What is fiscal sponsorship?

Fiscal sponsorship allows individual artists or production companies to solicit charitable donations for a specific project under the umbrella of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Many foundations and government agencies require that you have a fiscal sponsor to be eligible for grants. As your fiscal sponsor, SDF becomes the nonprofit tax-exempt organization that allows you to receive contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies that may not otherwise be available to you. Cash donations received on behalf of your project are tax-deductible for the donor. SDF consults regularly with our sponsored projects regarding fundraising, but our staff does not do grantwriting, crowdfunding, or other types of fundraising for you. Although SDF does award 3–4 modest filmmaking grants each fall, we do not fund all our sponsored projects.

Does SDF grant money to documentary projects?

Yes. With generous support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, SDF provides small grants to films made in or about North Carolina. SDF filmmaking grants range from $1,000 to $5,000. Click here for more information.

I am pursuing a degree in film at a college/university/film school. Will you help me complete my project?

SDF does not support student films.

At what stage of production can I apply for fiscal sponsorship?

You can apply for fiscal sponsorship with SDF at any phase: pre-production, production, or post-production. Filmmakers have also used SDF as a sponsor for distribution grants or to accept donations to do outreach and related community engagement projects.

I don’t live in the South. Can I still work with SDF?

SDF sponsors projects by filmmakers who are living in the South, and/or filmmakers living anywhere in the country or around the world who are telling stories about or related to the American South. You do not need to live in a southern U.S. state to apply for fiscal sponsorship with SDF, but your project must be related to our mission to tell stories about the American South.

Do you sponsor experimental projects, interactive projects, shorts, or hybrids?

Yes, as long as your project is non-fiction focused. We also sponsor audio, photography, and multimedia projects along with short and feature-length documentary films. If you are not sure if your project fits our criteria, feel free to write to us before applying.

When does SDF accept applications for fiscal sponsorship?

SDF accepts applications on a quarterly basis. Deadlines are January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15. Click here for more information.

Can you review my application between deadlines?

Yes. If you have an immediate need for a fiscal sponsor we can review projects out of cycle. Please email us at info@southerndocumentaryfund.org to see if your project qualifies.

Where do I send my application materials?

We accept applications via Submittable.com during four submission cycles throughout the year. Deadlines are January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15; immediately following each deadline the new submission cycle begins. Applications must be submitted by midnight on the deadline date. All application must be submitted electronically and follow the guidelines here.

I’ve submitted my application for fiscal sponsorship. When will I hear something?

The New Projects Panel meets shortly after the deadline and all applicants will be notified via email within 2–3 weeks following the deadline.

My proposal was rejected. Do you offer feedback or advice on my proposal?

Yes. If you’d like feedback, please email info@southerndocumentaryfund.org to request a phone consultation with a member of our New Projects Panel.

If my proposal is denied, can I resubmit it at a later date?

Filmmakers who are denied can resubmit if the Panel offers you the opportunity.