Fiscal sponsorship is a practice that has evolved as an effective and efficient means of starting new charitable initiatives, delivering public services, or seeding social movements. In a typical fiscal sponsorship relationship, a nonprofit organization confers its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to groups that are engaged in activities that align with the host’s mission, typically for a fee. Fiscal sponsor organizations are responsible for assuring the activities of projects fulfill their charitable purpose.
Fiscal sponsor organizations like Tides provide a nonprofit legal framework for their fiscally sponsored partners, support tax-deductible donations to projects, and enable organizations to focus on their mission.
Fiscal sponsorship can offer a valuable alternative to starting a nonprofit. Organizations fiscally sponsored by Tides Center are able to access resources and cost, process, and infrastructure efficiencies created by being part of a collective. Tides has a long history of providing high quality services and support to the nonprofit community and has sponsored over 1,400 projects throughout our history.
Tides is comprised of five separate legal entities – Tides Network, Tides Center, Tides Foundation, Tides Two Rivers Fund and Tides Inc. Tides Network employs the majority of Tides staff who service to other Tides entities. Tides Two Rivers Fund and Tides Inc. operate our two Tides Converge centers in San Francisco and New York.
Tides Foundation serves as a grantmaking organization, holding over 400 donor advised funds, as well as Collective Action and Single Entity Funds. The vast majority of Tides Foundation grants are made based on partner recommendations. Tides Foundation does not take unsolicited grant requests. Tides Center primarily offers fiscal sponsorship and nonprofit acceleration services.
Our organization is made up of five Tides entities: Tides Center; Tides Foundation; Tides Two Rivers Fund; Tides Inc; and Tides Network. Our unique structure helps us connect changemakers in new ways, bringing together their diverse resources and experiences to realize a just and equitable future.
Our Organizational Structure
Tides Network is the “home office” for our other four Tides entities. It provides executive leadership, HR resources, financial management and accounting, legal and risk compliance, communications, and administrative services to advance the programming of the other Tides entities.
Tides’ philanthropy is fueled through Tides Foundation. Its goal is to advance social justice by partnering with funders to more quickly move their resources to social change leaders on the frontlines. Tides Foundation focuses on grantmaking and philanthropic services to doers and donors, including donor advised funds, collective action funds, impact investing, and strategic advisory. Tides Foundation also invests funds in social impact opportunities to support charitable activities in line with the Tides mission. Tides Foundation’s charitable funding comes from grants and donations received through a wide variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, and corporations.
The Tides Center
Tides Center supports social change leaders, connects diverse people and organizations, and powers solutions that come directly from impacted communities. This support includes comprehensive fiscal sponsorship and essential infrastructure, management, consulting, and philanthropic services, including financial, legal, insurance, governance, and human resources support. Our partners then have the freedom to focus on their mission and hit the ground running, backed by a partner committed to amplifying their impact.
Tides Converge: Tides Inc. and Tides Two Rivers Fund
Tides Converge is a shared workspace that brings together leaders from a range of social ventures, linking sectors and crossing boundaries in the pursuit of social justice. Tides Inc. and Tides Two Rivers Fund hold and manage Tides Converge collaborative work and event spaces in San Francisco and New York City, respectively.
Tides Advocacy is a separate 501(c)(4) organization. Explore Tides Advocacy»
There are two major eligibility requirements to open a fund at Tides: mission alignment and confirmed funding.
All funds and their grantmaking purposes must be aligned with Tides vision, mission and approach.
You must have a minimum of $100,000 of committed funding for US-based activity or $50,000 for funds supporting a single domestic project or organization.
While we would love to meet you and hear about your work, we are simply unable to honor such requests due to staff time and resource constraints.
Yes, Tides Center, Tides Foundation, Tides, Inc., Tides Two Rivers Fund and Tides Network are legally distinct organizations, and each is organized and operated under Section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code. Donations can be made to the different Tides entities here.
When evaluating a potential partner, Tides will consider mission alignment, confirmed funding and budget, and legal fit. We encourage potential partners to evaluate Tides as well.
All projects fiscally sponsored by Tides must be aligned with Tides’ vision, mission and approach.
Confirmed funding and budget
Tides is committed to partnering with projects of all sizes and has a history of supporting small organizations. To balance capacity and opportunity Tides annually revises a target mix of potential projects based on annual budget. You will need at least one full time employee who will be employed through Tides. Your organization will typically be charged a 9% fee on all revenues and other fees might apply depending on the source of the grant support or other non-standard services.
Partners should plan to be with Tides for at least two years.
Tides Center’s Board of Directors has full governing authority, and full legal and fiduciary responsibility, for all fiscally sponsored projects, employees, and activities of Tides Center. To uphold Tides Center’s legal nonprofit status, to ensure all fiscally sponsored projects follow the IRS regulations, and to maintain compliance with the law, Tides Center’s staff monitors and maintains the project’s finances, human resources, payroll, leases, contracts, and insurance.
Tides fiscally sponsored projects must have a U.S. base of operations and cannot employ staff outside of the U.S. and its territories.
STEP 1: Determine if project meets eligibility criteria, including mission alignment, confirmed funding and appropriate legal framework.
STEP 2: Begin the process by completing the Partner With Us form on our website.
STEP 3: Have an initial call with Tides staff to discuss your mission, program activities, needs, and timeline.
STEP 4: Tides staff invite those eligible candidates who fit our current criteria to submit an application and select which cycle to be part of. Application is by invitation only and projects are onboarded in four periods annually.
STEP 5: If application is approved by Tides staff, project is onboarded and is active once initial funding is received by Tides.
Still Have Questions?
If you have a question for our team, we would love to hear from you. Please note, Tides does not accept unsolicited letters of inquiry, proposals or applications for funding.