The Southern Documentary Fund offers fiscal sponsorship for documentary projects made in or about the American South.  Having a fiscal sponsor allows artists to solicit funds from government agencies, foundations, trusts, individuals, and other philanthropic sources that require IRS nonprofit status in order to contribute to a project. These contributions are then tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. SDF charges a modest 6% administrative fee for any monies contributed to projects through our Fiscal Sponsorship program, plus credit card or other payment processing fees incurred for online donations.

Projects accepted into the fiscal sponsorship program must adhere to SDF’s mission and values.SDF operates within the frameworks of “Nothing About Us Without US”, and all fiscally sponsored projects must reflect this. For example, If a PD makes work about a community that he/she has no direct connection with, SDF requires that the PD seeks partnership with a member(s) from that community. We believe in projects that are able to collaborate and share the power of the stories being told. At SDF, we expect that PD’s hold themselves accountable  for the projects they make, as accountability is a core value at our organization.

Project Directors (PD’s) must submit an application for each project seeking sponsorship (see submission info below). All submissions are reviewed by our New Projects Panel, and accepted or denied based on artistic and editorial merit, project director’s ability to continue fundraising for project and the need for fiscal sponsorship and mentoring services. Sponsored projects range from broadcast-quality feature-length documentaries with budgets close to one million dollars, to relatively modest projects with budgets in the thousands. We sponsor first films by passionate and talented novices, as well as works of mid-career professionals or veterans. In addition to films, SDF is proud of our distinctive collection of sponsored photography and audio projects. The range of subject matters is broad and diverse, including projects about social justice, the environment, history, and the arts.

Projects accepted into the fiscal sponsorship program must adhere to SDF’s mission and values.SDF operates within the frameworks of “Nothing About Us Without US”, and all fiscally sponsored projects must reflect this. For example, If a PD makes work about a community that he/she/they has no direct connection with, SDF requires that the PD seeks partnership with a member(s) from that community. We believe in projects that are able to collaborate and share the power of the stories being told. At SDF, we expect that PD’s hold themselves accountable  for the projects they make, as accountability is a core value at our organization.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

Artists are invited to apply to SDF for fiscal sponsorship on a quarterly basis—deadlines are January 15th, April 15th, July 15th and October 15th. The application fee is $50.  

If you have an urgent need for sponsorship that falls outside our established deadlines, please contact SDF staff for information regarding an out-of-cycle application. The fee for out-of-cycle applications is $75. All applications for sponsorship are accepted through our online form at submittable.com.

Click here to apply.
The required fee must be paid separately through PayPal here.
Download a budget template here.
Criteria for project selection includes:

  • Project Director(s) fundraising throughout duration of being fiscal sponsored.
  • Project Directors adhering to “Nothing About Us Without Us” motto.
  • Feasibility of the project (budget, financing,schedule, and scope).
  • Project should meet the goals of SDF as stated in our mission and values.
  • Well written and well-researched proposals.
  • Potential to reach its intended audience.

New Projects Panel

Chair
Vivian Bowman-Edwards

Panelists
Mikel Barton
Sally Bloom
Jasmine Bowles
Nazanin Knudsen
Courtney Reid-Eaton
Devon Smith
Naomi Walker
Gabrielle E. Woodard-Carter

Deepest thanks to former panelists over the years:
Mark Barroso
Dawn Dreyer
Lana Garland
Sandra Jacobi
Eric Johnson
Michelle Lanier
Eric Martin
Marc Maximov
Jim O’Brien
Bruce Orenstein
Rachel Raney
Diane Robertson
Loren Smith
Nicole Triche
Judy Van Wyk
Monique Velazquez
Tom Whiteside