GIA Members Responses to Economic Downturn Survey


In late January GIA polled its 309 member organizations about their organization's responses to the economic downturn. 117 (38%) members responded, which provides a healthy sample of the membership.

Members reported their expected 2009 arts grantmaking would likely compare to 2008 as follows:

  • 41% expected that 2009 would be the same as 2008.
  • 13% expected that it would be reduced to 90% of 2008.
  • 12% expected that it would be reduced to 80% of 2008.
  • 11% expected that it would be reduced to 70% of 2008.
  • 24% expected that it would be reduced to 60% of 2008 or less.

Members also reported other measures they are taking to assist grantees in the current economy that might be of interest to other funders, including the following:

From the GIA Survey to Member Organizations, January 2009

Question 3: Are there other measures your organization is taking to assist grantees in the current economy that would be models or of interest to other GIA members?

  • Providing Emergency fund and technical assistance through a system of workshops and consultants.
  • Board phone tree, weekly executive director newsletter, working with the PAA for increase in NEA funding and arts in economic package.
  • Emergency funds set up, and technical assistance system of workshops and consultants.
  • Nothing special—but we normally give direct awards to artist in recognition of the fact that they struggle in the best of circumstances and are harshly affected by any economic downturn.
  • Adding a new program area focused on economic relief; conducting scan of current grantee conditions and study of potential collaborative funding initiatives that would help organizations respond to current challenges; media outreach to keep the arts in the public eye during discussions of impacts of recession.
  • Re-prioritizing our Opportunity grant program to handle emergency requests from arts organizations.
  • Asking all of our participants and projects to preserve core programming, but also continuing to develop selected new initiatives that seem best suited for our organization and partnerships, given the unpredictable funding climate. We cannot stop looking ahead, but are fully aware that launching new programs or initiatives at this time is risky.
  • We provide a broad range of workshops for small arts organizations on management, fund-raising, organizational development, etc.
  • Utilizing good listening skills. We are assuring folks that we are still here doing for them what we do…
  • Actually, the downturn comes exactly as we are implementing a new strategic plan with a focus on more targeted grantmaking in all areas, so it's a double-whammy for the grantees. So, institutional philanthropy's move to metrics-driven and venture philanthropy concepts comes at a difficult transition moment for the nonprofits.
  • Help facilitate low or zero interest loans for arts organizations thru gov't sources.
  • Giving grantees flexibility in applying our grants to areas of greatest need.
  • In process of conducting a national fieldwide survey to include grantee pool about economic status. results to be submitted to Obama arts transition team. Considering offering special workshops on fundraising in tough times.
  • We are providing more technical assisance—workshops for groups; individual consultancies for key organizations and are moving to GOS, though this was not in response to the climate but to an emerging understanding of GOS impact. Plus, I listen a lot and provide some advice to EDs—this is a usual thing, but it is becoming deeper and more frequent. We will be reviewing our TA offerings within a few months in light of new grantmaking tools and economy.
  • Postponing major programs & replacing them with low-cost effective substitutes to maintain the thrust & direction of our mandate.
  • Not specifically yet, but we know it's more important than ever to be available to constituents and opportunities for getting together (convenings) are truly appreciated.
  • Training in evaluating organization's options as recession moves past this year.
  • We are still talking about this with an eye to FY2010 which begins in July 09.
  • Initiating higher number of networking activities for sector; encouraging dialogue on critical issues for field.
  • We are continuing to give a high proportion of general operating grants. We are exploring with other funders in our area possible joint efforts to provide emergency safety-net funds and longer-range efforts to strengthen nonprofit capacity. We are discussing with other funders and nonprofits ways to encourage more collaborations among funders, as well as ways that funders can help nonprofits partner more deeply.
  • More general support, multi-year, larger grants (to fewer orgs).
  • We are minimizing costs to maximize grants, but are limited because we have only 2½ staff and a fixed lease period so cannot reduce occupancy, the other large expense.
  • Taking on more of a convening role.
  • We are giving more to human services organizations.
  • More workshops, networking opportunities, information technical assistance for grantees.
