National Capitalization Project


Grantmakers in the Arts offers Conversations on Capitalization and Community, a daylong workshop for local funders on the financial health of their arts community and the role of funders in its stabilization. Since 2012, workshops have been held in Philadelphia; Menlo Park, CA; Oakland; Seattle; Lansing, MI; Minneapolis; Houston; Los Angeles; Portland, OR; Boston; Atlanta; New York; Chicago; Pittsburgh and New Haven, CT. The workshop develops a common vocabulary about capitalization, its universal application for financial health of the nonprofit arts sector and places all discussions within the local marketplace. Each discussion is grounded in the realities of the local eco-system and reveals how funders can change their policies and practice to have more candid discussions about finances with their constituents. Evaluations by grantmakers who have attended are outstanding. Conversations were designed and are facilitated by senior consultants from TDC, Boston, and Nonprofit Finance Fund, New York City, with advise from National Arts Strategies. GIA staff is in attendance at all workshops. A Conversation on Capitalization and Community can be scheduled for 2014 or 2015 by contacting Janet Brown or SuJ'n Chon at Grantmakers in the Arts.

In January of 2010, Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) launched its National Capitalization Project. Formed in response to the observation that it has been the norm for the nonprofit arts sector to be poorly capitalized, the project convened representatives from 16 regional and national funders of the arts (some of whom had been in conversations about capitalization for nearly two years before convening), five subject experts and GIA staff in two intensive working sessions to learn together, and to begin a conversation about what funders might do individually and collectively to address this long-standing condition. The first of these sessions was held at the Ford Foundation in April 2010 and the second at the Hewlett Foundation in July 2010. Following are the reports from this work.

Progress Report on GIA’s National Capitalization Project (.pdf, 316 Kb) (2014).
Helicon Collaborative was commissioned to help Grantmakers in the Arts understand the value of its local funder workshops presented in 2012 and 2013 and other GIA programs activities since we began our focus on capitulation in 2010. The results are a progress report on this continuing work.

Critical Steps Toward Capital Health in the Cultural Sector (.pdf, 61 Kb) (2014).
A Capitalization tip-sheet authored by Rebecca Thomas, Nonprofit Finance Fund, and Holly Sidford, Helicon Collaborative.

National Capitalization Summary (.pdf, 399 Kb) (2010).
Summary and conclusion of convenings including a “set of common practices” agreed upon by Project participants that could, if implemented by funders, improve the financial stability of the nonprofit arts sector.

Capitalization Literature Review (.pdf, 525 Kb) (2010).
Discussion was informed by a comprehensive literature review on the subject of capitalization compiled by TDC, Boston.

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Nonprofit Finance Fund Publishes Capitalization Research

Nonprofit Finance Fund has published a new series on the need for and uses of capital in the arts. The materials convey stories and lessons learned from NFF’s $15 million Leading for the Future Initiative, the first national Initiative to deploy a specific kind of investment – change capital – to help arts organizations adapt their programming, operations and finances to thrive in a changed and changing economic and cultural landscape.

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