Small Arts & Culture Grants

NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

Overview

Oregon Department of Justice charity data shows that the majority of registered arts and culture nonprofit organizations in Oregon have annual budgets under $100,000. Although these organizations are central to the vitality of Oregon’s communities, they are often not eligible or competitive for traditional grant programs.

In response to this need, Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) announces the 7th year of the Small Arts & Culture Grants Program, investing $350,000 to support small community-driven arts and culture organizations. One-year grants of $1,000 to $5,000 for general operating support will be available to eligible arts and culture organizations.

2021 RFP

Review the information below from our Request for Proposals for more detailed information on eligibility, the scope of proposals sought, application process and review criteria. Additional information can be found in our FAQ section below.

Eligibility

The purpose of the 2021 Small Arts and Culture Grant cycle is to make funds available to small organizations for operating expenses.

To be eligible, organizations must:

  • Be incorporated with a mission identifying arts and culture as a priority reason for the organization’s existence.
  • Be a certified 501(c)3 tax exempt organization in good standing with the IRS.
  • Be headquartered in Oregon.
  • Document that the cash expenses of the organization during the most recently completed fiscal year were less than $100,000.
  • Submit a complete grant application online through OCF’s website.
  • Be prepared to use the awarded funds completely within one year of receipt.
  • Submit only one application per year for no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000.

Preference will be given to applications that:

  1. Have not previously been funded by this program.
  2. Represent a diverse range of geography, urban/rural communities and organizations led by and serving historically underrepresented groups.

Learn more about OCF’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Use of Fiscal Sponsors and Re-granting

Organizations or projects that are not 501(c)3 tax exempt entities may apply using a fiscal sponsor.  OCF prefers fiscal sponsors that have a mission identifying arts and/or culture as a priority reason for the organization’s existence. Fiscal sponsorship may only be used to support an independently-governed nonprofit, volunteer association, or like body. When supporting the work of an outside entity, fiscal sponsors will be exempt from the $100,000 limit listed above.

In addition, fiscal sponsors must certify that they will provide active oversight and take responsibility for the use of the funds as specified in the application. A fiscal sponsor may be permitted to submit more than one application, particularly in rural regions. This exception requires prior permission from OCF which may be requested by emailing smallartsculture@oregoncf.org.

Cultural Coalitions that meet the eligibility criteria and have a track record of successfully awarding small grants may apply for a grant of $1,000 to $5,000 to re-grant in any amounts in their counties. Coalitions must show they have an accessible application process and a systematic, fair review process for awarding grants. Coalitions may re-grant to non-501(c)3 entities if the Coalition is able to document the use of the funds for the public good.

Definitions

For this grant program, eligible organizations are defined as follows:

  • Arts and Culture Organization: an organization with a mission that states that it is organized primarily for the purpose of producing, promoting or presenting the arts, heritage and humanities to the public or organized primarily for identifying, documenting, interpreting and preserving cultural resources.
  • Cultural Coalitions: organizations formally recognized by the Oregon Cultural Trust. One official cultural coalition serves each county in Oregon.

Scope of Proposals Sought

The intent of the Small Arts & Culture Grants Program is to support a wide range of cultural and artistic organizations that enrich the lives of Oregonians and Oregon communities. The current grant initiative focuses on general operating support to allow organizations to dictate how to best use funds to advance their mission. Operating support grants are intended to support the core, ongoing operations and programs of an organization. This includes, but is not limited to: staffing, administration, outreach, marketing, overhead, and/or programming expenses.

Regional Review and Distribution of Grants

Funds are allocated across eight regions in Oregon based on population and the number of applications received from each region in the previous cycle. Applications for this grant program will be reviewed by volunteers representing each region of Oregon and decisions will be made independently in those regions. The application process and reporting requirements are designed to be relatively simple to acknowledge that many small organizations are run by volunteers with little staffing infrastructure or grant writing expertise.

Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider the following criteria in evaluating applications:

  • Impact:
    • How will the organization’s activities and goals benefit the community?
    • How are artists or culture bearers involved in the organization?
    • What communities are impacted by the organization’s work?
    • Does the organization serve historically underrepresented populations?
    • Would this be the organization’s first small arts and culture award by OCF?
  • Community Engagement:
    • Is community support evident through volunteers, cash donations, in-kind resources, or other means of participation?
    • Does the leadership of the organization represent the community?
  • Leadership and Management:
    • Does the organization have appropriate expertise, experience and qualifications?
    • Does the applicant have a demonstrated record of programming and a proven ability to manage projects?

Application Procedures

Proposals must be submitted online by 5:00 pm (PST) on October 11, 2021 (Monday). Only proposals completed on OCF’s online grant system will be accepted. Late or incomplete applications cannot be considered. The online application will be available by August 30, 2021.

Step 1: Register and sign in

To register for or sign-in to the online grant portal, please click on the “MyOCF” link at the top of the OCF home page at www.oregoncf.org. If your organization has not applied through “MyOCF” before, you are strongly encouraged to register well in advance of the application deadline.

Step 2: Fill out the online application

Step-by-step instructions for navigating the MyOCF Grants Portal and completing the application are available on the Small Arts & Culture Grants Program page on OCF’s website (www.oregoncf.org).  You will be able to complete the application in several sittings and save your work. The application includes several fill-in-the-blank forms including budget information. Additional budget information may be requested of fiscal sponsors (if applicable).

The following are the narrative questions as they will appear in the online system:

  • Tell us about your organization. What is your mission and track record? Highlight two or three key facts or accomplishments that best represent your organization. (Character limit: 750 with spaces)
  • Who will benefit from the services your organization provides? Describe the community your organization serves; for example, geography, income, education, age, race, ethnicity, culture, ability/disability, gender, sexual orientation or any other defining characteristic. (Character limit: 750 with spaces)
  • Please describe your organization’s programming. What are the specific arts and culture activities to be supported? How are artists or culture bearers involved in decision-making or programming? What type of works or services are produced, presented or offered? What are your goals for the grant-funded year? (Character limit: 1,600 with spaces)
  • Who is involved in your work? Briefly describe the organization’s leaders (staff, volunteers, board, etc.) and the role they play in programming and management. How is the community engaged in your work? (Character limit: 750 with spaces)

Step 3:  Attachments

In order to complete your application, you will need to upload the following documents. These documents must be submitted along with the narrative questions by October 11th. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Required attachments include:

  • Letter of Support from someone outside the organization’s staff and/or volunteers explaining the importance of the organization to the community.
  • A list of names, affiliations and contact information for the organization’s board members and the project team.
  • If using a fiscal sponsor, a letter from the director or chair of the sponsoring organization accepting responsibility for project oversight and the appropriate expenditure of the grant funds.

Step 4: Submit your Application by 5:00pm on October 11, 2021. 

Be sure to press the “submit” button to formally submit your completed application. Incomplete applications will not be accepted without exception. You will receive an e-mail confirmation that your application was successfully submitted within 24 hours of submission.

Staff Assistance

Read Tips for Nonprofits Communicating with OCF (PDF). Tips, guidelines and FAQs before you contact OCF.

Additional questions? 

Questions about accessing or navigating the online system, resetting your password, or other technical issues may be submitted OCF via email to grants@oregoncf.org. Questions about eligibility or the narrative questions may be submitted to smallartsculture@oregoncf.org. We will respond by email or phone as soon as we are able.   

Past Grantees

In 2019, 115 Small Arts and Culture grants were awarded throughout Oregon, totaling $350,000. The 2020 cycle was cancelled to provide COVID relief funding. View lists of past grantees:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this an annual grant program?
Can an organization apply each year whether they are denied or granted an award?
The program eligibility criteria require that the organization’s operating expenses be under $100,000. What if last year’s budget meets the criteria, but this year’s budget does not?
What if the organization is over the annual allotted $100,000 in operating expenses?
Why is funding directed to operating support instead of project support?
What if our organization is not a 501(c)3?
Does an organization have to be in business for a certain amount of time or have a minimum budget size to apply?
Does an organization need to have paid staff to be competitive for a grant?
Can an organization apply to Small Arts and other OCF grant programs in the same year/cycle?
How can I get help for filling out the on-line grant application?
How long do we have to spend the grant?
What are the reporting requirements?
What if I still have questions?