What is Fiscal Sponsorship?

Fiscal sponsorship is an efficient means of starting new charitable initiatives, delivering public services, and 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 serve the project’s mission, typically for a fee. Donations to the project are directed to the fiscal sponsor and are restricted by the fiscal sponsor to support activities of the social venture. The fiscal sponsor is responsible for assuring the activities of the project fulfill their charitable purpose. 

Tides Center is a 501(c)(3) public charity organization that offers fiscal sponsorship to 160+ projects. As a fiscal sponsor, Tides provides fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services to help build the capacity of charitable projects. 

Learn more about Fiscal Sponsorship at Tides»

 

Why Fiscal Sponsorship at Tides?

Tides is the leading fiscal sponsor for social change initiatives in the United States. We have a long history of providing high quality services and support to our community and have sponsored over 1,400 emerging nonprofits. Tides Center is committed to the missions of its projects, and all have a common vision of shared prosperity and social justice.

 

Becoming a Fiscally Sponsored Project at Tides

Tides Center accepts fiscal sponsorship applications all year long. We review and approve applications three times per year — in spring, summer, and fall cohorts. This allows you to prepare in advance and choose the application window that is best for you.

Phase 1 |  Partnership Assessment and Application Invitation
After you’ve completed Tides’ Partner With Us form, we’ll initiate a phone call to determine fit and alignment with Tides’ Vision, Mission and Approach. If a fit is determined, you’ll be invited to apply for fiscal sponsorship.

Phase 2 | Application Review and Approval
Tides reviews your application and, if needed, we’ll provide feedback. Once feedback has been reconciled, then your application will be approved.

Phase 3 | Onboarding
You’ll complete final steps and begin the onboarding process including signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), receipt of required funding, and meeting service teams — including a dedicated advisor, senior accountant, and HR Manager.

Phase 4 | Cohort Orientation
During this final phase, you’ll participate in a series of training sessions with other fiscally sponsored partners.

 

What to Expect

Phase 1 |  Partnership Assessment and Application Invitation
A Tides Strategic Partnership (SP) team member will host initial calls with you to gather information about the goals, needs, and activities of your project.

We’ll assess fit and alignment with Tides’ mission, eligibility requirements, and service capacity. We’ll also review general questions regarding fiscal sponsorship as well as address any specific questions you have. If we determine your project is a strong fit for fiscal sponsorship at Tides, your SP contact will invite you to submit an online application.

Phase 2 | Application Review and Approval
Once you complete and submit your application, department leads from Human Resources, Finance, Client Services, Legal, and Strategic Partnerships will review your application and provide feedback. Our insurance carrier will also be notified of your application to review and assess insurance eligibility and requirements. Once feedback has been reconciled, then applications are approved.

Phase 3 | Onboarding
We finalize the terms of the fiscal sponsorship relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). If you are a transfer client, all transfer agreements must be finalized during this phase. Our HR Manager will reach out to you to begin the hiring process for your team.

Your Strategic Partnerships contact will introduce you to your Tides service team, consisting of an Advisor, Human Resources Manager, and Sr. Project Accountant. These team members will help you with your transition to Tides.

Phase 4 | Cohort Orientation
In this final phase, your project will participate in a series of training sessions with other project cohort partners. The trainings will focus on Tides’ policies & processes, our systems, and partnership expectations.

 

What Does Fiscal Sponsorship Cost?

For the comprehensive suite of acceleration services that Tides provides, including financial management, legal framework, and capacity-building support, projects pay only 9% of their annual revenue.

A well-run independent nonprofit can expect to spend between 20-30% of annual revenue on administrative and overhead expenses. Tides Center fees are in line with other fiscal sponsors practicing similar models of fiscal sponsorship.

After the first year of activity, projects that exceed $1 million in operational activity can qualify for a reduced fee for revenue that exceeds $1 million.

The fee for all funding from government sources is 15%. The fee is higher for this type of funding because government grants entail significantly more auditing and reporting services.

 

Have More Questions?

Please visit our FAQs. If you still have questions that aren’t answered here or in our FAQs, please contact us.

 

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