Fiscal Sponsorship FAQ
Answers to common questions about Fiscal Sponsorship with Film Independent.
What is Fiscal Sponsorship?
Fiscal Sponsorship is used primarily when a nonprofit film, 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/my project a nonprofit?
No. Having a nonprofit fiscal sponsor does not qualify an individual as a nonprofit or tax-exempt. Only the IRS can make a tax-exempt ruling.
How can my project benefit from having Fiscal Sponsorship from Film Independent?
Many individual donors, foundations and other funders will only donate to an established 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Additionally, when raising funds for your project, a donor may be more willing to donate a larger amount if the donation is tax deductible.
Does my project retain its own legal identity if it is fiscally sponsored?
Yes. Your project is a separate legal entity and not part of Film Independent. You retain creative control, ownership and responsibility for tax reporting and liability. We do not take any rights in the project.
Can I apply for Fiscal Sponsorship for more than one project?
Yes, but a separate application must be submitted for each project.
When should I apply for Fiscal Sponsorship?
Fiscal sponsorship applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Projects in any stage of development, production or post-production are eligible to apply.
Applications take approximately 4–8 weeks to be assessed, so please plan accordingly.
What kind of projects does Film Independent accept for Fiscal Sponsorship?
The program is open to independent narrative and documentary projects of any length and genre. Film Independent also supports other types of projects and like-minded organizations that further our mission and/or are in the process of obtaining their 501(c)(3) status, including interactive media, podcasts, film festivals and more.
Does my project need to be in a specific stage to apply for Fiscal Sponsorship?
You can apply for Fiscal Sponsorship at any stage of your production, from early development to post-production. You can also apply with the goal of covering film festival and/or distribution costs.
Are non-US citizens eligible?
Yes, we welcome non-US applicants, though there are certain tax restrictions that may apply. Please email email@example.com for more information.
I’ve already begun a crowdfunding campaign. Can I apply for Fiscal Sponsorship?
If you have already launched a crowdfunding campaign via a platform such as Seed & Spark, Film Independent cannot join midway through to offer tax deductible donations. If you are not funding via a platform, feel free to apply anytime.
What fees are associated with the Fiscal Sponsorship program?
To be eligible for Fiscal Sponsorship, you must be a Member of Film Independent (at any level). There is also a $45 application fee, and a 7% administrative fee deducted from contributions made to selected projects.
Why is there an application fee and administrative fee?
A fiscal sponsorship program creates a significant amount of administrative, legal, website and accounting work. The fees cover our administrative and related overhead costs.
How does Film Independent accept donations for my project?
Film Independent can accept donations on your project’s behalf via check, wire transfer and/or direct deposit. We can also receive donations via an online credit card payment portal created specifically for your project.
As a courtesy, Film Independent incurs the credit card transaction fees associated with each online transaction, which can be between 2.5% and 3.5%. For this reason, we suggest that online donations be capped at $10,000. Donors wishing to give in larger increments may use one of our other payment methods.
What is the difference between a donor and an investor?
The words donor and investor are not interchangeable. A donor contributes money to your project and gets a tax receipt in return. A donor cannot receive profits from the project. An investor contributes money to your project and receives their investment principle, plus a return on their investment at the end. An investor cannot receive a tax receipt for invested funds.
Can I finance my film with both investors and donors?
Yes! However, only funds donated by donors can be accepted by Film Independent, and only donors will receive a tax deduction for their donations.
Can I accept in-kind donations for my project?
Yes. Film Independent will provide sponsored projects with a letter you can use to request or acknowledge in-kind donations. Examples of this type of donation include equipment, food for crew, office supplies, etc. to be used directly for the production. Please note that this does not extend to rentals. If a donor has questions about the deductibility of a non-cash contribution, they should contact their tax professional.
How can I see how much money is in my account?
You’ll be able to check the amount of funds in your account by submitting a balance request form. We will then email you a report showing all donations received to date for your project.
For requests submitted by 12:00 pm PT on Fridays, balance reports will be distributed the same day, no later than 6:00 pm PT. Requests submitted after 12:00 pm PT on Fridays will be distributed the following week.
The deadline for requests and distribution of the reports automatically moves to the next business day if Friday falls on a holiday.
How do I request a disbursement of funds?
You may request a disbursement of funds at any time. There is no set amount of funds you are allowed to request, provided the funds are in your account, but we recommend not taking out more than you are likely to spend in a fiscal quarter.
Disbursements are made weekly by ACH, and will post to your account on Friday. Fund disbursement requests must be submitted by Monday at 5:00 pm PT to be included in that week’s ACH. Any disbursement requests submitted after the Monday deadline will be included in the following week’s ACH. If Monday falls on a holiday, the deadline for disbursement requests automatically moves to the next business day.
Can my project be fiscally sponsored by more than one organization at a time?
If you have already applied for a fiscal sponsorship with another organization, please do not apply with Film Independent until you know whether or not your other application has been accepted.
What kind of reporting do I have to provide?
Project representatives are required to submit an annual report to Film Independent once a year in March. The project report is a way for us to check in with you about your project’s progress, and for you to update us on any changes that may have taken place during the previous calendar year.
Along with the report, you will be required to upload a cost report accounting for all funds that have been distributed to you over the previous calendar year, and how they have been allocated. Though we do not require proof of receipt or invoices, we do reserve the right to request them.
How long can a project raise funds with Film Independent?
Your account may be open for as long as you need to raise funds for your project.
Does Film Independent help filmmakers with fundraising?
The applicant is responsible for fundraising. When you are accepted to our Fiscal Sponsorship program, you are welcome to schedule a funding consultation. Film Independent can help guide you to the right resources and answer any questions you have, but you will own the fundraising outreach effort.
How should Film Independent be listed in the credits of my film?
Acknowledgement must include our logo, which we provide upon request, as well as the phrase “Fiscal Sponsorship provided by Film Independent”
What is Film Independent’s EIN?
I still have questions – how can I contact you?
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also happy to set a time to answer questions via a phone call.