IDA Fiscal Sponsorship Application

Thank you for your interest in IDA's Fiscal Sponsorship Program.  For more general information about fiscal sponsorship with IDA, including answers to frequently asked questions, please visit our main Fiscal Sponsorship Page.

To apply to IDA's fiscal sponsorship program, please complete the following steps:

  1. Become a member of IDA. If you already have an active membership, proceed to the next step.
  2. Carefully read all of the requirements below and follow the instructions for assembling a project proposal and budget.
  3. Complete the Fiscal Sponsorship Application linked at the bottom of this page, attach your completed proposal and budget and pay the $75 application fee online.


  • The applicant (Project Director) must be 18 years of age or older.
  • The applicant must be a current paid member of IDA.
  • The project must be a documentary film or media project related to the documentary genre and produced in furtherance of IDA's mission; to support documentary filmmakers and to further the art of the documentary.
  • The project must not be able to be construed as propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, or supporting the participation in, or intervention in (including the publication or distribution of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.
  • Narrative/fiction films or any projects not directly related to the documentary genre or to IDA's mission are ineligible.
  • The applicant does not need to be a US citizen or US resident to be eligible to apply, however to receive funds from IDA the applicant must have a US Taxpayer ID number.  Please also be aware that funds released to Non US residents may be subject to mandatory withholding by the US Government. Please contact us before you apply to discuss your situation.
  • If applying with a documentary film, video, radio or other media project, the applicant must be an independent filmmaker or documentarian.
  • For the purposes of this sponsorship, IDA defines an independent filmmaker as a content creator who both owns the copyright of his or her work and has artistic, budgetary, and editorial control of the project. Documentaries being produced for hire or under the direction of a third party, such as a broadcast entity, university, foundation or nonprofit organization where another entity besides the applicant will own or have substantial editorial or other  control over the finished work, are ineligible.
  • The applicant must be a producer and/or director of the submitted work.
  • The project may be in any stage of development, production and or post production or distribution
  • Student films being produced through a college or University are ineligible.

Review Criteria

Both IDA staff and a committee of experienced filmmakers will review applications and accompanying materials. Some of the questions that staff and committee members will use in evaluating proposals include:

  • Do the Project Director and the project presented meet program eligibility requirements?
  • Does the project tell a compelling story?
  • Does the project take an innovative approach to the subject matter?  Has the story been told before and if so, does this project's approach bring something new to the story?
  • Does the Project Director have the access necessary to tell the story in a compelling way?
  •  Is the treatment well written and does it give a clear picture of the film's story and themes?
  • Is the Project Director and the production team assembled experienced and capable of completing the project as described?
  • Does the proposal identify an audience and a realistic plan for reaching and engaging that audience? Does the project reasonable chance of reaching its intended audience?
  • Does the proposal have a realistic and well thought out fundraising strategy and a reasonable chance of raising sufficient funds to complete the project as described. 
  • Is the budget thorough and realistic? Are line items in the budget within industry norms and standards?


1. Narrative Proposal – Save the proposal as a single PDF. You will be asked to upload the PDF as part of the application.

The proposal should be typed, incorporating answers to the following questions into a narrative format. The proposal should not be structured as a series of questions and answers or posed as a letter to the Committee. The goal is to use your submitted proposal as a "boiler plate" that you will then use to submit to foundations, corporations, and individuals for funding. While you may certainly draw from existing materials, please do not submit a business plan or proposal created specifically for other funders or sponsors without customizing it to meet the guidelines outlined below.

Your proposal should have a cover sheet with the title of your project and contact information for the primary Project Manager. All pages should be numbered.

