Fiscal Sponsorship FAQ

What is fiscal sponsorship?

A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit organization that extends its tax-exempt status to unincorporated groups or projects engaged in activities related to the fiscal sponsor's mission. Typically, in exchange for a fee, the established nonprofit provides such groups or projects with the benefits of a tax-exempt status, and a range of other financial and administrative services. Projects become part of the larger legal entity, but continue to fund raise and carry out their program strategies while the fiscal sponsor takes care of the administrative aspects of running the organization.

Why choose fiscal sponsorship?

Starting a nonprofit and gaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on your own is expensive and time-consuming, as is developing the administrative, legal, and financial resources necessary to manage your organization. Fiscal sponsorship saves projects time and money by providing tax-exempt status and a shared administrative platform which may include payroll, employee benefits, office space, publicity, insurance, and training services. You can become a project as an interim step before creating your own 501(c)(3) organization, or like some of our projects, you can benefit from the efficiencies and cost savings of our shared platform for an extended period of time. Working under the umbrella of a fiscal sponsor makes sense for projects that are just starting out, choosing to stay small and lean, or working on increasing credibility and visibility to funders.

What is the relationship between the Trust for Conservation Innovation (T4CI) and its projects?

From a legal and financial perspective, projects become part of the fiscal sponsor organization, who is legally and financially responsible for their projects' activities. Trust for Conservation Innovation (T4CI) projects benefit from T4CI's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, but they retain full responsibility for their vision, strategy, identity, program oversight, and fundraising, often through their own advisory boards. Because they are part of T4CI, and not separate legal entities, they are able to receive charitable donations and grants available only to tax-exempt organizations.

Why choose T4CI?

Because T4CI focuses solely on environmental projects, we are just as passionate about environmental sustainability as the visionary leaders we support. Our projects all benefit from being part of a family of organizations working towards similar goals. We are also small enough to offer customized, individual attention and get things started quickly, but large enough to offer a full range of fiscal sponsorship services at a competitive rate.

How do I become a T4CI project?

Once you've reviewed our eligibility checklist, e-mail us at to set up an appointment to talk about your idea. If your project sounds like it's right for T4CI, we'll ask you to fill out an application, which will immediately trigger our review process (no waiting until the next board meeting — we know your time is precious).