Eligibility & Process:

Grants of up to $15,000 are made to arts and cultural organizations with operating expenses between $50,000 and $800,000 to support organizational development efforts. Grants enable organizations to hire consultants to help the board and staff accomplish work that requires time, energy, expertise, and innovative thinking beyond everyday operations.

We look for projects tailored specifically to the needs of organization receiving the award. We are interested in applicants’ analysis of the state of their organizations and what’s needed to continue to strengthen and sustain them. If you have a project idea and you are not sure it fits, call or email to inquire.

Examples of projects eligible for funding, include, but are not limited to:

  • Restructuring for new demands and new ways of doing business

  • Increasing resources

  • Improving structures and systems

  • Exploring mergers, joint ventures, and collaborations

  • Business or strategic planning to steer through changes

  • Researching and testing new ways to engage and reach audiences

  • Assessing marketing capacity and planning future marketing strategies

  • Identifying ways to diversify and/or increase earned revenue

  • Developing/refining financial systems and processes

  • Analyzing short- and long-term sustainability of the organization’s operating model

  • Improving efficiency through development of new working processes or systems

Eligible applicants must fit the following criteria:

  • A mission focused on presenting, producing, or providing arts programming and/or on serving artists or small arts and cultural organizations;

  • A three-year operating history after incorporation as an Illinois nonprofit;

  • A current IRS 501(c) (3) public charity designation determination letter;

  • Annual operating expenses between $50,000 and $800,000, as reflected in the most recently filed I.R.S. Form 990 or audit;

  • At least one paid part-time staff and five board members;

  • Located in and serving Cook Country.

  • If a former Arts Work Fund grant recipient, must have submitted a final report for previous grant activities.

ELIGIBLE COSTS

Capacity-building funding requests may include project-related costs (for example, marketing materials, website development, or technology upgrades) in addition to consultant fees. However, these grants will not cover staff time or overhead costs. The Arts Work Funds will automatically add 10% to the project costs to support staff time and overhead. Full project costs will be considered for funding, and no matching funds are required. 

Ineligible Costs: Program expenses; Debt retirement; Endowments, capital campaigns; Lobbying activities, Staff salaries, Purchase of computers, software, equipment, furnishing; Annual audits; Conference/workshop fees; Printing/general material costs; Reimbursement for work completed prior to a grant award.

TIMELINE

To be responsive to projects as they emerge, applications are accepted at any time throughout the year. Grant decisions made on a quarterly basis.

Core Grants Login


Idea Lab Grants

Arts organizations devise creative solutions in order to develop top notch artistic products on a daily basis. The Idea Lab grant program is an opportunity to use that same creative thinking to identify solutions to organization challenges or growth needs.

Grants support development and testing of promising ideas or new approaches to solving chronic organizational challenges or to pursuing emerging opportunities - e.g. building audiences, diversifying income, shifting fundraising strategies, new business or operating models, or engaging new communities.

Grants are intended to allow arts organizations to identify, implement, and refine new strategies that will have far-reaching effects in helping organizations do their best work. Strong proposals will make the case for the value and impact of the idea and link strategies to core values, mission, and programming. Collaborative efforts are eligible. Applicants must agree to document and share their learning.

Letters of inquiry are due July 5, 2016. Full proposals will be by invitation. A panel of Arts Work Fund Steering Committee members and nonprofit arts leaders will ultimately select four to five organizations that will receive two-year grants, up to $25,000 per year, to support idea implementation.

Eligible applicants must fit the following criteria:

  • A mission focused on presenting, producing, or providing arts programming and/or on serving artists or small arts and cultural organizations;

  • A three-year operating history after incorporation as an Illinois nonprofit;

  • A current IRS 501(c) (3) public charity designation determination letter;

  • Annual operating expenses between $50,000 and $800,000, as reflected in the most recently filed I.R.S. Form 990 or audit;

  • At least one paid part-time staff and five board members;

  • Located in and serving Cook Country;

  • If a former Arts Work Fund grant recipient, must have submitted a final report for previous grant activities.

If you have an idea that you think is a good fit with this grant program, fill out an LOI.

Idea Grants LOI

TIMELINE

June 1, 2017 RFP released
July 7, 2017 LOIs due to AWF
August 7, 2017 Full Applications Invited
September 8, 2017 Full Proposals due to AWF
Late October, 2017 2016 Grant Awards Announced

The Arts Work Fund invests in the financial sustainability, management, governance and growth capacities of small arts and cultural organizations located in the Chicago metropolitan region.

Read more

Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development
P.O. Box 577309
Chicago, IL 60657-7309
773.296.2601 PHONE
773.435.6532 FAX

Contact us

AWF Connects paper airplane

AWF Connect is an open listserv aimed at connecting grant-makers and grant-seekers to discuss the challenges and successes of capacity building.

Join the conversation

The AWF Newsletter features the latests news, observations and resources from AWF and our partners.

Keep in the loop
Site content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development
Design & communications strategy by: studiothread