The proposal should cover the following areas and address the following key questions in detail:

  1. Synopsis/Treatment(up to 4 single spaced pages): Provide a narrative synopsis that communicates the story your documentary will tell and presents a clear and concise vision for your finished film. Key questions to address include:
    • What is the story you plan to tell and how do you plan to tell it? Consider themes, characters, narrative-arc and point of view.
    • Why is the topic/story important?
    • What is the stylistic and visual approach? Are there any specific creative elements you plan to employ in telling the story?
    • Are there any specific challenges that this particular documentary presents and how you plan to address them?
  2. Status and Time-line (1-2 paragraphs): Provide a brief summary of the status of the project and a time-line for any work left to complete.
  3. Funding Strategy (1-2 paragraphs): What is your overall strategy for raising the funds required to complete the project as described. Who do you plan to approach for funding? How do you plan to identify and approach potential donors? Be specific!
  4. Audience, Distribution and Outreach(up to one page): In a narrative format discuss your strategic plan for distribution and outreach. Key questions to address include:  
    • Who is the audience for your film?
    • How do you plan to reach your audience?
    • What is your distribution strategy?
    • What, if any, outreach activities are you considering in relation to your project?
    • How will you engage and interact with your audience?
  5. Resume and Bios of Key Personnel and Advisers:  Provide a resume for the primary applicant (Project Director). In addition, give a brief 1-2 paragraph bio of each of the attached key creative personnel (e.g. Director, Producer(s), co-directors/producers, DP, Editor, etc.) and key advisers, highlighting previous credits and relevant experience. Having one or more content related advisers (i.e. historians, scientists, etc.) attached to the project is recommended if relevant to the subject being explored.  First time filmmakers are strongly advised to include advisers and or key personal experienced in documentary film.

2. Budget  - Save the budget as a single PDF. You will be asked to upload the PDF as part of the application.

  1. Top Sheet:  Provide a single page budget top sheet/summary.
  2. Line Item Budget: Provide a comprehensive line item budget including all documentary related expenses. We do not require any specific software or format, but the budget should be typed and broken down on a line item basis in the form of a spreadsheet. A budget cover sheet or narrative budget summary alone is not adequate. Please include detailed budget notes for any areas that may be viewed as out of the ordinary or which requires further explanation.

    A template you can use to customize and create your own budget is available here:

    It is not necessary to fill in every line included in the sample budget. You can customize it by adding lines or leaving out line items that are not relevant to your project.

    An excellent article about writing a documentary budget, along with a detailed sample budget, is available here:

 3. Sample Work (optional)

A sample work is not required. However if you would like to provide a trailer, scene selects or other work sample from the project you are applying with, or a sample from the director or producer's previous work, you can do that by providing us with a link where the sample work can be viewed online. There is a space in the application to provide a URL where the sample work can be viewed online. Please do not mail in DVDs or other material!  DVDs will not be viewed or returned.

We recommend for this service.

To upload and share your video to Vimeo, follow the steps below:

  1. If you have never used Vimeo, start with the following links:  
    Vimeo Basics:
    Vimeo Basic Upload Tutorial:
    Vimeo Help Center:
    Vimeo Forums:
  2. Upload your video sample to Vimeo and note the Vimeo URL for your video (i.e., You will have the option to submit this as part of your application. 
  3. After your video uploads, go to your video and select Settings from the upper right.
  4. From Settings, select Privacy. Make sure the box next to 'Allow other people to download the source video' is checked.
  5. The default setting on Vimeo uploads is 'public'.  If you would like your video to be private and viewable only by IDA staff and review committee members, you can make your video private and designate a password. To set your video to private and password protect it, choose private under the heading 'This video is…' and choose the option password-protected. (Do not select 'nobody else,' 'my contacts,' or 'people you choose.').  Note the password you set; you will have the option to submit it as part of your application. 

    Helpful Vimeo tutorials on uploading a private video and changing privacy settings on an existing video can be found here: and

Application Review Time-Line

We strive to review all applications with 1 month of submission. However, due to the large number of application submissions received and the busy schedules of our staff and reviewers, this time frame is not guaranteed.

We are sometimes able to do rush reviews to meet specific funding related deadlines, however you should not count on this. Please budget our review process into the time-line when you are considering grant application deadlines. If you don't hear from us within one month of submitting your completed application, please give us a call for an update on the status of your application.

Reviewers may contact you directly with questions about your application. When a final decision has been reached about your application you will be contacted via email.


I have read and understand the guidelines and eligibility requirements.