Understanding the Difference Between Fiscal Agent and Fiscal Sponsor

Fiscal agent and fiscal sponsor

For nonprofits and other organizations, finding financial support can be a challenge. This is where fiscal agents and fiscal sponsors come in. They can serve as a bridge between an organization and financial support. However, it’s important to understand the difference between a fiscal agent and a fiscal sponsor before deciding which one to work with. In this blog post, we will dive into the definitions, responsibilities, and benefits of each.

What is a Fiscal Agent?

A fiscal agent is an organization that temporarily manages finances for other organizations. In general, a fiscal agent serves as the financial arm of an organization. This means that they handle all the financial transactions, paperwork, and record-keeping on the organization’s behalf. Fiscal agents are often used when a grant or other financial support requires the recipient to be a registered nonprofit, but the recipient isn’t yet registered.

Roles and Responsibilities:

The responsibilities of a fiscal agent include handling deposits, disbursing funds, managing financial records, and generating financial reports. They also take care of the tax and legal compliance requirements. In short, a fiscal agent acts as a financial consultant to organizations that need guidance on budgeting, managing records, and regulatory compliance. Generally, the fiscal agent charges a fee to take care of these responsibilities.


The most significant advantage of working with a fiscal agent is that it gives organizations access to more funders. This is because a fiscal agent can work with organizations that have yet to attain their nonprofit status. In addition, the fiscal agent reduces the workload for the recipient organization, giving them more time to focus on their programs and mission. The chances of obtaining financial support for the recipient are enhanced through tax compliance and transparency with the funders.

What is a Fiscal Sponsor?

A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit organization that agrees to administer funds for another organization. Fiscal sponsors are most often used when the organization in need of funding is not a registered nonprofit and is seeking a high level of autonomy. Under the fiscal sponsorship model, the sponsored organization is free to operate in its own way, while the fiscal sponsor provides important support with legal and financial compliance.

Roles and Responsibilities:

In this arrangement, the fiscal sponsor is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance, managing deposits and disbursements, and executing other financial management-related activities. There is usually an agreement between the sponsor and the recipient which outlines the revenue-sharing model and how funds are managed.


A fiscal sponsor offers considerable financial benefits to the sponsored organization of all sizes; from minimizing the level of risk, to providing greater funding opportunities. It also enables the sponsored organization to operate with high efficiency and accountability, which increases the chances of obtaining more financial support.


In conclusion, both the fiscal agent and fiscal sponsor models provide essential services to organizations in need of funding. While both arrangements can be very beneficial, it is important for the recipient organization to select the right one. This largely depends on the stage of development and mission of the organization, their level of financial expertise, and the amount of autonomy they want. Be sure to engage in a thorough evaluation process before making a decision.