Fiscal Sponsor Guidelines

If your group has not yet received federal nonprofit, tax-exempt status, you may apply by using
another federal nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, an accredited nonprofit school, a tribal
government, or a unit of government as a fiscal sponsor. Note: A Fiscal Sponsor is different than a
Fiscal Agent. ARAC will not accept grants using a Fiscal Agent.

Fiscal Sponsorship:

The term “Fiscal Sponsorship” describes an arrangement between a nonprofit
organization (or those entities listed above), and a project, often a new charitable effort, conducted
by an organization, group or an individual that does not have nonprofit status. Fiscal sponsorship
permits the exempt sponsor to accept funds restricted for the sponsored project on the project’s
behalf. The sponsor, in turn, accepts the responsibility to ensure the funds are properly spent to
achieve the project’s goals.

The sponsor must have “complete discretion and control” over the funds. This means the sponsor
must be legally responsible for the funds to ensure that payment of funds to the sponsored project
are made to further the sponsor’s own tax-exempt purposes. It is important for a sponsor and its
project to understand the exact nature of their relationship and to memorialize the terms in a written

Elements of Fiscal Sponsorship:

  • The Fiscal Sponsor acts as a guardian of the funds for an organization that does not have
    nonprofit status;
  • The funds received by the sponsor must be used for specific charitable projects that further
    the sponsor’s own tax-exempt purpose;
  • The sponsor must retain discretion and control as to the use of the funds;
  • The sponsor must maintain records that establish that the funds were used for nonprofit
  • The project should either be short-term or the non-exempt organization should be actively
    seeking its own tax-exempt status.

Finding a Fiscal Sponsor:

Start by making a list of organizations familiar with your work and add any that appear to have a
similar purpose to yours. You need to confirm the organization’s nonprofit status. Meet with
someone from each of those organizations and discuss your project and desired fiscal sponsorship
relationship. Organization’s that are willing to serve as fiscal sponsors typically do so for a modest

Fiscal Sponsor Agreement:

ARAC requires that Grantees submit a Fiscal Sponsor Agreement with their project application
showing that an agreement has been formally made between the Grantee and a Fiscal Sponsor. The
agreement must be signed by the Fiscal Sponsor party. Below is an example of what a Fiscal
Sponsor Agreement should look like and include (this is only an example and applicants are not
required to follow this template).

Fiscal Sponsor Agreement sample

For more information on how to use a fiscal sponsor to apply for funding, contact the office by calling (218)722-0952 or (800)569-8134, or by emailing