Unleash Your Church’s Potential with Nonprofit Fiscal Sponsorship

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In today’s competitive world, churches and religious organizations must find innovative ways to support their missions and community outreach.

One such strategy is nonprofit fiscal sponsorship. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of fiscal sponsorship, its benefits for churches, and how to set up a fiscally sponsored project.

Fiscal sponsorship is a contractual arrangement between a nonprofit organization (the “fiscal sponsor”) and a project, initiative, or group that lacks formal nonprofit status (the “sponsored project”).

The fiscal sponsor provides administrative, financial, and legal support to the project, enabling it to receive tax-deductible donations and grants without establishing its nonprofit corporation.

Types of Fiscal Sponsorship

There are three main types of fiscal sponsorship commonly used by churches and religious organizations:

  1. Direct project: The sponsored project becomes a part of the fiscal sponsor’s organization, with the sponsor taking full legal and financial responsibility for the project.
  2. Pre-approved grant relationship: The sponsored project remains independent, but the fiscal sponsor serves as a grantor, disbursing funds to the project as grants.
  3. Group exemption: The sponsored project becomes a subordinate organization under the fiscal sponsor’s group tax exemption, allowing it to operate as a tax-exempt entity.

Also read: Fiscal Sponsorship for Churches: A Comprehensive Guide

Benefits of Fiscal Sponsorship for Churches

Fiscal sponsorship offers numerous benefits for churches, including:

  1. Legal and financial support:

Fiscal sponsors provide essential services such as bookkeeping, financial reporting, and legal compliance, ensuring that the sponsored project operates within the law and adheres to best practices and adheres to best practices. This support enables churches to focus on their mission and outreach efforts without getting bogged down in administrative tasks.

  1. Increased credibility and fundraising capacity

Being associated with an established fiscal sponsor can enhance the credibility of the sponsored project in the eyes of donors, grantmakers, and the community. This increased trust can lead to more funding opportunities and a greater likelihood of securing grants.

  1. Time and resource savings

Setting up and managing an independent nonprofit organization can be time-consuming and expensive. Fiscal sponsorship allows churches to bypass this process and instead allocate their resources to mission-driven activities.

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Also read: Unlocking the Potential of Fiscal Sponsorship for Churches in Kenya.

Largest Fiscal Sponsors for Churches

Several well-known organizations serve as fiscal sponsors for churches and religious initiatives. Some of the largest fiscal sponsors include:

  1. Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarships

This organization offers fiscal sponsorship services to nonprofit organizations in Kenya and other countries outside the USA, including churches.

  1. Christian Ministry Alliance

Christian Ministry Alliance is a progressive organization providing fiscal sponsorship to various social and environmental initiatives, including faith-based projects in Africa (including Kenya) and Asia.

  1. Fiscal Sponsor Directory: 

This online directory is valuable for finding potential fiscal sponsors that match your church’s mission and values.

Setting Up a Fiscally Sponsored Project

To set up a fiscally sponsored project, follow these steps:

  1. Finding the right fiscal sponsor: Research potential fiscal sponsors that align with your church’s mission and values. Use resources like the Fiscal Sponsor Directory and word-of-mouth recommendations from other churches.
  2. Drafting a formal agreement: Once you’ve selected a fiscal sponsor, draft a formal agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities of both parties. This agreement should cover financial management, legal compliance, reporting, and communication.
  3. Establishing a project budget: Develop a comprehensive budget for your sponsored project, including anticipated expenses and revenue sources.

Role of the Fiscal Sponsor

The fiscal sponsor plays a critical role in the success of the sponsored project. Their responsibilities typically include:

  1. Financial management: The sponsor manages the sponsored project’s finances, including maintaining separate accounts, tracking expenses, and providing regular financial reports.
  2. Legal compliance: The sponsor ensures that the project adheres to relevant laws and regulations, such as tax-exempt status requirements and fundraising rules.
  3. Grant and donor relations: The sponsor often assists with grant applications, donor management, and acknowledgments, helping to build strong relationships with funders and supporters.

The Fiscally Sponsored Project’s Responsibilities

In turn, the sponsored project has its own set of responsibilities:

  1. Adhering to the fiscal sponsor’s policies: The project must follow the sponsor’s guidelines and procedures, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  2. Reporting and communication: The project should maintain open lines of communication with the sponsor, providing regular updates on activities, progress, and challenges.
  3. Fundraising and marketing efforts: The project is responsible for its own fundraising and marketing activities, leveraging the support and credibility of the fiscal sponsor to attract donors and supporters.

