Fiscal Sponsorship

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.

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”, seeking project directors and team leaders that evidence a connection to the stories they tell.  If a PD makes work about a community that he/she/they has no direct connection to, SDF requires that the PD seeks partnerships with a member(s) from that community in the documentary process. At SDF, we expect PD’s to seek accountability to those whose stories they share.


Artists are invited to apply to SDF for fiscal sponsorship on a quarterly basis—deadlines are January 15th, April 15th, July 15th (extended to July 20th) 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

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

Vivian Bowman-Edwards

Allison Inman
Eric Johnson
Devon Smith
Naomi Walker
Gabrielle Etienne

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