Sponsorship FAQ

A fiscal sponsor is an organization that agrees to accept, and be responsible for, tax-deductible contributions and charitable gifts on behalf of a project that does not have its own tax exemption. Using a fiscal sponsor, a non-exempt individual, project, event, or organization can take advantage of a lot of the benefits of a tax exempt nonprofit organization.
Fiscal Sponsorship is a good solution for organizations (or certain individual projects or events) that only want to do a few small projects over a specified period of time, those who don’t have the time or staff for a lot of organizational administration, or those who need to be able to receive tax-deductible donations while they wait for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status approval from the IRS.
A fiscal sponsor:
- Accepts and safeguards charitable donations on behalf of a project
- Takes on legal liability for those funds
- Creates and maintains some accounting records for the project
- Qualifies the project for some grants and funding that would otherwise be inaccessible
- Brings experience to the project and may provide such additional aids such as administrative services and/or strategic planning assistance
Legally, any existing tax exempt nonprofit organization can act as a fiscal sponsor (including a church or library) but, because of the legal complexity and administration required, not all non profits will do so. If you’re looking for a fiscal sponsor, it’s best to partner with an organization with which you have a good relationship, and/or one that has an existing fiscal sponsorship program.

Fresh Arts’ fiscal sponsorship program is designed for artist-led groups and projects. Our sponsored projects must have a nonprofit purpose, and the arts product or process must be based in Houston, TX.

A “nonprofit purpose” means that the organization or project’s mission comes before any individual’s advancement or profit motive. That mission must also be in service of some aspect of the “public good.”

Fresh Arts can sponsor sole proprietorships, nonprofit corporations, or single-member LLCs that are non-profit in purpose and meet all other eligibility requirements.

Yes! For our purposes, we only require that the arts product (i.e. the festival or performance) and/or process (i.e. the creation of the art work) be based in Houston. Note that many popular funders (like Houston Arts Alliance) do require proof of Houston residency to be awarded grant funding - do your due diligence in knowing all the requirements funders set.

Yes - for Fresh Arts’ purposes, though you likely will need to compromise in order to meet IRS tax requirements.

Tax requirements depend on your business structure. Most nonprofits start as a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC, or an unincorporated association, and so the finances must be associated with one person’s name and social security or tax ID number. It would be up to that person to claim income and expenses on their taxes in Schedule C. That’s not to say that funds raised by the group can’t help offset that burden. Your group can decide to hire a professional to do that individual’s taxes, for example.

All of Fresh Arts’ fiscally sponsored projects and organizations are self-managed, which means that they are responsible for filing their own tax return. Fresh Arts treats you like an independent contractor.

If your project is a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC, or unincorporated association, you will need to account for your project on your personal tax return(s). This means you will need to:

– Fill out a 1099-MISC form for any individual(s) you pay a total of $600 or more during the calendar year.

– Claim all income from Fresh Arts on your tax return and deduct project expenses by filling out a Schedule C.

Sponsoring organizations nearly always charge fees to cover administration costs. Ours include a $100 application fee, a $100 annual renewal fee to maintain active in the program after the first 12 months, and 7% (+ any additional credit card processing fees that may apply) of any funds that are deposited with us.

Fresh Arts offers fiscal sponsorship because it is an important part of our non-profit mission; the fees do not cover the full cost of the program’s costs.

The primary benefit of fiscal sponsorship is the ability to receive tax-deductible donations for nonprofit work.

Additional program benefits include:
- Access to other low-cost Fresh Arts programming and services
- Your project’s money held in a separate account and available to you as needed (given adequate notice)
- Letters of agreement for grant applications available as needed (you must inform Fresh Arts of your intent to apply before a proposal is due)
- Donors (individual and corporation/foundation) are sent acknowledgements from Fresh Arts to document tax deductions
- Your project’s own online fundraising page on Fresh Arts’ website
- Access to Fresh Arts’ DipJar inventory (first come, first serve basis)

First, make sure you meet all of Fresh Arts’ eligibility requirements. If you still have specific questions, you can email jessica@fresharts.org.

Applications are reviewed by a selection committee once a month. Projects are then notified of their admittance or receive follow-up questions for further review.

We receive applications on an ongoing basis and they are reviewed the second Wednesday of each month. Typically, the process from receipt of application to acceptance usually takes about 4-6 weeks.

Congratulations! We’ll send you our program manual and contract to review, sign, and return to us.

Once we have a signed contract on file, we’ll set you up on our website so that you can start receiving online (tax-deductible!) donations. We’ll also hook you up with helpful information/tools to start your sponsorship on the right foot. Then, let us know when you’re getting your grant proposal or other fundraisers together (we require 30 days notice). We want to know your materials are legally acceptable, and grantors will almost always need some paperwork from us before you turn in proposals.

Sponsorships can remain active so long as a member is current with an annual renewal, and can be terminated by the project at any time. (If, for example, a sponsored project obtains their own federal tax exempt status, the project would no longer need a fiscal sponsor.) If Fresh Arts decides to end a contract for any reason, we must give the project 30 days notice.
Grants and donations MUST be made out to or processed by a fiscal sponsor organization to be tax deductible. Send checks, with your project name in the memo, to Fresh Arts for deposit. We will deposit your funds and hold them for you in a separate checking account. To get those funds back from us, fill out a disbursement request form online (attaching valid receipts and/or invoices), and we will send you a check. We process deposits and cut checks once every 2 weeks - the checks are then mailed to the project manager.
Yes. Checks from individual donors, like grants, must be made out to Fresh Arts in order for them to be tax deductible. Make sure donors write the name of your project in the memo line so we don’t mistake the donation as ours instead. We cannot accept checks that are made out to your organization, and we cannot accept donations from someone else through you (i.e., if you were to deposit a donation check into your own account and then write Fresh Arts a check for the same amount).
Yes, through the Fresh Arts website. Remember, Fresh Arts takes a 7% admin fee on all donations made. Additionally, any credit card processing fees (typically between 2-3%) are passed to the project.
Don’t give up. Not receiving funding doesn’t affect your contract with us. Check out our workshop schedule for grant writing classes or schedule a consultation if you could use more help with your fundraising strategies – and let us know when you’re prepared to start your next proposal.

Be aware of your deadlines. Many of our sponsored projects apply for the same grants, so our plate gets filled up fast for popular deadlines.

Make sure your donors make checks out to Fresh Arts and not to your organization, and write your project’s name in the memo field.

Keep track of your records. That means: hold on to all your receipts and invoices and keep your project’s budget current.

Communicate!! Keep Fresh Arts aware of what’s going on. If you’re exploring new funding, making changes, or have new projects coming up, let us know. We’re here to help you.