Fiscal Sponsorship and Emerging Organizations

One of Propel’s Guiding Principles is to champion nonprofits, and we especially love to champion the work of emerging organizations through our Fiscal Sponsorship program. Supporting nonprofits throughout their lifecycle includes being there at the very beginning, even before the beginning, when an emerging organization does not yet have 501(c)(3) status—the Internal Revenue Code that recognizes nonprofits as tax-exempt and able to receive tax deductible grants and donations.  

There are many pathways to becoming a 501(c)(3) organization. Some groups work for years as informal coalitions before applying for tax-exempt status; some form quickly in response to an emerging need; others develop as they build capacity and community buy-in for a particular mission or purpose. 

When a group has formed around a cause and is pursuing charitable work they might ask, “how do we navigate the space between informal startup and established 501(c)(3) nonprofit?” Fiscal Sponsorship can bridge the space between the early days of a group’s formation and the day it becomes an official 501(c)(3). 

What is Fiscal Sponsorship?​ 

Fiscal Sponsorship enables groups without 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to access tax-deductible grants and donations​. Through a fiscal sponsor, a group can fundraise to support its programs and charitable activities before becoming an independent nonprofit.  

Additionally, Propel’s Fiscal Sponsorship program offers participants technical assistance and coaching. Our consultants have years of experience in nonprofit management and can coach groups in grant writing, budgeting, governance, establishing financial systems, and other priorities. Groups may spend a few months or a few years in fiscal sponsorship while, in addition to carrying out their mission, they incubate their ideas, develop sustainable infrastructure, and prepare to launch as a stand-alone organization.  

We are excited to share more about Fiscal Sponsorship’s updated goals, purpose, and criteria on our updated program page here:

This year, we look forward to having a deeper way to support the common needs, goals, and questions of fiscally sponsored groups through a new community-focused learning opportunity. 

The Emerging Nonprofits Cohort 

Our first-ever Emerging Nonprofits Cohort will provide a more immersive learning experience for a select number of organizations who are on a path to becoming a nonprofit but do not yet have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.  

We believe in the power of building strong relationships to support our work, and we know there are many incredible community leaders behind the emerging organizations in our community. The nine-month Cohort will provide a space for participants to learn together—from experts in the field and from each other—and carve out time to work on their bigger picture goals and priorities. Participants will also each receive a $5,000 grant. 

There are systemic and structural forces that challenge equity and unity in nonprofit work. This cohort is a means to provide support and solidarity in the work to advance justice and build opportunity and access. That’s why Cohort selection will prioritize organizations working in communities impacted by systemic oppression and/or serving groups who have been historically excluded from accessing resources. We also hope this pilot program will help us at Propel learn how to continue better serving new and emerging organizations in the future. 

Cohort members will participate in monthly gatherings between October and June focused on connecting and learning together about topics such as budgeting, fundraising, board governance, and strategic planning.  

Ready for the next step? 

Propel’s Emerging Organizations Cohort is only open to groups that are Fiscally Sponsored by Propel. If you are not already Fiscally Sponsored by Propel, you can apply here. If you are already in Propel’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, contact us at to indicate your interest.   

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