How fiscal sponsorship works, in a nutshell

  • Once a program is sponsored by INN, all charitable funding for the program (grants, donations) is made out to INN and is kept in an account for the program.
  • INN collects 7% of incoming revenue as a service fee to cover costs of managing the money, including charity registration, IRS 990 filings and annual audits, as well as two hours each month for bookkeeping services, monthly accounting reports and donor receipt mailings as required by law.
  • Programs pay their own bills by seeking a draw from their available funds held by INN. Requests for disbursal must state the use of the funds, and then sponsored programs must clear each disbursal by providing receipts and showing how it was spent before they can draw added funds.
  • INN sends acknowledgements to donors above the $250 level, making it clear we’re thanking them on behalf of your program. Our goal is to facilitate donations but not get in the way – we want to foster your direct relationship with donors.
  • INN handles federal tax filings and charity registrations for your organization.
  • Sponsored programs are responsible for all corporate registration, state and local tax handling and accounting and all taxes on earned (noncharitable) revenue.
  • Whenever you’re ready to spin off independently, we work to transfer your assets and accounts and get you set up to run successfully on your own.

Questions? Contact INN Director Sue Cross, sue@inn.org, or Membership Coordinator Laura Bertocci, laura@inn.org.

Considerations for various types of programs:

For organizations converting to or spinning off as nonprofits:

INN is one of the few fiscal sponsors that welcomes short-term sponsorships, so we can serve as a “bridge sponsor” for commercial media converting to nonprofit status, setting up nonprofit arms or spinning off from existing nonprofits.

“Thanks to INN's fiscal sponsorship, we were able to begin accepting donations as soon as we announced our switch to nonprofit status. Sue and her team worked closely with our staff to make sure the somewhat complicated process was as easy for us as possible, including helping with accounting tools that we did not previously have. It's a great relationship to have if you're waiting on IRS approval but want to start building a membership and grants program.”Patti Epler, Editor and General Manager, Honolulu Civil Beat

For startups:

Fostering strong nonprofit news startups is a big part of INN’s mission. We do not require minimum levels of committed funding at the outset of sponsorship, as many fiscal sponsorship programs do. There is a $500 fee to cover setup costs, but then programs can meet minimum fees as they go.This allows sponsored programs the time to build their fundraising operation and ramp up.

"We were so busy during our first year at the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism that having the Institute for Nonprofit News agree to fiscally sponsor us was a real godsend. INN made it simple. They accepted donations on our behalf, paid our bills, filed our 1099s and sent us detailed monthly and annual statements. We were able to focus on the many other areas of building the business without worrying whether the money was being properly managed. INN is considered a credible sponsor, which was important in seeking grants and donations. And when we were ready, INN was helpful in advising us how to obtain our own 501(c)(3) IRS designation."Nancy West, Executive Director, New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism

For organizations unsure if they will need short-term or long-term sponsorship:

INN does not have minimum or maximum sponsorship periods. We are flexible and you can figure out how long you need sponsorship as you go. Many organizations seek sponsorship while seeking their own 501(c)3 status, and then may either go independent quickly, or determine it makes sense to operate longer under sponsorship. Some nonprofit financial experts now advise nonprofit startups to stay in sponsorship at least until they reach revenues around the $500,000/year mark. Whenever a sponsored program is ready to go on its own, we work closely to help them start operating as independent 501(c)3 organizations.

Graduates of INN fiscal sponsorship are doing great journalism around the world. We’re proud to have played a part in the successful foundation of news organizations including:

 

Highlands Current

Highlands Current

Rivard Report

Rivard Report

Global Investigative Journalism Network

Global Investigative Journalism Network

New Hampshire Center for Pubic Interest Journalism

New Hampshire Center for Pubic Interest Journalism

sirf

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Investigative Post

Investigative Post

Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Eye on Ohio

Eye on Ohio