In 2003 as part of a strategic planning initiative, Tides conducted a benchmarking study to examine the issues and challenges of using fiscal sponsorship as a mechanism to support innovation in the nonprofit sector. The study led to a gathering of fiscal sponsors—including Community Partners, Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, Earth Island Institute , PHFE Management Solutions, Community Initiatives, Third Sector New England, and Tides—and by early 2004, the leaders of these organizations decided to meet regularly to collaboratively define and build the relatively unknown, and greatly misunderstood, field of fiscal sponsorship.
This group became the first Steering Committee of the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors.The group quickly concluded that in order to move this work forward, it was important to gain a deeper understanding of the current practice of fiscal sponsorship around the country. With key support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation , the nascent NNFS created a field scan survey for fiscal sponsors. The field scan proved that there was a great need for guidelines and best practices in order to support the highest quality of practice in the field. Leaders in the field of fiscal sponsorship have worked over six years to develop the NNFS Guidelines for Best Practice.
Today, the NNFS is supported and led by a Steering Committee comprised of some of the most dedicated and diverse fiscal sponsors practicing today: Community Initiatives, Community Partners, Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, Earth Island Institute, Fractured Atlas, Fusion Partnerships, Third Sector New England, Tides, and Urban Affairs Coalition. The Steering Committee is responsible for setting the direction and developing the programming to help ensure greater understanding and access to tools that enable the responsible practice of this important tool.
What appears above is a brief history of the formation of the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors. For a broad chronology of the field of fiscal sponsorship, visit the Fiscal Sponsor Directory.