The Film Collaborative recently started a fiscal sponsorship program to help filmmakers get access to funds they would not be able to obtain without 501c(3) status.  The program is now fully up and running, headed by Lynnette Gryseels, former Fiscal Sponsorship Director at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco.  We have been getting lots of questions from interested filmmakers so here are the answers to many of them.  There is also a lot of information available on our website.

What is fiscal sponsorship and how does it benefit artists? 

Fiscal Sponsorship is used primarily when a non-profit film/video project or event wants to secure funding from private, foundation, government or corporate sources that give only to nonprofit organizations with IRS tax-exempt status. To be considered exempt, an organization must hold a current 501(c)(3) certificate from the IRS.

What are the benefits to the filmmaker that they couldn’t do on their own?

Many funding opportunities are not available without tax exempt 501(c)(3) status

What does TFC look for in projects to grant fiscal representation?

Projects must be consistent with the Film Collaborative’s charitable purposes. This means that any project you are proposing must be noncommercial and represent an imaginative contribution to the film or video art form.  Project can NOT be a “work for hire.”  Once that criteria is met, we look for projects that are well thought out and have a good chance of getting funding and being completed.  Prior filmmaking experience is helpful or if you are new, it helps to have a production team of experienced  people; an advisory board with experience mentors is helpful as well and will help make up for a lack of experience with new filmmakers.  A polished proposal is essential.  Send us your best effort following the directions and if your project looks promising, we will help guide you to develop your proposal further.

If I apply, am I guaranteed to get accepted?

No.  The Film Collaborative is not obliged to supply fiscal sponsorship.  We will sponsor projects that are in alignment with the TFC mission and have strong, fundable applications.  When we agree to become your fiscal sponsor, we are allowing you to use the TFC name to show support for your film.  Therefore, we will only approve a project when the proposal is ready to be submitted to funders.

Is it only for US citizens or those operating within the US?

You do not need to live in the United States or be a citizen to apply for fiscal sponsorship.  As long as one of your project’s named project directors has Social Security Number (SSN), Employer Identification Number (EIN), Independent Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or other type of IRS registration.  See the IRS for more information on obtaining the correct tax registration for non-residents.

Does one have to be a member of TFC to apply?

Yes. Applicants need to be a TFC member at the minimum Contributor level.  See to sign up.

How does one qualify?

To qualify, you must have

-A film project; documentary, narrative or short in any stage of production;

-You must  join the Film Collaborative at the Contributor level or higher;

-Your project must be consistent with the Film Collaborative charitable purposes, is noncommercial and/or educational and represents an imaginative contribution to the film or video art form;

-The project may not be “work for hire”;

-You must be seeking donations in the form of grants from public agencies, foundations, corporations, or individual donors including fundraising benefits.

What is the submission process?

1.         Join The Film Collaborative;

2.         Pay the $35 fiscal sponsorship application fee;

3.         Fill out and submit the online application form, and upload a PDF of your project proposal.

The application you submit to the Film Collaborative will also serve as a blueprint that you will use to secure funding by applying for grants or present to prospective contributors.  Our goal is to help you build the best possible proposal in order to go forward and successfully raise the necessary funds to realize your project.  Therefore, we accept projects with proposals that are ready to go.

What is the submission deadline?

There are no submission deadlines.  Applications are open.

After I receive backing from TFC, what happens?

Once accepted, we will send you a copy of the Fiscal Sponsorship contract, a W9 form, a welcome package which includes a fiscal sponsorship support letter, tax ID number, a copy of your signed contract and information on how to set up online donations.  Donors to your project can contribute online using a credit card or write checks to the Film Collaborative.  Donations will be disbursed at the end of each month.

Once your project is accepted you can now apply for funds from public agencies, foundations, corporations, or individual donors.  TFC will provide you with the necessary documentation to show that your project is fiscally sponsored.

Can I apply to the NEA, NEH, NSF or other government agencies?

The Film Collaborative cannot submit applications on filmmakers’ behalf to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Science Foundation (NSF).  Ask us about all other government agencies.

What are the administrative fees involved and what do they pay for?

Applicants must join the TFC and pay a $35 non-refundable application fee.  After that TFC takes 5% of funds donated to your project.  These fees pay for overhead such as staff time processing applications and donations.

Is there a reporting process?

Yes.  You must report to TFC twice a year on all funds received for your project, monies spent and any significant budget changes.  Failure to comply with the reporting process will result in project termination.

Does TFC provide advice on contacting donors and soliciting funding?

We can provide some advice and answer questions.   You are responsible for applying for your own funds and sourcing your own donors.

Is there a difference between this service and others like Fractured Atlas?

Yes.  TFC only sponsors film projects, Fractured Atlas sponsors many other types of projects in addition to film.  The 5% TFC fee is the lowest of any known film project fiscal sponsor.

How long does the fiscal sponsorship stay active?

Your fiscal sponsorship will remain active as long as your reports to the TFC are up to date and you are still working on your film.  Projects that fall behind on reports will be terminated and will require a fee to reinstate.  Any funds donated to a dormant or terminated project cannot be dispersed until the project reporting is brought up to date.

Is the TFC fiscal sponsorship program exclusive?

Yes and no.  Your project can have another fiscal sponsor that is not a film project fiscal sponsor, for example, a community organization or something related to your project is fine.

Can name changes or change of control happen under the sponsorship?

Yes, on a case by case basis, depending on the change required.  Please ask.

Can I change my project or have more than one project entered into the program?

Depending on the nature of the change it may be considered a new project.  Multiple projects by one filmmaker are possible.

What is your background with fiscal sponsorship/grant funding applications?

The TFC fiscal sponsorship program is headed by the former director of fiscal sponsorship at the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco.  We are used to reviewing proposals, have relationships with funders and can advise you on creating an attractive funding application.


Lynnette Gryseels

Lynnette is passionate about film and helping filmmakers tell thought-provoking stories that entertain, assist social change and support their filmmaking aspirations. She has over 15 years experience working with independent filmmakers, non-profit film organizations and several local and international film festivals. She has previously assisted filmmakers in learning their craft through educational program development and project development support. At Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco Lynnette headed the Fiscal Sponsorship and Grants Program, one of the oldest fiscal sponsorship programs in the country. She brings a depth of knowledge from this experience to her role as head of TFC’s fiscal sponsorship program.


July 3rd, 2012

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