Fiscal Sponsorship

The Sierra Club Foundation (“Foundation”) is a 501(c)(3) public charity as determined by the IRS and is governed by an independent board of directors. It is the fiscal sponsor of the charitable programs of the Sierra Club (“Club”), a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. The Foundation provides charitable grants to it, and other organizations, to support scientific, educational, literary, organizing, advocacy, and legal programs that further the Foundation’s mission and goals.

Gifts to the Sierra Club as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization are not tax-deductible. This status allows Sierra Club to engage in legislative lobbying and political advocacy to a much greater extent than most other groups. Sierra Club is able to advocate for strong environmental laws and candidates for public office at the municipal, state, and federal level because of its unique structure. 

The Foundation uses a pre-approved grant relationship fiscal sponsorship model (also known as Model C ), which creates a grantor (Foundation) – grantee (Club) relationship through which the Foundation maintains independent oversight, control, and discretion/variance power over all charitable funds raised and granted to benefit the charitable programs of the Club as required by law. The Foundation maintains the right to determine how charitable funds are disbursed within the purposes for which they were contributed and the unilateral right to select those recipients the Foundation believes will best accomplish those purposes.The Sierra Club is a principal, though not exclusive, recipient of the Sierra Club Foundation’s charitable grants

The Sierra Club Foundation and the Sierra Club maintain robust compliance oversight programs to ensure that no charitable funds from the Foundation are utilized for non-charitable purposes (unless permitted under the Foundation’s 501(h) lobbying expenditure election).

Given the unique pre-approved grant relationship between the Sierra Club Foundation and the Sierra Club, the Foundation does not provide fiscal sponsorship to non-Sierra Club organizations.