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NYWIFT Fiscal Sponsorship Program: Financing Films & Doing Good
by April Hattori, NYWIFT member

When NYWIFT member Rachel Libert was looking for a way to finance her documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful, she read about NYWIFT’s fiscal sponsorship program and knew she had found a solution.

“NYWIFT has a very user-friendly program and that was attractive to us,” Libert says. “When you are busy, it's hard to deal with a lot of red tape, and I appreciate that NYWIFT makes things simple for the filmmaker.”

Semper Fi, a shortlisted 2011 Oscar documentary that chronicles a Marine's fight to expose one of the largest water contamination incidents in U.S. history, aligns with NYWIFT’s criteria that its fiscally sponsored films have a creative, an educational or a charitable purpose.

Libert’s decision to use the NYWIFT program to complete her film funding paid off: approximately 40% of Semper Fi was financed through the program.

In place for six years, NYWIFT's fiscal sponsorship program, open to NYWIFT members only, allows filmmakers to access foundation and government grant funding that may only be accessible to nonprofits or fiscally sponsored projects. Libert says that benefit opened doors to funding for her film. The program provides an incentive to donors too. That's because donations to fiscally sponsored projects are considered charitable deductions.

Since its inception, 60 artists, including Libert, have benefited from participation in the program. Most films in the program have budgets between $50,000 and $500,000.

“Out of all of the programs that NYWIFT offers, I have a special fondness for the fiscal sponsorship program because it brings important films that may not otherwise be told to the screen,” says NYWIFT’s Executive Director Terry Lawler.

The program does not fund film projects. Instead, NYWIFT acts as a nonprofit umbrella organization for filmmakers and video-makers who are seeking to raise funds and require nonprofit status to do so. Funds raised by project directors are directed to NYWIFT, which administers and disburses those funds back to project directors.

Recently, the NYWIFT fiscal sponsorship program partnered with the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to provide filmmakers another way to support their fundraising efforts.

“It’s a great benefit for our members,” says Lawler. “Indiegogo lends credibility to a film project for potential funders and on top of that provides them with a tax-deductible donation.”

The NYWIFT/Indiegogo fee is 7% (same as the regular fiscal sponsorship fee), whether filmmakers reach their goal or not. In addition, NYWIFT helps promote their campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and nywift.org.

Libert recommends NYWIFT’s fiscal sponsorship program to other filmmakers.

“When you work with a fiscal sponsor a percentage of your grant is given to the sponsor,” she says. “We were happy to be able to give back to NYWIFT in this way and support the great work that they do.” 

Learn more about NYWIFT’s fiscal sponsorship program and Indiegogo partnership at nywift.org/fiscalsponsor.

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts