The year was 2006, and, using funds from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, the newly formed National Network of Fiscal Sponsors launched a field scan to gather the first facts and stats about fiscal sponsors.
NNFS, in collaboration with Social Impact Commons, is again conducting a field scan. Its goal: collect data to define what our growing field looks like now, its size, the potential directions it might take and ways to advocate for its expansion. The survey results, to be disseminated widely and freely, will be used to promote understanding among practitioners, encourage funders to recognize fiscal sponsorship’s value to the nonprofit sector and support fiscal sponsors and their projects.
The principals began planning this scan in mid-2021. They were never under any illusion that it would be a quick look with immediately definitive survey results. By late December, completed questionnaires were being returned, a little more slowly than hoped, from 676 contacts.
“Fiscal sponsorship is expanding rapidly, we think, and is just regrouping post pandemic. As field-builders, we’re just starting to advance the case for more advocacy work. This is the beginning of a long road, but one well worth walking.” — Thad Squire, Social Impact Common’s Chief Commons Steward
“A scan hasn’t been done in a while, and we don’t yet have the field’s attention on this need,” said Thad Squire, Social Impact Common’s Chief Commons Steward, in an email to the Field Scan Committee. “Fiscal sponsorship is expanding rapidly, we think, and is just regrouping post pandemic. As field-builders, we’re just starting to advance the case for more advocacy work. This is the beginning of a long road, but one well worth walking.”
The survey is open to fiscal sponsors of all sizes and models based in the United States and its territories. Participants in their last fiscal year must have sponsored at least one project and managed a total of $2,500 or more in sponsored project expenses.
The deadline for completing the three-part survey, originally December 16, has been extended to January 31, 2023, giving planners more time to encourage participation in this important project. Squire estimates that once a respondent collects relevant data, the survey can be completed in under an hour.
At Fiscal Sponsorship Conversations, the weekly online forum, Squire spoke more about expectations for the scan.
“We’re not billing this as encyclopedic, all organizations represented,” he said. “But we are hoping to get a good sample of what the field is in our known, seeable landscape, and then use that to learn.”
The field scan report is expected to be ready for dissemination in early spring 2023.
Here’s the link to take the survey.
The 2022 Fiscal Sponsorship Field Scan is a collaboration between the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors and Social Impact Commons with in-kind tech support from the NNFS Steering Committee Chair, Urban Affairs Coalition. A final report collating and analyzing data will be distributed under a Creative Commons license through Social Impact Commons and NNFS. It will list participants by name and location, but individual organizational data will remain confidential, viewed only for analysis and interpretive purposes by the NNFS Field Scan Committee.