Fiscal sponsorship enables independent producers to solicit and receive grants and individual donations. It's a powerful tool for nonprofit media and civic organizations to extend their mission, and a great way to empower producers in the field and build capacity in the neglected civic-media sectors.
- Fiscal sponsorship is an alternative to starting your own nonprofit and seeking federal tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.
- Instead of becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, fiscal sponsorship creates a formal relationship between the “fiscal sponsor,” a tax-exempt nonprofit, and the sponsored project that (usually) does not have its own tax-exempt status.
- Through financial and programmatic oversight by the fiscal sponsor, the sponsored project is then able to receive grants and tax-exempt donations from governments, foundations, and individuals.
- Fiscally sponsored affiliates may also be eligible for other services from Independent Arts & Media, and Watershed Media.
Watershed Media does not provide fiscal sponsorship. If you are interested in sponsorship for a media, arts and/or cultural program or project, we recommend our own fiscal sponsor, Independent Arts & Media.
You can also browse the National Fiscal Sponsorship Directory for more options.
Types of fiscal sponsorship: Model A and Model C
Independent Arts & Media offers two types of fiscal sponsorship:
- Model A is a comprehensive and “Direct Project” relationship where IAM adopts your project into our own organization and, as a result, IAM and the Model A Affiliate are legally considered one and the same. IAM provides its Model A Affiliates with a wide range of administrative back-end services, including donor management, bookkeeping, bill pay, tax reporting and insurance. Watershed Media is a Model A affiliate of Independent Arts & Media.
- Model C sponsorship is for independent entities that have a legal, tax and accounting identity separate from IAM. The Model C Affiliate is a “Preapproved Grantee” of charitable funds received by IAM for your project and sponsorship services focus on fundraising support and donor management.
What other services does fiscal sponsorship provide?
Fiscally sponsored affiliates with Independent Arts & Media have access to a variety of key programmatic services, including:
- Insurance (errors and omissions, directors and operators, general liability; Model A only)
- Donation management including IRS-mandated donor confirmation letters
- Ability to receive in kind donations, stock donations and corporate matching grants
- Convenient access to your project’s financial records
- Fundraising and promotional support
- Support with grant applications, administration and reporting
- Vendor bill pay services for all Model A Affiliates (and some Model C’s)
- Referrals for legal, accounting, insurance and other professional services
- Work must be noncommercial in nature — which means that the project cannot have the intent of making a profit for the benefit of the project directors.
- Project must use media, journalism, documentary, presentation and/or discourse to build community participation and engagement.
- Project must empower and sustain independent production.
- Project must serve low-income, neglected, overlooked or otherwise underserved communities and populations.
- Project must otherwise pursue activities that advance Independent Arts & Media’s mission and charitable purpose.
- Must not use funding raised through Independent Arts & Media for: (1) lobbying for or against legislation, or (2) participating, directly or indirectly, in a campaign for or against a candidate for public office.
- Must be based in the United States or have a U.S.-based manager of national, regional or local programming.
Learn more about fiscal sponsorship with Independent Arts & Media