Fiscal Sponsorship: Get Under the Umbrella And Get Rained On

Ahh fundraising. The almighty dollar. The word that sends chills down the spine of indie filmmakers across the globe. It can be quite daunting thinking that you will have to actually ask people for money. Its interesting because for every story there are potential audiences who can connenct and want to see the story told on film. Those people may be interested in supporting financially as well. However, often filmmakers (and most young artists who tend to undervalue their work) seem to not have the confidence to ask. Well, the upcoming Kinfolk film “Third Timothy” just got a hookup that makes asking for money an easier pill to swallow. And this hookup is: fiscal sponsorship.

When I tell people we just got fiscal sponsorship, their follow up question is “Awesome, how much [money] is it for?” Let me stop you right there. It doesn’t mean someone is giving us money. In short, fiscal sponsorship is when a non-profit organization lends their non-profit status to groups or individuals who fall in line with their mission. Our fiscal sponsorship is through the organization Fractured Atlas, the largest arts fiscal sponsor in the United States. While they don’t give us money directly, they provide us with resources to assist in our film’s fundraising campaign. The benefits of fiscal sponsorship are rather exciting. We can now apply for grants that require 501 (c)(3) status, and we can give the incentive to individual donors that their generous gift will be tax deductible. Pretty much, grant giving organizations and individuals can sponsor the arts without taking on the role of an investor, and they will be able to subtract this amount from their gross taxable income when Uncle Sam comes knocking. For independent filmmakers this is great because it gives access to more funds.

Another plus is that all the money goes through Fractured Atlas, who provides donors with a receipt for taxes and a more professional and secure infrastructure than if an indie filmmaker was just asking for money depositied directly into his bank account. This instills a certain trust in your donors on several levels. They see that the filmmaker took the time to set up a professional situation, which translates into the perception that the filmmaker is professional, well organized, and has intentions to use the money in the way initially proposed. I’d imagine that very few people want to give to strangers who do not seem professional and serious about their business.  Fractured Atlas provides other cool perks for indie filmmakers as well: You can monitor your funds online in real time, they charge a flat 7% fee, there are no credit card procesing fees, they have numerous online webinars about fundraising strategy, they provide feedback on direct mail donation requests, and much more.

I’m tempted to say that fiscal sponsorship encourages more thoughtful filmmaking as well. Fiscal sponsorship gives acces to grants that require 501 (c)(3) status. These grants often come from organizations who give to art projects that focus on certain social issues. When filmmakers fill out their applications they must express how the film relates to the social issues. I’d imagine this process weeds out the bullshit and helps serious indie films get made. For example, “Third Timothy” touches on issues of child abuse and religious expression, as well as poverty and mental instability. These issues affect many people in the world, and there are groups who want to assist in getting art made about these issues. When filmmakers actually take the time to make films that touch on important subjects, the world becomes a better place… and by better I just mean more interesting.

I just got the email yesterday about “Third Timothy’s” acceptance into Fractured Atlas’ fiscal sponsorship program, but needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited. I will write a blog update on my overall experience with Fractured Atlas when the fundraising campaign is over. As of now I am expecting nothing less than a fruitful partnership, and I encourage other independent filmmakers and artists from all disciplines with concerns about the “F” word to look into fiscal sponsorship and see if it will be a good fit as you look into ways to fund your projects. Stay tuned for more info on the “Third Timothy” fundraising campaign sponsored by Fractured Atlas through Indiegogo.

Julian Walker

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This entry was published on March 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm. It’s filed under Fundraising, Independent Filmmaking, Third Timothy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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