Recently, an enthusiastic lover of arts and culture visited the Foundation Center-Cleveland looking for a way to revive a form of French theater. We were asked the usual big question: How do I fund this enterprise?!
We talk with artist grantseekers about three basic grantseeking options, then we share some other advice:
- You can search for funding as an individual. A creative and flexible approach is required when deciding to “go it alone” as an individual grantseeker. Foundations do make grants to individuals, but this type of funding is limited. Most foundations, for very practical reasons, direct most of their grant dollars to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation Center’s own Foundation Grants to Individuals Online includes more than 6,200 funding entries, focused on many subjects and interests, including arts and artists. Other resources, such as those listed in our Knowledge Base article for artists offer links to awards, stipends, and internships.
- You can search for funding as a nonprofit. Most of the foundations that we collect information about support nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status, including arts organizations. But the commitment of time, effort, and money in starting a nonprofit can be discouraging to an artist (or anyone) who’s interested in getting one project off the ground. Take a look at our Knowledge Base articles discussing the formation of a nonprofit to get an idea of what’s involved.
- You can search for funding as part of a fiscal sponsorship arrangement. The fiscal sponsorship arrangement, an administrative partnership between an existing nonprofit and an individual or organization, is attractive to many artists. The artist operates the program or project and the fiscal agent administers and accounts for the grant funds. However, sometime it’s difficult to find an organization willing to act as a fiscal sponsor. The Foundation Center has a Guide to Fiscal Sponsorship and links to a number of websites with information, sample agreements, and other items.
Some advice. In Cleveland, there’s an organization called the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) that has developed an educational curriculum called Artist as Entrepreneur. Many times, people in the arts think about starting a nonprofit organization as a way to secure a financial future for their projects through seeking foundation grants and other financial donations. Running a thriving nonprofit is no less challenging than running a successful business. And some might argue that running a nonprofit can be even more challenging than running a business! So, to those in the arts who are serious about bringing their theatrical and other arts and culture dreams to life, you may want to consider a for-profit business model, and CPAC can help.
What are your recommendations for funding artistic enterprises? Let us know in the comments below.
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This guest blog post is courtesy of David Holmes, Regional Training Coordinator for the Foundation Center-Cleveland where he is responsible for creating, managing and delivering training programs in support of capacity building of nonprofits in Cleveland, and in the midwestern United States. David has an amazing depth of knowledge regarding fundraising and grant seeking and we are thrilled to have him present Diversify Your Funding: Intro to Fundraising Planning in an upcoming Sage educational webcast. All nonprofits and future fundraisers are welcome to attend. Register for it here.