The Southern Documentary Fund offers fiscal sponsorship for documentary projects made in or about the American South.

Having a fiscal sponsor allows makers 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.


*Applications will reopen August 1, 2021. If you have any questions, email

Artists are invited to apply to SDF for fiscal sponsorship year-round through our online form at The application fee is $25.

The required fee must be paid separately through PayPal link above.

Criteria for project selection includes:

  • Project Director(s) actively fundraising through the duration of fiscal sponsorship.
  • Project Directors connection to subject matter.
  • 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.

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 grant writing, 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.

Yes! Currently, SDF has three grants. Click here for more information.

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.

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. These guidelines vary when applying for grants, please see specific grant guidelines for eligibility requirements.

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.

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

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

We accept applications via 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.

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

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

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