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Fiscal Sponsorship

Let INN be your news organization’s fiscal sponsorship while you start up or convert to nonprofit status

A fiscal sponsor is an established 501(c)(3)-certified organization that accepts funds on behalf of the sponsored program and ensures the funds are spent to advance the program’s mission. This allows new nonprofits to receive tax-deductible donations while they are ramping up their operations or awaiting IRS charity status.

INN offers fiscal sponsorships to qualifying news organizations that apply for membership, and keeps fees as low as possible to support the nonprofit news industry’s growth and to ensure the sponsored organizations’ editorial independence. INN gives news organizations an independent sponsor so they can avoid any perceived conflict of interest, as could arise if they sought a community-based sponsor.

In the case of established companies converting to nonprofit status, INN can provide short-term fiscal sponsorship.

In particular, fiscal sponsorship serves three main groups:

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.

Startup organizations

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.

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.

  • 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.

We’re news people. Services are tailored to news media and rooted in INN’s mission of supporting nonprofit newsrooms. The program is flexible and does not interfere with your relationships with employees, vendors or donors. INN follows best practices for fiscal sponsorship and is a member of the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors. There are many options for fiscal sponsorship, and members are not obligated to use our program.

Rates: $500 setup cost to cover bookkeeping and banking enrollment, monthly administrative fees based on revenue, plus occasional additional fees

Download our Fiscal Sponsorship Program Manual for details on how it works.

To apply for fiscal sponsorship, your organization must be eligible for INN membership. Applications for new membership and fiscal sponsorship may be considered in tandem.

  • To begin the application for membership, please begin here.
  • To apply for fiscal sponsorship please begin here.

Don’t just take it from us. 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. Hear from a few of our members who we have fiscally sponsored in the past.

More questions? Meet the INN staff member who can help.

Chip Potts

As our director of finance and operations, Chip supports the growth and financial success of the INN membership network by overseeing INN’s fiscal sponsorship program, expanding the portfolio of business services as well as supports INN’s staff to help their work to the benefit of INN members.

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