Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions about SPARC. For further information, please email [email protected].

What is SPARC?
  • Founded in 1998, SPARC is a non-profit advocacy organization that supports systems for research and education that are open by default and equitable by design. We believe everyone should be able to access and contribute to the knowledge that shapes our world. SPARC operates as an independent project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit fiscal sponsor organization.
  • About SPARC
How does SPARC achieve its mission?
  • As a catalyst for action, SPARC’s pragmatic agenda focuses on driving policy change, supporting member action, and cultivating communities that advance our vision of knowledge as a public good. From the local to the global level, SPARC works to address the ways in which our knowledge systems exclude people due to racism, colonialism, and other legacies of injustice.
  • What We Do
Who are SPARC’s members?
  • SPARC’s membership includes about 250 libraries and academic organizations across North America. This membership is complemented by affiliated SPARC coalitions in Africa, Europe, and Japan as well as individual member organizations elsewhere around the world.
  • Join SPARC
How is SPARC funded?
  • SPARC’s core work is primarily funded by our members. We also receive grants and donations from philanthropic organizations that are restricted to specific programs or initiatives. A list of grants and donations since 2014 is available on our website.
  • SPARC Finances
What is a fiscal sponsor?
  • “Fiscal sponsor” is a technical term for non-profit organizations that serve as the administrative home for projects that want to engage in charitable activities. Instead of forming a separate legal entity, smaller organizations like SPARC share the legal and tax-exempt status of the fiscal sponsor. SPARC’s fiscal sponsor is the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. As our fiscal sponsor, NVF provides legal, financial, compliance, human resources, and other administrative services, allowing SPARC to focus on our mission-critical work.
  • NVF Fiscal Sponsorship FAQ
Why does SPARC use a fiscal sponsor instead of registering as an independent non-profit?
  • SPARC has always been a fiscally sponsored organization. We started out in 1998 as an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), then transitioned to be a fiscally sponsored project of the New Venture Fund in 2014. This model serves SPARC well, as it allows our staff and leadership to focus on mission-critical activities, while receiving legal, financial, and administrative support from our fiscal sponsor. SPARC’s Steering Committee reviews and approves our fiscal sponsorship agreement annually and retains the right to move SPARC to a different fiscal sponsor or become independent non-profit if needed.
  • NVF-SPARC Project Charter
How is SPARC governed?
  • SPARC’s governing body is the SPARC Steering Committee, which is made up of elected representatives of SPARC’s membership. The Steering Committee oversees the Executive Director and determines SPARC’s mission, strategy, operating priorities, policy positions, and programming. The Steering Committee also oversees SPARC’s finances and approves the NVF-SPARC Project Charter, which grants NVF oversight authority for legal, fiscal, and administrative purposes.
  • SPARC Governance
Does SPARC engage in lobbying activities?
  • Most of SPARC’s advocacy activities – including broader issue-area awareness, education, and calls for action to advance the issues central to our work – do not constitute lobbying. Like many non-profit projects, a small amount of SPARC’s advocacy work does involve lobbying, which the IRS defines as directly seeking to influence specific legislation. As a project of NVF, SPARC fully complies with relevant federal, state, and IRS regulations for 501(c)(3) non-profits.
  • Advocacy vs. Lobbying
What does “SPARC” stand for?
  • SPARC goes by its acronym, which stands for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
  • About SPARC
How can I get involved in supporting SPARC’s work?
  • There are many ways for institutions and individuals to help SPARC support systems for research and education that are open by default and equitable by design:

Learn more about our work