Fiscal Sponsorship

How to Apply

STEP 1: Become a Member today! Fiscal Sponsorship is one of the wonderful benefits of being a member. Basic memberships start at $60/year. Click here to register online.

STEP 2: Send us a short proposal about your project. See below for details.

  • There is no application form for applying to Media Arts Center San Diego for sponsorship. Instead, the Selection Committee reviews the basic proposal that an applicant would use, for example, with foundations during the course of fundraising.For those interested, Media Arts Center San Diego staff and Board can also provide technical assistance for proposal development.The process begins when you submit to Media Arts Center San Diego a draft proposal with a complete budget. Resumes or film/videographies of principal production staff should be attached.
  • A member of the Media Arts Center San Diego staff will then critique your proposal and offer suggestions. After staff review, you’re asked to submit three copies of the final proposal and budget, at least one week before the Selection Committee meets.
  • Your proposal must give both a description of the project, and your work plan for accomplishing the project. While Media Arts Center San Diego has no formula for a proposal, the following elements are suggested in anticipation of questions from both the Selection Committee and potential funders of the project (the format below is recommended for all proposals):
    1. Title Page, with a brief (one or two sentences) description of the project, including length and format, and identifying the project director(s) and how to contact.
    2. Introduction/Background (if necessary and appropriate), to provide information about the subject matter addressed in the film/ video.
    3. Project Description, to describe the film/video as specifically Ð and visually Ð as possible, and explain the approach to the subject, the style, and how the material will be organized.
    4. Audience and Distribution Strategy, to characterize the intended audience for the project, and outlining the method for reaching the audience.
    5. Fundraising Plan, including the total costs of the project (and, if applicable, the amount raised or committed to date in the form of contributions, in-kind donations of services or equipment, waived fees etc.) and the fundraising goal, with a discussion of the strategy and sources for raising funds.
    6. Project Status and Completion Timeline, outlining what has been accomplished to date, and the stages and approximate lengths of time for each stage leading to completion.
    7. Key Personnel, with a paragraph about each of the project’s principal production staff (attach resumes or film/videographies for each).
  • The budget may be arranged either chronologically (pre- production, production, and post-production; and, if appropriate, distribution) or by key areas of expense (e.g. salaries, fees, supplies, equipment rentals, travel, services, office, etc.). In either case, the budget breakdown should include unit pricing, as well as grand totals. It should list expenditures already made on the project, and itemize in-kind contributions whether previously made or anticipated. In most cases, the budget should be no longer than four pages.
  • The selection Committee will make its decision on your written proposal, your sample work, and an interview with you. If the committee determines that Media Arts Center San Diego will sponsor your project, you will be asked to sign a sponsorship agreement (samples are available).

NOTE: Accepted projects will be able to use Media Arts Center San Diego as a fiscal agent on a case-by-case basis to particular funders. Media Arts Center San Diego reserves the right to refuse to act as fiscal agent to funders where an application would conflict with Media Arts Center San Diego’s own fund raising activities.


  • If you are Media Arts Center San Diego member working on a noncommercial film or video project, you may apply to Media Arts Center San Diego for a fiscal sponsorship of your project.
  • Media Arts Center San Diego charges an administrative fee of eight percent (8%) for any monies granted through it to sponsored projects. Note: a higher % (up to 10%) will be taken out if the project uses MEDIA ARTS’ on line donation forms (i.e. this covers credit card fees, service fees, etc..).
  • Your project must be noncommercial in nature. You must be seeking funds in the form of grants from public agencies, foundations, or corporations, or from individual donors, including donations from fundraising benefits.
  • You must demonstrate a strong commitment to and personal involvement in your project.
  • You must present a clearly written and well-defined proposal, and realistic budget (see “How to Apply”).
    You must show competence in the film/videomaking medium through screening an example of your work (if you’re a beginning film/videomaker, you may show a sample by other principal members of your crew).
  • All decisions regarding Media Arts Center San Diego’s acceptance of a project for sponsorship are made by a Selection Committee.
  • The Selection Committee reviews all proposals submitted to it following staff review, screens up to 10 minutes of applicants’ sample work(s) if available, reserves the option to request an interview with each applicant individually (sample work is recommended).
  • Meetings of the Selection Committee are not scheduled at regular intervals, but are held when proposals are submitted and after the staff has reviewed them. The projects under consideration by the committee are not in competition with each other.
  • If your project is approved by the committee, you must agree to:
    1. Keep track of all expenses connected with the project;
    2. Complete and return a project status report to Media Arts Center San Diego every sixth months (mandatory);
    3. Spend funds administered to you by Media Arts Center San Diego only for the project and in accordance with the budget approved by Media Arts Center San Diego;
    4. Comply with restrictions and requirements imposed on Media Arts Center San Diego by donors, and with government requirements regarding information returns;
    5. Provide a copy of any applications submitted under Media Arts Center San Diego’s fiscal sponsorship program two weeks in advance of the deadline for review by the Media Arts Center San Diego staff;
    6. Give advance notice of all potential funders for your project in order to avoid possible conflict of interest with Media Arts Center San Diego funders; and,
    7. Provide one copy of your completed project for our archives, and to list in your credits using wording similar to the following: “Our thanks to Media Arts Center San Diego for acting as fiscal sponsor on this project.”

Why Apply?

In the simplest terms, Fiscal Sponsorship is one entity accepting and handling funds for another entity (e.g. an independent filmmaker). Fiscal Sponsorship is used primarily when one entity is unable to secure funds, particularly from foundations or government entities, which fund only nonprofit organizations with IRS tax-exempt status, To be considered “exempt,” an organization must hold a current 501(c)3 certificate of exempt status from the IRS.

An individual may find that he/she cannot apply for funds from certain sources due to rules requiring that funds be distributed only to nonprofit organizations. That individual may decide to seek the services of a Fiscal Sponsor, which has a tax-exempt ruling form the IRS and can accept funds from such sources.

After an agreement has been reached between the individual and the fiscal sponsor, it is the responsibility of the Fiscal Sponsor to redistribute funds as necessary. The sponsor will then keep a separate ledger for all funds accepted for the individual’s project, and make records of such transactions available to those who might require it. This is typically done in the form of account status reports, and other disclosure required by guidelines or law.

The organization acting as a fiscal sponsor usually requires a fee for its efforts, normally a small percentage of funds accepted through the sponsor.

Advantages of working with a fiscal sponsor are that it allows an individual to solicit funds from entities that cannot fund individuals directly, and that private donations to a nonprofit tax-exempt organization are tax-deductible to the degree allowed by allow. (Of course, this is dependent upon current tax laws). All of the above statements come with two overall rules: