Fiscal Sponsorship Program

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Fiscal Sponsorship?

Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack exempt status. This alternative to starting your own nonprofit allows you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations under your sponsor’s exempt status. Since most grant funders give to organizations, not individuals, fiscal sponsorship may help you qualify for more funding opportunities. Thus, you may be able to fund and start your project sooner. Meanwhile, you can work on getting your own nonprofit status if that is your ultimate goal.

  1. Why would I want to designate a fiscal sponsor of my group?                                     

Fiscal sponsorship programs vary between groups. Fiscal sponsors are non-profit organizations, like Friends of the Parks, and can allow you to fast-track your fundraising efforts without going through the lengthy process of attaining a federal EIN and tax-exempt status. If your advisory council is looking to raise funds through grants and other funding opportunities, using a fiscal sponsor will allow these funds to be tax deductible. Moreover, it provides a way for your advisory council or park partner organization to fundraise and accumulate funds in the name of a 501(c)(3) without going through all of the paper work to accomplish getting this task done.

  1. What are the eligibility criteria for groups seeking fiscal sponsorship from Friends of the Parks?

To be eligible for this program, the group must: 1) Demonstrate an aligned mission and values; 2) Represent a park or open space within the city limits of the City of Chicago; 3) Be an advisory group on behalf of a park, forest preserve, harbor, or other green, open space. Friends of the Parks reserves the right to determine eligibility and deny groups if deemed ineligible.

  1. What is the Fiscal Sponsorship fee at Friends of the Parks?

There is an annual, base fee of $125 that is prorated if fiscal sponsorship begins after the New Year. In rare cases, there may be a small “pass-thru” fee for funds received on behalf of park projects; “pass-thru” fees apply to situations where Friends of the Parks has to reissue a check on behalf of a project.

  1. How long does Fiscal Sponsorship by Friends of the Parks last?

Fiscal Sponsorship status is renewed annually by signing a fiscal sponsorship agreement and by and by submitting the annual payment for the new sponsorship year.

  1. What are the Park Advisory Council’s responsibilities in the FOTP program?

Your park advisory council or park group is responsible for receiving and safeguarding your donations and contributions. Your Treasurer should maintain financial records on your contributions and expenditures.  Furthermore:

  • Maintain a record documenting all income/expenses

  • Keep receipts for at least three years following receipt of the contributions, passing this information on to the next treasurer

  • Disburse funds in accordance with the stated contribution purpose

  • Incorporate Friends of the Parks logo on all fundraising materials

  • Complete two fiscal sponsorship reports a year to Friends of the Parks

  1. What type of reporting will be required throughout the year?

Reports are due twice a year: July 31st and January 31st. Reports must be supplemented by an income & expense ledger and a copy of the bank statement. End-of-year reports must include 1099 tax forms if applicable.

  1. Do we have to set up a bank account with a specific bank?

No. Each bank has their own set of procedures for setting up bank accounts and Friends of the Parks will work with you to help make the process go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Do we need to be incorporated or have our own tax ID number?

No, neither. If you would like to work to become incorporated with the State of Illinois, Friends of the Parks can guide you through the process.

  1. What are the steps to acquire Fiscal Sponsorship from Friends of the Parks?

  • An executive board member from the park advisory council or park partner organization should send the following to Friends of the Parks:

  • A completed Friends of the Parks Fiscal Sponsorship application
  • A letter from the Park Supervisor or site manager where the project will take place acknowledging the group and the approving the fundraising project
  • If the Fiscal Sponsorship program manager at Friends of the Parks approves your application, they will send you the agreement for the President of your group to sign.

  • The park group will send the following to Friends of the Parks:

  • The signed agreement
  • The $125 payment
  • Once the signed contract is received, Friends of the Parks will send the advisory council or park group acknowledgement documents.

Contact Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa at or (312) 857-2757 ext. 9 to obtain a Fiscal Sponsorship Application or for questions.