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June 3, 2011

What to do when your project budget is $4000 and you just got a grant to fund it…. for only $1200?  In my last blog, I left you with this “cliffhanger.”

Here is the answer:  it turns out that Pamela was asleep all along: it was all a dream and Bobby is still alive!

Oh, wait, that’s the answer to a different cliffhanger altogether.

My cliffhanger was resolved a lot more pragmatically.

I did what I always do when faced with a predicament, from how long to bake a potato to  raising $2800–I googled: searching every possible combination of words and phrases; every description and potential spellings of me and my project that could lead me to sources of money. (“woman women theatre theater rural PA Pennsylvania improv improvisation kids children grant grants” was my favorite)

And I found many possibilities.  Though the world of grant making is no doubt competitive, there are a lot of people and organizations out there who are looking for a good project to fund.

But who the heck was I? An individual theatre artist; though trained and with a full resume of European and New York credits, I didn’t have a lot to show in project management. I didn’t have a board of directors or a theatre company to back me up  or a CFO who would vouch for my ability to use funds constructively. How could these potential backers know that I wouldn’t just take their money and make a run for Mexico?

And, as I found out, many of my potential funders wouldn’t even consider my project unless I was a registered a non-profit organization.

A non-profit: yikes! Boards and tax forms and all kind of requirements that I had neither the time nor the inclination to do.  But then I found, The Field (after googling something along the lines of “how the *$&^% do you get non-profit status easily”)

The Field (and, as I found out later, several other arts organizations in New York) has a program called, “Fiscal Sponsorship.”  It basically gives individual artists a non-profit status under their “umbrella.”  You have to apply, pay a small fee and agree to several terms with regards to how you present yourself to funders and track your income. But upon entering into this relationship with The Field, you can apply for grants as a not-for-profit artist.   It’s a fantastic program. But beyond the financial incentives, Fiscal Sponsorship with The Field give you access to professionals in the fundraising field, who can help you craft your grant applications and donation request letters. It definitely made this Granted Actor feel less alone when navigating the big-bad fundraising world.

So as a fiscally sponsored artist, with 501c3 status under The Field, I could now apply for a whole new range of grants.  But as a newbie in the grant world, I started small: applying to funders in the local area where I would be presenting my improv program.  And that’s when things really started to happen.  It turns out that my original grant, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts had some sway. After all, if the state was willing to back my project, private grant-giving bodies seemed to think it had some merit.  I quickly secured another $1200 from a community foundation in the area, then another $1000 from a private family foundation, and finally another $600 in private donations from individuals…  Voila! Project funded.

And thank goodness Ewing Oil didn’t really explode. But I still don’t get how Bobby stayed dead on Knots Landing. Anyone?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2011 9:41 am

    Thanks for the info about The Field. My delicious bookmarks are happier today than they were yesterday. =)

    • June 3, 2011 4:04 pm

      Agreed! The Field sounds like a fantastic organization; I had no idea anything like that even existed! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • June 3, 2011 9:06 pm

      Yep! The Field is amazing, and Fractured Atlas is also an option for organizations looking for fiscal sponsorship.

  2. June 3, 2011 9:07 pm

    Brava, Tara! I am so thrilled you were able to raise that money, and in such a resourceful way. And thanks for sharing these ideas with us.

    PS: It was wonderful to meet you in person today!

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