responsible for the actions of the other.

In Model A the project focuses only on fundraising and impact and the Sponsor takes care of everything else, accounting, human resources, operations, etc. We receive donated dollars in support of your project and re-grant them to your organization to complete your mission. Model C is best for larger organizations with sufficient operations already in place to handle the administrative workload. Overall, the roles and responsibilities of a fiscal sponsor can vary – based on the agreement – but typically their main purpose is to provide financial support.

Local nonprofits are a great place to start for finding a fiscal sponsor, as you already share a common thread in the geographic community you intend to serve. Next, think about which local nonprofits are similar to your project but different enough that you’ll add value to their work. In the comprehensive model, the fiscal sponsor takes full ownership and control of a sponsored project. In other words, the sponsored project is housed within the fiscal sponsor, as one of its programs.

Millions of dollars are currently in donor-advised funds just waiting to be donated to nonprofits like yours. There are many differences between Model A and Model C and each can be used in different ways to match the specific purpose and operations of your project. To learn more about the differences between Model A and Model C Fiscal Sponsorship, check out our article ”INSERT ARTICLE HERE”. Know that your project will need to follow all the same rules a registered 501(c)(3) does. For example, 501(c)(3) nonprofits cannot engage in political activities like lobbying for legislation or campaigning for particular candidates. Working with the established nonprofit also helped you grow your audience of supporters, as the American Hiking Society shared your brand with its followers.

They can also be a percentage of an awarded grant, taken as an administrative fee. However, fundraising efforts are conducted through the fiscal sponsor to benefit from its tax-exempt status. In this model, the sponsor receives all donations and grants for the project and reports them on their taxes. They’re responsible for all the project’s financial management, including government forms, fund disbursement and all reporting. Often the sponsored project operates from a different physical location than the sponsor so the sponsor may forget to provide proper oversight and support.

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