Managing the Relationship with Your Fiscal Sponsor

A successful fiscal sponsorship relationship requires ongoing communication and collaboration. Here are some tips for managing the relationship:

  1. Regular communication: Schedule regular check-ins with your fiscal sponsor to discuss progress, challenges, and any changes to the project.
  2. Conflict resolution: Address disagreements or concerns promptly and openly, working together to find mutually beneficial solutions.
  3. Evaluating the partnership: Periodically assess the effectiveness of the fiscal sponsorship arrangement, making adjustments as needed to ensure the partnership remains productive and beneficial for both parties.

Also, read: Find a Fiscal Sponsor: Boost Your Church’s Growth & Community Impact

Transitioning Out of Fiscal Sponsorship

There may come a time when the sponsored project is ready to transition out of fiscal sponsorship. This can happen for several reasons, such as:

  1. Achieving independent nonprofit status: The sponsored project may apply for its own tax-exempt status and become independent.
  2. Merging with another organization: The project might find it advantageous to merge with another organization that shares its mission and values.
  3. Dissolving the project: In some cases, the project may have reached its natural conclusion, or its goals may no longer be feasible, prompting a decision to dissolve the project.

In any of these scenarios, it’s crucial to have a clear plan in place for the transition, ensuring a smooth handover of responsibilities and continuity of operations.

Biblical Support for Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal sponsorship aligns with biblical principles emphasizing stewardship, collaboration, and partnership. Here are some relevant passages from the NIV translation:

  1. Stewardship: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV)
  2. Collaboration: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls, one can help the other up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV)
  3. Partnership: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

These verses underscore the value of working together to achieve common goals and support one another in need.

Conclusion

Nonprofit fiscal sponsorship offers a practical and efficient solution for churches seeking to expand their mission and outreach efforts. 

By partnering with a trusted fiscal sponsor, churches can leverage the sponsor’s expertise, resources, and credibility to enhance their fundraising capacity and make a greater impact on their communities. If you’re considering fiscal sponsorship for your church, don’t hesitate to contact africads for expert guidance and support.

FAQs

What is nonprofit fiscal sponsorship?

  1. Nonprofit fiscal sponsorship is a contractual arrangement between a nonprofit organization (the “fiscal sponsor”) and a project, initiative, or group that lacks formal nonprofit status (the “sponsored project”). The fiscal sponsor provides administrative, financial, and legal support to the project, allowing it to receive tax-deductible donations and grants without establishing its nonprofit corporation.

What are the benefits of fiscal sponsorship for churches?

  1. Fiscal sponsorship offers numerous benefits for churches, including legal and financial support, increased credibility and fundraising capacity, and time and resource savings.

How do I find a fiscal sponsor for my church?

  1. You can find potential fiscal sponsors through resources like the Fiscal Sponsor Directory, the National Council of Nonprofits, or recommendations from other churches.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored project?

  1. The fiscal sponsor is responsible for financial management, legal compliance, and grant and donor relations. In contrast, the sponsored project is responsible for adhering to the sponsor’s policies, reporting and communication, and fundraising and marketing efforts.

How can I ensure a successful partnership with my fiscal sponsor?

  1. To ensure a successful partnership, maintain regular communication, address conflicts promptly, and evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership periodically, making adjustments as needed to maintain a productive and beneficial relationship.

What are some biblical principles that support fiscal sponsorship?

  1. Fiscal sponsorship aligns with biblical principles such as stewardship (1 Peter 4:10), collaboration (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10), and partnership (Proverbs 27:17), emphasizing the value of working together to achieve common goals and support one another in times of need.

When should a project transition out of fiscal sponsorship?

  1. A project may transition out of fiscal sponsorship when it achieves independent nonprofit status, merges with another organization, or decides to dissolve the project due to changing circumstances or goals.

What steps should be taken when transitioning out of fiscal sponsorship?

  1. To ensure a smooth transition, create a clear plan outlining the responsibilities handover and operations continuity. This plan should be developed with the fiscal sponsor and relevant stakeholders.

Can a church have more than one fiscal sponsor?

  1. It’s generally not recommended for a church to have more than one fiscal sponsor, as it can lead to confusion, duplicated efforts, and potential conflicts of interest. However, if necessary, a church may have different fiscal sponsors for separate projects or initiatives.

How do I ensure that my church’s sponsored project complies with tax-exempt status requirements?

  1. Your fiscal sponsor is responsible for ensuring compliance with tax-exempt status requirements. However, it’s essential for the sponsored project to adhere to the sponsor’s policies and procedures, maintain open communication, and provide regular updates on activities and progress to help ensure compliance.

Author

  • Michael Kimanzi

    I'm Michael Kimanzi, founder of Africads Consultants, a digital marketing agency empowering churches to thrive online. We specialize in Google Ads Grant Management, website and app design, content creation, and SEO services. Our mission is to help churches and nonprofits connect with more people and raise funds online. Let's amplify your church's message together. Book a free session now.

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