Building Community Power
Communities historically denied power already possess the knowledge to realize a just future. At Tides, we shift money, power, and resources to social change leadership within these communities to propel their work.
Our Innovative Solutions Help our Partners:
- Scale their justice-advancing ideas, backed by our robust financial and operational infrastructure
- Raise tax-deductible donations to support mission-driven work
- Unite individuals or organizations around their shared passion for advancing social justice
Tides partnered with the Green New Deal Network — a coalition of environmental and climate justice organizations — to oversee grantmaking administration and due diligence as they push for policy solutions to address the climate crisis. Since 2019, the Green New Deal Network has sparked the passage of a federal commitment and three major federal investment packages totaling nearly $3.5 trillion to push for environmental and climate justice.
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.