Fiscal Sponsorship Program

Incubating Community & Environmental Stewardship

Part of the philosophy of the Amador Community Foundation (ACF) is that the most effective and innovative projects are often initiated at the grassroots community level. Many of these projects are too small or too new to have yet secured IRS recognition of their charitable status.

Temporary projects may also be ideal candidates for fiscal sponsorship, because this allows the project to focus on achieving its program objectives rather than the administrative issues and costs inherent in establishing a new corporation and seeking IRS recognition of charitable status.

The Amador Community Foundation, for a nominal fee, provides qualified emerging and transitioning nonprofits with fiscal sponsorship, which includes operating under ACF’s 501(c)(3) umbrella, an existing back-office infrastructure, and the support of nonprofit management expertise.

Why choose fiscal sponsorship?

Fiscal sponsorship provides charitable groups with the legal framework to operate without having to form its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Community Foundation of Amador, A California 501(c)(3) public charity accepts qualified charitable groups into its corporate and legal structure and by doing so accepts legal and fiduciary responsibility for projects’ finances and activities. By providing structure and services, we enable projects to initiate their good works immediately.

Projects, once accepted, become part of the ACF organization. Projects stretch charitable dollars by sharing administrative costs for professional accounting, liability insurance, coaching and technical assistance.

This arrangement allows social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders to focus on the mission of their charitable ventures. Fiscal sponsorship also assures those who have invested in projects that their dollars are being well-managed and accounted for.

Services & Fees

Once accepted, a project becomes part of the Amador Community Foundation, a fully qualified, tax-exempt public charity. ACF shares the benefits of its corporate and tax status with approved projects and agrees to be financially accountable for the projects’ charitable dollars.

In addition to the following services, the Amador Community Foundation offers a nurturing, supportive environment to help project leaders achieve their project’s community service goals.



  • Benefit of ACF’s tax-exempt designation by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Tax filings with the IRS as part of ACF’s return.
  • Registration with the California Secretary of State for Charitable Solicitations.

Financial and Administrative Support

  • Record keeping and reporting of project finances, including cash receipts and disbursements.
  • Monthly balance sheet, income statement and general ledger report.
  • Daily deposits and 48 hour turn around on check requests.
  • Administration of property, liability and other insurance as needed.
  • Acknowledgement to donors of tax deductible donations.

Capacity Building

  • Coaching and leadership development for the project director.
  • Regular e-mail, phone and in-person contact.
  • Assistance on nonprofit management topics.


The Amador Community Foundation keeps administrative charge between 5% and 10% of project revenues by sharing costs across all projects.  This fee is assessed as project revenues are received by ACF. The small amount of interest income generated by project funds in ACF’s bank account is also part of the administrative charge.

Why do we charge a fee? The fee covers the cost of services provided to projects. Services include accounting, inclusion in audit/tax returns, coaching and technical assistance. By sharing these costs with other ACF projects, the fee is generally less expensive than what projects would pay vendors independently for the same service of a similar quality.

Projects must meet an annual minimum revenue fee of $100. Projects generating less than $100 in fees within ACF’s fiscal year will be charged the balance at fiscal year end. No additional fees will be assessed to projects that meet the annual minimum.

Project Criteria

The Amador Community Foundation only provides fiscal sponsorship to charitable projects that will improve the quality of life in Amador County. Projects must meet the same eligibility criteria for being a nonprofit organization. The project’s activities must be charitable in nature, there must be a public purpose, and any profits must be used to further the mission of the project.

ACF will generally not accept projects that already have applied for or received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. Nor will ACF, in most cases, accept projects that already have submitted incorporation paperwork with the State of California. There are instances where it does make sense for an existing 501(c)(3) to obtain a fiscal sponsor. For example, a fiscal sponsor may want to collaborate with multiple nonprofit organizations on a grant.

If your charitable project already has completed these steps, but still wants to apply for fiscal sponsorship, please contact Kathleen Harmon, Executive Director at 209-223-2148.

ACF does not consider for sponsorship projects of that are profit-making ventures, scholarship programs, or political, legislative or litigation-oriented projects. Faith-based charitable groups may apply, but the program cannot espouse religious beliefs, require adherence to particular religious beliefs by staff or service recipients, or seek converts to a particular faith.

ACF Evaluates Prospective Projects on Six Key Criteria

Genuine charitable intent

  • Is the group motivated by the desire to improve the quality of life in Amador County?

Able, committed leadership

  • Have the group leaders demonstrated a commitment to their community?
  • Do the leaders have the skills and ability to manage and lead a charitable project?
  • Is there a steering committee or advisory board involved in the project?

Evidence of real community need

  • Is there evidence of need for the proposed project?
  • Is it likely that the proposed project will provide tangible benefits to the community?
  • Is there evidence of community support for the project beyond the project leaders?

A clear set of project objectives

  • Can the group leaders describe their plan of action and proposed activities?
  • Does that plan address the need identified by the group leaders?
  • Is the project plan based on research and/or proven effective practices?
  • Can the group leaders articulate the expected short-term and long-term outcomes from the proposed activities?

Realistic budget projections

  • Has the group developed a realistic revenue and expense budget?

Apparent ability to attract charitable contributions

  • Do group leaders have the ability to identify, approach, and cultivate prospective funders?
  • Can the group leaders identify individuals, foundations or businesses willing to contribute financially to the project?

How to Apply

There are many well-intentioned ideas for nonprofit ventures. The Amador Community Foundation looks to support those ideas that are most likely to make a positive difference in Amador County and most likely to succeed in the competitive nonprofit funding environment. Charitable groups must apply to become an ACF project.

If your project plan meets our criteria and is ready for fiscal sponsorship, we encourage you to apply.

Current Projects

Projects of the Amador Community Foundation address a wide variety of issues, all in their own unique way. Some are just starting to carve their niche in the nonprofit sector. Others have been serving our community for more than a decade. All are working to make Amador County a better place to live.


The application deadline for fiscal sponsorship is the first business day of the month. Applications are reviewed monthly by ACF’s selection committee in a review process that takes approximately four to six weeks. We do not review applications in December.

If you have questions while completing the application, please contact Kathleen Harmon, Executive Director, at 209-223-2148 or

Download Fiscal Sponsorship Application