Here are 9 organizations that will fiscally sponsor news businesses

As fiscal sponsor demand grows, we’ve rounded up options so you can find the best fit for your business

May 6, 2024 by LION Publishers

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Photo by VladSt on iStock

The demand for fiscal sponsors across the nonprofit industry has surged since 2020, according to a Social Impact Commons/National Network of Fiscal Sponsors report cited by Philanthropy Today. At LION, we’re increasingly fielding questions about fiscal sponsorship — how it works and who will fiscally sponsor news organizations.

Fiscal sponsors can help news businesses receive tax-deductible donations from foundations and other philanthropic givers even when those news businesses don’t have a 501(c)3 status. We wrote more here about what to consider when researching whether a fiscal sponsorship is right for your business, and the Pivot Fund shared some more useful tips on finding a fiscal sponsor. Today, we’re sharing a list of options we’ve confirmed fiscally sponsor news businesses. 

This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully serves as a good starting point for researching fiscal sponsor options. You can also check out the Fiscal Sponsor Directory to consider other options that are local to your business.

Got others to recommend? Let us know at [email protected].

1. Tiny News Collective

  • Rate: 5% for LION members, plus an annual service fee rate, which will soon be determined (Note: other rates apply for Tiny News Collective members and clients)
  • Eligibility requirement: TNC offers fiscal sponsorship to publishing and non-publishing projects that are 1) legally formed in the U.S. or a U.S. territory and 2) grounded in the charitable purpose of undertaking and supporting local journalism and public information access in a mission-oriented manner. Potential fiscal sponsees are required to submit an application via this form. Staff review applications and then make recommendations to the TNC leadership and board. Upon approval by leadership and a majority vote on the TNC Board of Directors, the applicant will be offered a fiscal sponsorship agreement.
  • Types of organizations served: TNC offers fiscal sponsorship to a broad range of journalism and news media projects and programs, including those producing journalism and those supporting the journalism, news, and civic media ecosystem across the U.S. Many TNC clients are pre-launch and early-stage startups with a sole founder or small organizations with a city or county-wide coverage area.
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship: TNC offers Model C Fiscal Sponsorship and specific technical assistance for applying for grants and contributions from private foundations, public charities, and individual donors.
  • Additional information: Please contact TNC’s finance manager with any inquiries. 

2. Alternative Newsweekly Foundation

  • Rate: 7%–10%, plus transaction and banking fees, and other possible expenses. Sliding scale is based on project. Rates are negotiable.
  • Eligibility criteria: ANF supports high-quality, independent, fact-checked journalism and media that is aligned with ANF’s mission and values.
  • Types of organizations served: Local and national newsrooms and investigative journalism outlets, and the activities that support them.
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship
    • Bookkeeping  
    • Crowdfunding platform and support  
    • Grant research and application support  
    • Organizational development
    • Receiving stock and other noncash donations
    • Additional services as needed
  • Learn more: Fiscal Sponsorship Models; contact Executive Director Ellen Meany at [email protected] 
  • Additional information: ANF offers Model A (Direct Project); Model C (Preapproved Grant Relationship); and Model D (Group Exemption)

3. Players Philanthropy Fund

  • Rate: 6%, plus a $600 annual technology fee (additional fees are detailed here)
  • Eligibility criteria: Minimum $25,000 annual budget 
  • Types of organizations served: Arts and culture; children, youth, and families; disaster relief; drug treatment; and many more listed here
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship (more detail here):
    • Accounting
    • Insurance
    • Security
    • Charitable status and IRS compliance
    • Legal
    • Customer service and best practice philanthropy
    • Grant application support
    • Event support
    • Technology
    • White-label service (For example, donors can make their checks payable to your foundation name, as opposed to the fiscal sponsorship’s name)
  • Learn more: Fiscal Sponsorship Overview and Fiscal Sponsorship Application
  • Additional information: PPF offers Model A (Direct Project) and Model C (Preapproved Grant Relationship)

4. Journalism Funding Partners

  • Rate: 7%
  • Eligibility criteria: Funds must be raised for a specific newsroom need, such as an education beat, environmental coverage, an investigative desk, etc., that is additive to what already is being done by the news organization, and not for business- or operations-facing expenses. 
  • Types of organizations served: Only news organizations, from small weeklies to the Associated Press
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship: JFP serves funders by making sure the funds are spent on desired journalistic areas they support, and also by making sure the news organizations provide progress updates of coverage, impact, and reach. If JFP learns that the news organization is not meeting grant specifics — such as “deciding” to furlough the funded position without pay for two weeks as part of a company-wide mandate, JFP claws back that money from the news organization so the funding can go to another newsroom to fulfill the funder’s needs. JFP serves news organizations by keeping funders far from anything that would endanger independent editorial integrity. This includes the job description, hiring, and oversight of funded positions. Funders do not talk directly to news organizations unless it is through JFP. In cases of general or targeted fundraising (with individuals or local foundations), JFP is regularly part of that conversation to bring credibility to the effort. 
  • Learn more: 
  • Additional information: JFP says it’s grown the amount of funding by 50 percent year over year for the past three years.

