Tides provides grantmaking and other support to social change leaders to help build a world of shared prosperity and social justice.
A Tides Collective Action Fund (CAF) is a purpose-driven fund that relies on an independent advisory committee to make recommendations to Tides for grants in support of a specific charitable purpose.
How does a CAF work?
- The independent advisory committee (IAC) is composed of individuals committed to the fund purpose and with expertise or experience to support the achievement of that purpose.
- The committee reviews grant requests, then makes recommendations to Tides that align with the CAF’s charitable purpose and goals.
- Tides reviews the recommendations for legal compliance and support of Tides’ mission and values and then makes a final decision on the grant request.
CAFs can accept charitable contributions from a variety of sources, including individuals, donor advised funds, private foundations and corporations.
Do grants from the CAF support political candidates or campaigns?
No. Tides Foundation is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and CAFs are prohibited from funding partisan political activity.
Can Tides overrule the recommendation of the Independent Advisory Committee?
CAFs benefit from the input of the independent advisory committee. The intent is to follow its recommendations. However, Tides may reject recommendations that are inconsistent with the CAF’s purpose, don’t support Tides’ charitable mission, or are not in compliance with applicable law.
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 our “home office.” It provides executive leadership, HR resources, financial management and accounting, legal and compliance, communications, and administrative services to advance the programming of the other Tides entities.
Tides Foundation leads Tides’ philanthropic work. The goal of the foundation is to advance social justice by partnering with funders to more quickly move their resources to social change leaders from communities historically denied power. Tides Foundation focuses on grantmaking and philanthropic services to doers and donors, including donor advised funds, collective action funds, and strategic advisory services. 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, families, foundations, and corporations.
Tides Center supports social change leaders, connects diverse people and organizations, and powers solutions that come directly from communities historically denied power, including women, economically disadvantaged communities, and communities of color. We offer comprehensive fiscal sponsorship—–including financial, compliance, insurance, governance, and human resources support—–as well as management, consulting, and grantmaking services.
Tides Converge: Tides Inc. and Tides Two Rivers Fund
Tides Converge is a shared workspace that brings together a diverse community of leaders and organizations, 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.
Tides offers a wide range of fund options to meet philanthropic objectives across the globe. Fees can range from 1% on standard donor advised funds to 5% for funds supporting a single domestic or international project or organization. Tides staff can review your proposed fund activity and give a clear assessment of potential fees.
Opening a fund at Tides generally takes 2-3 weeks upon receipt of a completed fund application. Please note that any complexities or clarifications uncovered during the application review process may prolong the timeline to open a fund.
No. Funds at Tides must be opened with a minimum of $100,000 of committed funding for US-based activity or $50,000 for funds supporting a single domestic or international project or organization.
The first step in opening a fund at Tides is determining mission alignment. If The Tides Approach aligns with your vision, reach out to us via the Partner With Us form, and Tides staff will contact you for an initial assessment.
Once ready to open a fund, you’ll receive a short online application to collect necessary information for opening a fund and for final assessment of fit with Tides.
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.
To submit all reports, please visit www.tidesgrantreports.org and follow the instructions on the website. If you do not have internet access, please mail one copy of your report, Attn: Grants Administration, to Tides Foundation’s office at 1012 Torney Ave, San Francisco, CA 94129. Please refer to your award letter for any additional reporting instructions, and please do not send additional materials unless requested.
By accepting payment of the grant, you agreed that any portion of the grant not used for the stated purpose be repaid to Tides by your organization. You may request a reallocation of funds for a different purpose. Any change of purpose must be requested and approved in advance, in writing to [email protected]. Reallocations or changes to a grant’s purpose may be considered but are not guaranteed to be approved.
Briefly describe the use of the funds and activities undertaken as a result of the grant by addressing the impact and assessment, challenges encountered, evaluation and lessons learned and a general organizational budget.
Most annual reports are sufficient if submitted with a cover letter.
Organizations outside the US: If your organization received a grant award letter from Tides but did not receive a Mandatory Report Form, email [email protected] to request a reporting template. If your organization is not registered with the United States IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity, your organization likely has received an Expenditure Responsibility grant. If that is the case, your organization must use Tides Foundation’s Mandatory Report Form to detail funds received or spent during a calendar year. The form asks for confirmation of basic grant information, a statement of compliance with the grant award letter, and fiscal information. If you do not spend all of the funds granted during the first year, your organization is required to complete an additional mandatory report form for every year until all of the funds are spent. If your organization has spent all the funds, you must provide a financial statement detailing your use of the Expenditure Responsibility grant monies only. A narrative report must also accompany the final expense report. Please note: Tides will not issue any new grants or disbursements to organizations with outstanding overdue mandatory reports until the report is received. You may additionally be required to submit narrative progress or final reports which may be 2–3 pages detailing the activities undertaken as a result of your grant.
