Janet's blog

Challenges to Solve and Values to Express

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together:

Over the past few years, Grantmakers in the Arts has identified four content areas that reflect core values and are the basis for much of our work. They are:

  • Arts education
  • Racial equity in philanthropy
  • Financial health of the nonprofit arts sector (capitalization)
  • Support for individual artists
The Data that Drives Us…Or Not

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

The phrase “data-driven decision-making” has become popular with funders.  What decisions are being made based on data and how relevant is the data being collected?  Does the data reflect the reality in which we each work and how does it inform our actions? Does data merely answer questions of how funding proved successful based on outcomes, or does it inform how funders should be changing their portfolios, application guidelines and goals based on the successes or failures of the nonprofit arts field? These are the challenges for researchers and practitioners.

Either-Or is Harmful to Charities and Society

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

Peter Singer’s Sunday, August 11 New York Times opinion piece entitled “Good Charity, Bad Charity” was a shocker. One would expect something a bit more far-reaching and not quite so simplistic from a bioethicist.

Race Peace: An Opportunity for Grantmakers (White People Encouraged To Attend)

By Janet Brown, from her blog Better Together:

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) initiated discussions among a group of social justice funders a year ago in an effort to begin to understand structural racism and to analyze how institutionalized racism may affect arts philanthropy.

Don't Do Your Organization Any Favors

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

I toured Europe for a year in the 80s as general manager of an American musical. It was a crazy tour with a less than experienced producer. I actually encouraged him several times to shut down the tour because we had gaps between bookings and were continually getting advances from future dates to pay current salaries. But, he was the boss and the tour continued. Along the way, I ended up using my own salary (and the production stage manager’s) to keep the company afloat. I left the tour with the producer owing me several thousand dollars. Does this sound like a financially healthy business to you? It wasn’t.

The Overhead Dance: Transparency Part II

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

In my early years as an arts administrator, I remember thinking it was best to keep grant applications simple in order to limit the questions that granters might have. One line I always left blank was “indirect costs.” I did this because it just seemed a good idea to make the application financials less complicated. But how wrong I was.

Nonprofit Transparency - Often Opaque

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

“Relevance” and “transparency” are two words I use frequently when talking with staff or board members of grantmaking and nonprofit arts organizations. Both are core values needed to foster arts participation in our communities and prosperity for artists and our organizations. This blog focuses on transparency...financial transparency.

The Intersection of Creativity, Health, and Aging

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

On May 1st, I attended a daylong gathering in Washington DC entitled Innovative Crossroads: The Intersection of Creativity, Health and Aging. Supported by MetLife Foundation in collaboration with the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), the day was hosted by Grantmakers in Health (GIH) and included health funders as well as members of Grantmakers in the Arts and Grantmakers in Aging. This is a continuation of GIArts work begun with a Thought Leader Forum on Aging a few years ago and collaborative regional workshops planned in conjunction with GIAging and NCCA.

Making a Profit for Nonprofits

From Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

Grantmakers in the Arts is in the midst of presenting Conversations on Capitalization and Community in five cities over two months so my mind is a bit warped with an excess of nonprofit financial health talk. Making a profit for nonprofits isn’t easy because we fight public perceptions that we should have no profits, funding criteria that punishes profit and a professional norm that encourages any profit be spent on making the product of the nonprofit better.

Understanding and Undoing Structural Racism

By Janet Brown from her blog Better Together

My first year at GIA was 2009. When I travelled the country to meet members and learn about their work, I was surprised by my conversations with most private funders. These funders said their work was different from others because they were focused on small organizations; African, Latino(a), Asian, and Native American (ALANA) organizations, artists or communities; issues of equity; and the changing demographics in their communities.