To increase individual giving to the arts and build community foundations' ability to exercise leadership in the arts.
Individual donors are critically important to nonprofit arts organizations. They contribute approximately 35 percent of arts organizations' revenues, the second-largest category of income after ticket sales. Yet over the past 15 years, individual giving to the arts has declined. Public funding for the arts has also been dramatically cut.
In 2004, we created the Communities Advancing the Arts initiative to help community foundations across California increase individual giving to the arts. We have committed more than $9 million through 2011 for this effort. About half of this investment is for regranting to small and midsize arts organizations. Community foundations use the remaining portion to increase their outreach to individual donors.
By funding these two activities, we believe that community foundations will be able to establish and deepen their track records in arts grantmaking. This, in turn, will attract new arts donors and increased giving from existing donors. Each community foundation has designed its own strategy toward reaching these goals.
Participants and Timeframe
The first phase of this initiative, from 2004 to 2007, involved 13 community foundations. (Please see our evaluation page for a full list of phase one participants.) In early 2008, we launched a second three-year phase of the initiative with grants to nine community foundations:
Participating community foundations were selected based on:
- Institutional commitment to the arts
- Creativity and resourcefulness of the proposed approaches
- Strength and capacity of proposed partnerships
- Self-identified goals that were aggressive and achievable
- Internal capacity and a solid track record in attracting new donors
- Signs of readiness in the community for a significant focus on the arts, such as the existence of a countywide cultural plan, growing capacity of the local arts council, involvement of multiple stakeholders in promoting the value of the arts and other funding resources
We are not accepting proposals for new participants in this initiative, which is scheduled to conclude in 2011. We accept unsolicited inquiries for arts funding only through our Creative Connections Fund.
AdvancetheArts.org — Participants in this initiative are sharing what they are learning with the field through an Irvine-sponsored website, AdvancetheArts.org. The site features the success stories — and challenges — of the community foundations involved in this initiative. The site offers a variety of tools, templates, case studies and lessons learned for organizations working to increase individual giving to the arts.