I find myself explaining fiscal sponsorship a lot lately.

So in case you’re wondering about it, this blog post is for you.

What is fiscal sponsorship?

PBS explains, “Fiscal sponsors are intermediates that allow documentary filmmakers to receive funding that would not usually go to individuals. Some charge fees for this service, but they might also provide other services to help manage the documentary fundraising process.” (source)

I’ve tried explaining it a number of different ways in conversations.

Fiscal sponsors often funnel funds for a filmmaker. Say, for example, you have a friend who wants to contribute cash to your project. They send the check to your fiscal sponsor, and get a tax write-off for their contribution – just like they would for any other non-profit / charitable donation.

Of course, it goes deeper than that.

Having a fiscal sponsor is a form of acceptance in the film world; it’s like being vetted.

Some granting organizations require you to have a fiscal sponsor. It’s a checks and balances system, where the fiscal sponsor helps ensure the grant is being used appropriately. In other words, they make sure you’re not skipping town with the cash, but do what you said you would.

This helps protect all parties, including the filmmaker.

For filmmakers, it’s not just about accessing the cash or making sure contributors get a tax write-off. A lot of times a fiscal sponsor can also provide advice, connections, and guidance for a filmmaker. This is incredibly helpful, especially for emerging filmmakers (like me) who are ready to take their careers and projects to the next level.

Ice Frosting. Impoundment #82263. Photo by Shannon Johnstone. landfilldogs.com.

Ice Frosting. Impoundment #82263. Photo by Shannon Johnstone. landfilldogs.com.

Why share this with you now?

I’ll be applying for fiscal sponsorship for my next film, Good Thing, sometime soon.

If you think of us, please keep the thoughts / prayers / good vibes going that we’re accepted into this program, so we can have the advice and financial support we need to make this movie great.

This will also help me lead my peers as founder of the TriFilm Society. The more big leaps I take, the more information I have to share with my fellow filmmakers.

Thanks, always, for your support!