Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal sponsorship at Tides is a powerful tool for justice. Our unique fiscal sponsorship offerings provide changemakers with a variety of options. Whether they’re fundraising for a specific initiative or relying on our full infrastructure to run their organization, we help social change leaders fuel their mission-driven work.

three people of color holding signs related to voting
three people of color holding signs related to voting

How Does Fiscal Sponsorship Work?

A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit that extends its legal and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to efforts that align with its mission. We provide two options to meet our partners’ needs: Model A fiscal sponsorship for full-scale support and Model C fiscal sponsorship primarily for grantmaking purposes.

Model A Fiscal Sponsorship

Model A fiscal sponsorship is built for leaders who are looking to run a mission-driven organization and need finance, legal, and human resource support. Offered through Tides Center, Model A fiscal sponsorship unlocks a toolbox of resources that provide operational efficiencies, cost savings, and compliance support, along with connections to our network of leaders. Today, we’re privileged to serve 130 fiscally sponsored partners through our offerings, including:

  • 501(c)(3) status: Extend our nonprofit status to raise funds for your organization. 
  • Operational guidance: Gain knowledgeable support from a designated advisor and nonprofit and philanthropy experts who share your values.
  • Financial accounting: Track and monitor all revenues and expenditures, with monthly financial reports and annual auditing.
  • Human resources (HR) management: Get full-cycle support to hire, retain, and develop employees, and synchronize key HR functions.
  • Payroll processing services: Tides Center handles payroll and files the necessary compliance returns and reports.
  • Benefits administration: We offer access to top carriers and values-aligned benefit options.
  • Grants management: Tides Center administers all grant agreements and supports reporting.

Model C Fiscal Sponsorship

Model C fiscal sponsorship is an option for leaders primarily interested in fundraising and grantmaking. Also called a single entity fund at Tides, Model C fiscal sponsorship helps changemakers respond quickly to temporary or targeted needs — whether they’re a leader empowering proximate communities or an organization without 501(c)(3) status starting a charitable initiative to provide their programs to people in need. Offered through Tides Foundation, this option connects partners with:

  • Fundraising: Donors can make tax-deductible donations to support your organization’s mission.
  • Grants management: Tides Foundation administers all grant agreements.

Get Started With Fiscal Sponsorship at Tides

Comparing Model A vs. Model C Fiscal Sponsorship

Learn about the different ways fiscal sponsorship can support mission-driven work.

Chart that shows differences between Model A and Model C fiscal sponsorship at Tides


Why Tides?

Tides brings deep expertise in nonprofit management and social justice to support our fiscally sponsored partners in amplifying their impact.


Tides seeks to realize a more just and equitable future by centering the leadership of communities who’ve been historically denied power. Through fiscal sponsorship, we equip our partners with the tools to address challenges within these communities, from climate justice to voting rights.


Creating and managing an independent nonprofit or charitable initiative can be expensive, time-consuming, and complex. Tides’ long track record of operational excellence in nonprofit and grantmaking operations supports changemakers in launching new ideas or enhancing existing ones. We manage the behind-the-scenes, so our partners can focus their energy where it matters most: advancing justice on the ground.


Tides Center is more than a fiscal sponsor — we’re a partner at every step of the journey toward social justice. Our team works closely alongside our partners to provide the back-end infrastructure for their work, including managing day-to-day operational functions, strategic advising and capacity-building, and flexible and responsive grantmaking. 


Though our partners can use fiscal sponsorship to receive donations and reduce the burdens of administration and compliance, our Model A fiscal sponsorship option means partners don’t have the flexibility to choose some of their own services, like insurance carrier, bank, or benefits. We’ll always explain these details fully and honestly, so our partners can make informed decisions.

Community Stories

Celebrate the ingenuity and tenacity of the bold visionaries working with Tides to foster change.

  • The Transformational Prison Project, partnered with Tides to access the operational infrastructure it needed to address harms and strengthen the communities most impacted by the prison system. TPP has helped countless people, building momentum for its goal to achieve criminal justice reform.

    Learn More
    Armand Coleman (third from left), Executive Director of the Transformational Prison Project, a fiscally sponsored project of Tides Center, with three men from the program's leadership team.

Interested in partnering With Tides?

There’s no greater force than the collective power of people united for justice. Join us to fuel lasting change.

Connect with Tides

Frequently Asked Questions


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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