  • Emphasis on small or midsized cultural organizations, and on providing multiyear general operating support. Priority funding for service organizations and technical assistance providers for service to the field. Priority for organizations exploring mergers, strategic alliances, or other cost-cutting initiatives.
  • We have posted a letter to grantees on our website (www.houstonendowment.org), in addition we are making every effort to respond to requests as quickly as we can. The Houston/Galveston region is still recovering from Hurrican Ike—This was an enormously devastating storm in September and many grantees have just recently gotten organized enough to submit a grant request.
  • Encouraging orgs to expand dialog, collab., resource sharing,etc. Suggestion shared marketing, back office support, etc.
  • Allowing grants to be spent on operating expenses.
  • More online services.
  • More challenge grants; exploring challenge grants to orgs which will match volunteer service.
  • We're developing a series of consultancies to help maximize impact of grants already made…perhaps even a shared marketing person. we're also staging some works in parks so that sunk-costs are maximized… offered for free.
  • Trying to allow more flexibility in use of our dollars—consider operating support vs project support. Likely to suspend capital grants to have more resources for more basic needs.
  • Convening; offering use of facilities; removing some conditions and restrictions on grants and endowments.
  • Conversations with groups of grantees regarding financial outlook and shared problem solving (3 so far since October).
  • Encouraging collaborations and mergers.
  • More general operating support.
  • Special workshops on Board Development, Fundraising and Marketing.
  • Sharing resources among grantees.
  • Bringing together community for discussion, sharing of initiatives, ideas and solutions.
  • We are just in the process of talking to our grantees to identify things they might recommend.
  • Looking at programs that will help to stablize the arts industry.
  • Gang snail mailings, more email.
  • We will be convening grantees with similar requests (i.e. marketing staff) to discuss possible shared services.
  • Increased our voice and activisim on cultural policy.
  • Convenings to look at creative solutions.
  • Making unrestricted gifts.
  • Sponsoring a 2 part seminar with Donor's Forum for all of our grantees to explore ways of proactively addressing the economic downturn.
  • In fall 2008, the Kresge Foundation surveyed current grantees to gauge the impact of the current economy on programs, delivery systems, and capital campaigns. In addition, we asked how the Foundation could assist the grantees. The responses varied from deadline extensions and early payments to requests operating support. While it is too early to determine how we will respond to these requests, we are committed to being flexible with grant requirements and transparent in our communication.
  • Contributing to pooled funding for emergency needs with other regional foundations.
  • We have created an Economic Response Technical Assistance grant program.
  • We are in discussion now and hope to come up with some unique solutions that will aid organization during this difficult time.
  • Planning nonprofit summits and providing tactical consultant experts.
  • Since our organizations focuses on grassroot organizations, we are providing empowerment workshops in marketing and development to better equip our grantees with ways to increase their revenue.
  • Focusing on advocacy for increased public funding.
  • Stay tuned. We are working on some specialized services for the artists we serve.
  • We're in planning mode, will keep you posted.
  • The OR Arts Commission is launching a major technical assistance and capacity building effort to help our grantees operate more efficiently and successfully.
  • Providing more in-kind benefits.
  • We are ramping up communications about cuts, including live conference calls, web postings, etc. We are trying to keep things very transparent and immediate.
  • Special needs alerts to donors to give to human services/front line organizations providing food and shelter.
  • Making greater use of online communications tools. Making grants totaling more than 5% of assets.
  • We issued a letter to all grantees acknowledging the difficult economic times, and offering planning or technical assistance if needed.
  • Participating in conversations with them, but no specific measures.
  • Doing a monthly tracking survey of our constituents (*more than grantees), regular conference calls w/technical assistance, repurposing annual conference professional development, developing a crisis planning and management toolkit.
  • Convening grantees to speak to one another about how they are coping.
  • Touching base with all grantees to offer help as a sounding board and/or introducer.
  • We are going out to the communities/schools rather than having them come to us for meetings and workshops.
  • Will be focusing on connecting our grantees where ever we see possibilities for sharing insights or for collaborations.