Charities loosening strings on arts grants to nonprofits

Foundations such as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation have loosened the strings on some grants to arts organizations to help them weather a severe downturn in fundraising and income from ticket sales and the like, according to a recent New York Times article.

“We asked ourselves whether, in this time of urgency, restricting the use of capital was the best use of our money,” said Ben Cameron, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s program director for the arts, “and our board decided it was not.”Foundations are facing a sharp increase in demand for aid, even as their assets have declined, which is forcing them to rethink the way they do business.
Some foundations have decided to increase the amount they dispense each year, even though that may trigger a higher excise tax. Others are allocating their grants to support nonprofit groups’ operating costs, when they have traditionally supported only program expenses.

In ordinary times, renegotiating grant agreements, as Duke is doing, would be unusual. But of the 79 foundations responding to a recent survey by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, 16 said they had invited organizations to do just that.


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