US-based organizations: If your organization is a 501(c)(3), reporting requirements are outlined in your award letter. Unless otherwise noted, for both progress and final reports, the narrative portion should be up to two pages and describe the use of the funds and activities undertaken as a result of the grant by addressing the following: – Impact and Assessment – Challenges – Evaluation and Lessons Learned – Funding and Finances. We also require financial information for the purpose of the grant. Please do not send additional materials unless requested.
As consistent with regulations guiding donor advised funds, our donors have agreed not to receive goods or services in exchange for donations that they recommend for funding. They are not eligible to receive memberships, event tickets or tables, special notification for discounts on event tickets or tables, or any gifts that are more than an incidental benefit.
If you received an Expenditure Responsibility grant, there is a time period in which the funds must be spent. The grant period is listed on your grant award letter and will either be 12 or 24 months, unless otherwise specified. For all other grant types, the grant period is one year (12 months), unless otherwise specified.
If you have received a grant award letter, the payment method will be indicated in the first paragraph. Wires can take up to five to seven business days to post to your account. Checks are mailed separately from the award letters. If your organization uses a fiscal sponsor, the payment will be sent to your fiscal sponsor and you have received a hard copy of the award letter. We recommend that you first check with your finance department and/or your local bank (if the funds were wired) to locate the payment. Please contact the Grants department at [email protected] if there appears to be an error.
If the grant award letter does not specify a fund or individual’s name, then that grantmaking partner has asked us to use an anonymous credit. Donors sometimes come to Tides because they wish to remain anonymous and we honor that request.
It is at the discretion of our fund advisors whether or not to contact grantee organizations. We do not share contact information with grantees unless requested to do so by the fund advisor.
Because Tides primarily holds donor advised funds, renewed funding is based on the recommendation of our fund advisors. Unless specifically requested, please do not send renewal solicitations, newsletters, or other correspondence that you might typically share with an individual donor. The only follow-up information that we need is a grant report, if the report was a required part of your grant.
Donor advised funds generally give to more than one group or entity. Single entity and global support funds only give to one entity. Collective action funds may give to one or more groups or entities.
Donor advised funds generally receive funds from one donor and are subject to significant restrictions on any payments to donors, donor advisors or related parties. Single-entity funds and global support funds receive funds from multiple funding sources and make payments to one pre-designated grantee. Donors do not receive compensation or reimbursement through granted funds but fund managers may if they are employed or engaged by the grantee. Collective Action Funds generally receive funds from multiple sources; Tides monitors grants from Collective Action Funds to avoid improper conflicts of interest.
Donor(s) and/or designated donor advisor(s) may recommend grants for any donor advised fund. Fund manager(s) may recommend grants for single entity and global support funds. An independent advisory committee recommends grants from collective action funds.
For donor-advised funds, the donor or donor advisor plays a role in recommending grants. Single entity funds and global support funds are for a single pre-selected grantee; donors generally intend for funding to be regranted to the designated grantee. For a collective action fund, the donor or donor advisor may play a role in recommending grants as part of an independent advisory committee (IAC) but may not have control over grant recommendations. CAF donors may not earmark contributions for a specific project or organization, unless the subgrantee and related grant proposal has been pre-approved by the IAC and Tides.
Tides Foundation seeks to promote the principles of trust-based philanthropy in its grantmaking while also securing sufficient reporting from grantees to ensure use of grant funds in compliance with 501(c)(3) rules. For all donor-advised funds, annual reporting is required for expenditure responsibility (ER) grants. For single entity funds and global support funds, annual financial and narrative reports are required and due on March 31st. Tides Foundation may request other reporting from grantees based on fund and compliance needs.
