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Fiscal Sponsorship Q&A

Have questions about Fiscal Sponsorship? Start here for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding fiscal sponsorship. If you can’t find the information you need, email us at shahidmanning@msefoundation.org.

  •   What does Fiscal Sponsorship mean?
  •   Does Fiscal Sponsorship provide grants or loans to my project?
  •   At what stage of production can you apply for fiscal sponsorship?
  •   Can I apply for more than one project to the Program?
  •   If I live outside California, can I still benefit from your program?
  •   Do you sponsor experimental projects, shorts, or feature films?
  •   Why does MSEF charge an administrative fee 10%-15% for fiscal sponsorship program?
  •   What do the administration fees cover?
  •   Do I need to keep track of my expenses?
  •   Will MSEF write checks for each of my bills?
  •   Can I use MSEF’s tax exempt status to avoid paying retail sales tax on purchases?
  •   What are my responsibilities to MSEF if I am fiscally sponsored?
  •   Where do I send my application?
  •   When will I hear back on application once I have submitted?
  •   Do you offer feedback on my proposal before or after my submission?
  •   If my proposal is rejected can I resubmit it at a later date?
  •   Will MSEF help distribute my film after it’s completed?

What does fiscal sponsorship mean?

It means that MSEF Movies is the non-profit tax-exempt umbrella organization that is fiscally sponsoring your project. As a result, you are eligible to apply for funding from foundations, corporations and government agencies that require tax-exempt status. Additionally, you are eligible to receive charitable contributions from individuals which are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. It does not mean, however, that we are your producers, fundraisers, or in any way connected to the content or actual production of your project. You maintain the copyright of your film and control your project’s life—from development to distribution.

Does fiscal sponsorship provide grants or loans to my project?

No. Fiscal sponsorship does not award grants or provide loans to your project. MSEF Movies will guide producers to funds, grant, and etc., but through its fiscal sponsorship program will NOT offer any cash grants, loans or advances to projects. However, fiscal sponsorship does allow you to apply for funds that, as an individual, you would be ineligible to receive. In other words, fiscal sponsorship opens up your available sources of funding for your project since many foundations, corporations and government agencies can only award grants to non-profit organizations.

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

You can be a part of fiscally sponsored projects in MSEF Movies fiscal sponsorship program as long as you are in pre-production, production, or post-production. You can also use the fiscal sponsorship for distribution grants or to accept donations to do outreach and related community engagement projects.

Can I apply for more than one project to the fiscal sponsorship program?

Only one application per Project Director can be submitted at a time. If you are accepted into the Program and decide to apply at a later date for sponsorship of another project, you must clearly demonstrate your ability and resources to work on both projects at once, and your prior account must be in good standing.

If I live outside Los Angeles do I still benefit from your program?

Yes, MSEF Movies sponsors projects in the US and abroad; however, MSEF must abide by the guidelines of the grantor. For our international applicants, grantor in the US may NOT support international projects. Again, you do not need to live in the Los Angeles area to apply for Fiscal Sponsorship.

Do you sponsor experimental projects, shorts or feature films?

Absolutely! MSEF realizes that we must support all types to LGBT visual media to reach our corporate goals. MSEF Movies is eager to support filmmakers of LGBT film in all genres and styles. The types of projects that we fiscally sponsor are indicative more of the types of funding available to film/video projects which require fiscal sponsorship than in our preferences in project types.

Why does MSEF charge an administrative fee 10%-15% for fiscal sponsorship program?

As a fiscal sponsor, we are legally responsible for the funds received on behalf of your sponsored project and we must insure that the project uses the funds for non-commercial charitable activities in accordance with the agreed upon terms between the donor and your project, and that the donor reporting requirements are met by the project in a timely fashion. In order to do this, we set up financial and database files to keep track of your project; acknowledge contributions to donors for tax purposes; prepare End-of-the-Year reports; send out 1099’s to your consultants and report on them to the IRS. Our accountants also must audit your files and we must pay them to do that.

What do the administration fees cover?

The fiscal sponsor is 100% responsible for the various reporting burdens set by all grantors for granted funds. Some these organizations will not allow us to simply act as a fiscal conduit. Additionally, we perform an annual audit on your files and preserve your records for three years after your grant period is over, as prescribed by the institutions. Then comply with any other guidelines the grantor requires.

Do I need to keep track of my expenses?

Yes. MSEF Movies is not your project’s bookkeeper. You must keep track of all of your expenses and income. You must also report to MSEF how you spend the contributions your project receives by submitting copies of receipts and invoices.

Will MSEF write checks for each of my bills?

No. We do not write checks for your individual vendors. Checks are only made payable to Project Directors, a production company or another individual. Disbursements are made to one name only per project and you are responsible for paying your vendors and consultants.

Can I use MSEF’s tax exempt status to avoid paying retail sales tax on purchases?

No. We cannot legally lend our tax-exempt status for individual project purchases.

What are my responsibilities to MSEF if I am fiscally sponsored?

You must keep track of all your expenses connected with the project and submit Disbursement Expense Reports to MSEF with copies of receipts and invoices after each disbursement is made to you. You also agree to spend funds administered to you by MSEF in accordance with the budget approved by MSEF and your funder. An annual narrative and financial report has to be filed with MSEF at the end of each year along with payment of $50 annual fee. You must also file reports to your funders in accordance with their guidelines and deadlines. In addition, you must provide all documents required by grantors to MSEF for compliance purposes.

 Where do I send my application?

We accept applications on a regular basis year round.
All application packages should be address as follows:
Millennia Scope Entertainment Foundation Movies
Attn: Fiscal Sponsorship Program
P.O. Box 6218 Los Angeles, C.A. 91601
Please be advised that no faxed or emailed applications will be accepted. Make $50 application fee payment online at www.msefoundation.org hover over SUPPORT click on “Donate!”

When will I hear back on application I have submitted?

All application decisions will be made approximately four weeks after submission. All applicants will be notified either way via email.

Do you offer feedback or advice on my proposal?

Yes. MSEF will give feedback is requested, via email to Executive Director Shahid Manning: shahidmanning@msefoundation.org . However, the Foundation holds the right to reject any application for any reason.

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

Yes. Rejected applications must make requested changes before they resubmit.

Will MSEF Movies help distribute my film after it’s completed?

Maybe. The Distribution application is separate. You must submit your film separately through the Distribution application process. For more information on our distribution service, please refer to Distribution Guidelines on MSEF’s website under “PROGRAMS”.