Musician Clarice Magalhães and producer-director Irene Walsh in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Walsh’s documentary LAPA: The Heart of Samba chronicles a community of musicians and composers as their music resurrects a Rio de Janeiro neighborhood.
My first feature-length documentary, LAPA: The Heart of Samba, is a project that I have largely funded myself, with a third of the support coming from friends, family and people interested in Brazilian culture. Now in post-production, the costs for finishing the film are looming. So, I’ve decided to explore other areas of fundraising, like fiscal sponsorship.
What Is Fiscal Sponsorship?
A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit organization that manages tax-deductible contributions between a funding source and an arts project. Basically, many companies and individuals have money that they want to donate to the arts, but in order to get tax deductions for their donations, they must give those funds to a nonprofit 501©(3) organization.
The nonprofit organization receives a small percentage of those funds in exchange for administering the funds and then allocates the rest to the project or artist. Many fiscal sponsors require that you become a member of their organization, and it’s rare you’ll have more than one fiscal sponsor for a project.
Why Have a Fiscal Sponsor?
There are organizations and companies—like Cinereach and The Fledgling Fund—that offer film grants. Without a fiscal sponsor, a filmmaker can’t access many of these resources. So, although a fiscal sponsor generally does not do the legwork of grant-writing or seeking supporters for you, having a fiscal sponsor opens doors to allow funding to reach you, the artist.
Having a fiscal sponsor has also given my friends, family and other supporters the added incentive of a tax deduction. You can learn more about fiscal sponsorship at the Foundation Center’s Grant Space.
Choosing NYWIFT as My Fiscal Sponsor
I looked for fiscal sponsors that support filmmakers and artists in New York City, and whose membership benefits would best support my artistic journey. After a lot of research, I chose New York Women in Film & Television as the fiscal sponsor for my documentary. The resources at NYWIFT stood out to me as smart, varied, and professional.
NYWIFT also offers workshops that provide the kind of information I need while producing my films, such as grant writing, pitching, negotiating film music rights, career coaching, navigating film festival publicity, and maximizing social media. Plus, NYWIFT’s film screenings are great. I can meet the filmmakers and pose questions to industry professionals. I also get to scope out venues for my future screenings!
Other fiscal sponsors that made my short list include Independent Filmmakers Project, Women Make Movies and Fractured Atlas.
Crowdfunding & Fiscal Sponsorship
Right now, I have an Indiegogo campaign through April 27. Since NYWIFT has a partnership with Indiegogo, all contributions to my film through Indiegogo are tax-deductible—an added incentive for contributors.
When we as individual artists can align ourselves with a bigger brand name, it creates confidence for those who want to support us. And there’s a good reason for that: Having accountability to a fiscal sponsor is a responsibility that includes regular reporting and accurate accounting.
Would I seek fiscal sponsorship again? Yes, and as early as possible. I have already been approved by NYWIFT for my second documentary, 13 Minutes Apart.
Editors’ Note: Fiscal sponsorship is just one of the many member benefits that NYWIFT offers. Apply for membership during the Spring Membership Drive through May 5, 2014, and receive 50% off the initiation fee.
NYWIFT is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season! We sat down with new NYWIFT Board Member Kia Brooks who, as Deputy Director of longtime NYWIFT partner The Gotham Film and Media Institute (formerly IFP), is no stranger to the NYWIFT community! Brooks created The Gotham’s Owning It program that supports women and non-binary media makers and entrepreneurs who break boundaries in the media and entertainment industry, and developed the Expanding Communities program, which provides resources, community space, and industry access to individuals with Disabilities and BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ creators.READ MORE
We are thrilled to welcome new NYWIFT member Isi Laborde! Isi is a Brooklyn-based actor (AEA, SAG/AFTRA). Her film roles include Return to Montauk, directed by Academy Award-winner Volker Schlöndorff, and Jay-Z’s music video “Smile,” directed by Grammy-winner Miles Jay. She has had TV appearances in Facebook TV's Strangers and Paramount's Younger. Theater credits include The Bacchae at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club and Skip to My Lou at Theater for the New City. Isi spoke to us about her craft, how she kept up her creativity during COVID, and her dream role!READ MORE
Let’s welcome new NYWIFT member Ekaterina Korshunova! Ekaterina (or Kate for short) attended Moscow’s RUDN University where she graduated with a degree in journalism. Kate currently works as a freelance social media coordinator and producer. She has filmed and produced promotional videos for many local businesses as well as major brands. She spoke to us about her move to the US, her teaching philosophy, and her dreams for the future.READ MORE
Welcome, new NYWIFT member Ching Juhl! Ching is a Chinese American filmmaker, video journalist, and music educator who has directed, filmed, edited, and produced three feature films, promotional videos, and hundreds of shorts. Her feature documentary My Yang Gang Diary, which she shot entirely on an iPhone 11, won Best Feature Film Award at Toronto Documentary Film Festival in 2021. Ching spoke to us about the benefits of shooting on iPhone, the intersection of music and filmmaking, and the friends who brought her to NYWIFT.READ MORE