A Tides fiscally sponsored project's director is responsible for overall programmatic operations, all fundraising and the financial sustainability of the project, and the supervision of their employees and volunteers. Directors must:
- Maintain an effective working relationship with Tides
- Ensure all staff are trained to follow all Tides processes and procedures
- Manage finances in accordance with Tides cash management policies
- Authorize all financial transactions in accordance with funding guidelines and Tides policies
- Direct allocations of financial and human resources to successfully carry out the project’s mission and activities within Tides and funding guidelines
- Ensure compliance with applicable employment laws, rules and regulations
- Communicate the goals, policies, and procedures of the project and Tides to staff, volunteers, and participants
- Provide employees clear direction, set appropriate work standards, and ensure a fair and healthy work environment
- Follow all Tides procedures associated with the obligation and expenditure of funds. Develop, submit to Tides, and manage the annual budget and regularly review the fiscally sponsored project’s fiscal status with Tides staff
- Assure timely and accurate delivery of all requisite information for employee benefit elections and Supplemental Personnel Policies, the hiring and terminating of employees, and any other employee status changes
- Resolve any excess expenditure, unallowable cost, personnel, or other risk management issues of the fiscally sponsored project in a timely manner
- Review staff job performance and address any employee performance issues in consultation with Tides
- Prepare grant proposals consistent with Tides policies and ensure compliance with all grant agreements
- Inform Tides of any new program activities in order to assure timely budgeting and assessment of potential risks
- Develop internal systems to effectively collaborate with Tides and track activities as required
- Maintain clear communication with the project’s advisory board, consult with the advisory board when appropriate, and keep Tides informed of all current advisory board members’ names, contact information, and term-ending dates
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.
Tides Center projects are covered by a robust insurance portfolio structured to protect against a broad range of property & casualty and management liability exposures. Insurance costs are not included in the standard fee charged for Tides’ fiscal sponsorship services. You will instead receive an annual allocation bill for your insurance coverage. Allocation amounts vary across projects but are based on risk factors such as revenue and employee count. Please note that some specialized programs (such as farming, legal services, and counseling) may require additional coverage.
Tides encourages its fiscally sponsored projects to engage in forms of lobbying and advocacy activities permissible under our 501(c)(3) designation. We are obliged to track all such activities, as the IRS places a cap on total lobbying expenditures. Tides fiscally sponsored projects may always engage in non-partisan research and get-out-the-vote efforts. IRS regulations for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations such as Tides preclude fiscally sponsored projects from engaging in direct or implied support or opposition of any candidate or party.
Tides manages all incoming and outgoing funds for each of its fiscally sponsored projects and processes all financial transactions on their behalf. Tides provides a financial orientation that covers Tides financial services overview, budgeting, cash management, coding expenses, monitoring expenses, the Tides chart of accounts, systems training (including NetSuite), and reading and utilizing the monthly financial statements prepared by Tides. Invoices are paid via check or ACH on a weekly basis and expedited payments are available for an extra charge. Fiscally sponsored projects are able to access their funds via purchase cards, direct invoicing, and petty cash accounts. Fiscally sponsored projects are responsible for coding transactions, submitting original receipts, honoring our timelines, and monitoring their own cash flow.
Tides fiscally sponsored projects are required to offer all full-time staff Tides’ comprehensive health and dental benefits package; part-time staff may also be eligible. There is a selection of HMO and individual provider plans to choose from. Coverage for spouses, children, and domestic partners is also available at the discretion of each individual project.
Tides provides financial, human resources, and compliance services to projects. A comprehensive list of these services is available here. At this time we are not able to allow groups to choose from among the offerings. In addition, Tides provides capacity building programming and strategic advising services that are tailored to the needs of each partner.
Tides partners with individuals, groups, and funders to accelerate social justice. We believe that a just and equitable future can exist only when communities who have been historically denied power have the social, political, and economic power they need to create it. To make that a reality, we work in deep partnership with doers and donors to center the leadership of changemakers committed to these communities, connecting them to services, capacity building, and resources to increase and amplify their impact. Contact us through our partnership form to learn more about partnering with Tides.
A well-run nonprofit can expect to spend between 20-30% of annual revenue on administrative and overhead expenses. For the comprehensive suite of back-office services, legal framework, and capacity-building support that Tides Center provides, typical fiscally sponsored projects pay only 9% of their annual revenue. Fiscal sponsorship can be an efficient, economic way to reduce the cost of running an organization and still maintain the integrity of the organization’s purpose.
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.
While these activities can be done simultaneously, before submitting the Partner With Us form to Tides, you must have funding confirmed as well as a clear fundraising plan to sustain your charitable efforts. If you are invited to submit a full application, Tides can work with you to communicate to donors that you are in the process of obtaining fiscal sponsorship. In most cases, this is sufficient for you to continue raising funds.
Tides does not provide funding to fiscally sponsored projects. Organizations accepted as Tides fiscally sponsored projects are responsible for developing and executing their own fundraising plans. Tides manages confirmed grants and grant reporting. In addition, Tides provides opportunities to build capacity through learning opportunities and strategic advising support.
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.
Finally, projects need to be involved in the Tides Risk and Insurance program and reserve a minimum of $4,000 of gross annual revenue per year for operating liability. Projects are evaluated annually for increased exposure and fees may be adjusted.
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.
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 US base of operations and cannot employ staff outside of the US and its territories.