Earth Island Institute has a 40-year history of providing fiscally sponsored projects with 501(c)3 status, in addition to offering a variety of business tools and consultative support to help them grow and accomplish their environmental-protection goals.
We are looking for projects that help further those goals through education and advocacy — led by activists and social entrepreneurs committed to stepping up, making change, and inspiring others to take action on behalf of the environment.
Check out our project network and learn how we can help your program succeed. Read about the 13 benefits of becoming and Earth Island project and see the frequently asked questions below.
Before you submit an application, contact Susan Kamprath at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief overview of your project. Someone from our project support team will meet with you to learn more about your project, answer your questions, and see whether it is a good fit with Earth Island.
Download the application and budget worksheet. When your application is complete, please submit it by email to
Application deadlines are March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1.
Our staff and program committee will conduct a thorough review of your application and make recommendations to our Board of Directors for a final decision. For approved applications, project support staff will work with you to coordinate orientation and start-up.
“I can’t imagine a better environmental fiscal sponsor than Earth Island.”
—Greg Colvin, Author of Fiscal Sponsorship: 6 Ways to Do It Right, and project director, Kelly Creek Protection Project
1. Fiscal sponsorship with Earth Island allows you to focus on program work while we handle back-office administration.
2. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) status through Earth Island enables your project to receive tax-exempt donations from individuals and foundations.
3. Community: You’ll have opportunities to interact and learn from peers and create synergy by working with allied campaigns.
4. Top charity ratings from key national charity ratings services give your donors confidence that their funds are secure and that your home organization meets the highest standards.
5. No minimum funds are needed to start a project at Earth Island. Our project services are available to projects of any size, and we are committed to supporting new and emerging ideas.
6. Expanded reach: You can reach new audiences through coverage in our award-winning quarterly magazine, Earth Island Journal, as well as through our website, newsletter, and social media.
7. Our dedicated project support team works closely to help coach, train, and develop strategies and assist with fundraising.
8. Finance tracking: Earth Island provides centralized accounting services, including monthly financial statements and custom reporting.
9. Our professional administrative team provides HR services, payroll and benefits management, state and federal tax filings and compliance, health and liability insurance, organizational audits, accounts receivable, and banking.
10. Skills trainings: Projects participate in workshops, project summits, roundtable discussions, and training sessions to build capacity and increase effectiveness.
11. Recognition and stability: Projects gain public notice by being part of a highly regarded organization with a four-decade track record of accomplishment.
12. Our in-house legal services can help your project employ litigation strategies to support and advance your program work.
13. Make the work fun: As Earth Island’s founder David Brower stated, “Have fun saving the world, or you are just going to depress yourself.”
Fiscal sponsors are tax-exempt, charitable ventures that, according to a June 2012 IRS report, “have the ability to receive charitable contributions for specific projects, the infrastructure to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws and adequate internal controls to ensure that the funds will be used for the intended charitable purposes.” More information about fiscal sponsorship can be found on the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors website.
Though fiscal sponsorship is sometimes described as an administrative relationship, Earth Island enhances its services by providing professional support, building capacity, and creating community for grassroots environmental projects and activists.
In general, it takes between three and four months for a project to submit a project application, go through the review process, get adopted by the Board of Directors, and complete orientation. Our process is selective, so not all projects that apply are adopted.
We consider new projects four times a year, and application deadlines are March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1. For more information about the project application process, please see above.
No. Earth Island Institute does not require confirmed funding to qualify for sponsorship. However, it will be the responsibility of Earth Island sponsored projects to raise the funds needed to implement their programs and reach their goals.
Yes, we welcome applications from existing 501(c)(3) organizations. However, once you become an Earth Island project you must do all fundraising, income, and expenses through Earth Island’s 501(c)(3), and your existing 501(c)(3) will have to be closed or made dormant.
Yes, we will consider applications from projects wishing to transfer from another fiscal sponsor. Please make sure you indicate your current status in your application to Earth Island and we can discuss the specific steps in making this type of transition. This process requires cooperation and support of your current fiscal sponsor so we encourage you to discuss your plans with them as early as possible.
Under certain circumstances we will consider a project application outside of our normal review cycle; however, this is the exception rather than the rule. If you think that your project should be considered for expedited review, please submit a letter with your application describing the reason for your request. We will consult with you and make a decision.
Earth Island cannot provide short-term fiscal sponsorship. We’re looking for applicants who want to be part of our network and work with us on accomplishing long-term program goals.