5. Community Partners

  • Rate: 9% of project revenues from private sources, and 15% of project revenues from public sources
  • Eligibility criteria:
    • Charitable intent
    • Able and committed leadership
    • Potential for significant community impact
    • Has an advisory group
    • Strong prospects for growth and financial sustainability
    • Other: We look for a fit between the project leadership’s experience and ability to mobilize resources, the project concept, and Community Partners’ mission. We do not sponsor commercial or profit-making ventures, one-time-only events, and film or video projects unless they are integral to a larger direct-service program. See our website for criteria for religious projects.
  • Types of organizations served: Arts and culture; children, youth, and families; economic development; and more
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship:
    • Community Partners offers Model A and Model C fiscal sponsorship.
      • Services offered under Model A:
        • Auditing
        • Bill paying
        • Bookkeeping/accounting
        • Human resource management
        • Insurance
        • Organizational development
        • Tax reporting
        • Other: human resources services, programmatic services, and communications services
      • Services offered under Model C:
        • Donation processing
        • Grants management
        • Bookkeeping/accounting
        • Auditing
        • IRS 990 tax filing
        • Guidance and networking
  • Learn more: How to apply
  • Additional information: N/A

6. Local Media Association

  • Rate: 7% of funds raised
  • Eligibility criteria: LMA serves as a fiscal sponsor for select journalism projects that demonstrate genuine charitable or educational intent, committed leadership, and potential for significant community impact.
  • Types of organizations served: Sponsored projects often focus on enterprise or investigative reporting on critical community issues such as social justice, poverty, the unhoused, education, or health inequities.
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship:
    • The ability to solicit and receive tax-deductible donations and grants.  
    • The ability to process credit card or check donations, stock transfers, and corporate matching gifts. 
    • Use of the Givebutter platform for crowdsourced donations. 
    • Use of LMA’s registered charitable status in most states, allowing projects to accept donations from across the U.S. 
    • An annual 990 filing with the IRS for all charitable funds raised.
    • An annual financial audit, as mandated by the IRS.
    • Donor-acknowledgment letters for donations over $250.
  • Learn more: LMA Fiscal sponsorship programs and Inquiry Form
  • Additional information: N/A

7. The Lenfest Institute for Journalism

  • Rate: For each discrete contribution, the sponsor shall retain the greater of (a) 5% of the contribution amount or (b) $500. Lenfest doesn’t have the capacity to process small retail donor campaigns and encourages sponsored companies to take those funds directly. On rare occasions, it will be flexible with charges.
  • Eligibility criteria: Lenfest focuses on organizations aligned with its mission and who are generally on their way toward nonprofit status and seeking large grants from foundations.
  • Types of organizations served: News organizations or companies supporting local news organizations
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship: Lenfest works with donors to process their contributions, assist with donor reporting and other donor requirements, and make grants to sponsored companies that comply with IRS requirements for Expenditure Responsibility. If the sponsored company receives its IRS letter and achieves nonprofit status, Lenfest gifts the remaining funds to the company.
  • Learn more: Fiscal Sponsorships; contact Operations Manager Charles Jun at [email protected]  
  • Additional information: Lenfest can sponsor a couple of companies at a time using a Model C fiscal sponsorship approach. It does not have the capacity to handle membership campaigns.

8. Association of Independents in Radio

  • Rate: An active AIR membership ($100) is required for the Fiscal Sponsorship program.
  • Eligibility criteria
    • Aligned mission values
    • Minimum budget: AIR typically requires projects to have a budget of at least $10,000.
  • Types of organizations served: Arts and culture: Independent audio producers, projects, podcasters
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship:
    • Auditing
    • Bookkeeping/accounting
    • Organizational development
    • Receiving property and stock donations
    • Tax reporting
    • Other: AIR fiscal sponsorship offers numerous services to a project, including administrative support, web presence, accounting, grant/donor management, and project guidance.
  • Learn more: Contact AIR’s Fiscal Sponsorship Administrator at [email protected]
  • Additional information: Once you’ve become an AIR member, you can learn more about its fiscal sponsorship offerings on this page. AIR offers Model A (Direct Project) and Model C (Preapproved Grant Relationship) models

9. MuckRock

  • Rate: 10%
  • Eligibility criteria: We work with newsrooms and reporting projects that have an explicit editorial mission that aligns with MuckRock’s mission to improve transparency and access to information and insight into the workings of government.
  • Types of organizations served: We typically work with new projects that are still figuring out their basic infrastructure. Current sponsored projects range from a brand-new project with two part-time staffers to an established three-year-old newsroom with a dozen staff.
  • Services provided as part of fiscal sponsorship: We currently offer primarily Model A fiscal sponsorship. All of your employees must be MuckRock employees, and we provide payroll management and basic accounting services. Note that the actual cost of salaries and benefits is not included in the fiscal sponsorship fee.
  • Learn more: Contact Amanda Hickman at [email protected] with a description of your work, and we can work with you to assess whether or not you’re a fit for our fiscal sponsorship program.

Two other organizations that offer fiscal sponsorship but whom we couldn’t confirm these same details with are the Institute for Nonprofit News and City Bureau.

Got other fiscal sponsors you’d add to this list? Let us know at [email protected].

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