General Support grants provide unrestricted funding for small to mid-sized arts organizations that produce and/or present full seasons of performances, exhibitions and arts events. The majority of activities must be open to the public, presented primarily at venues in the city of Columbus, include significant participation of professional artists and have an implementation plan outlined at time of submission.
Who is eligible to apply?
Applicants must meet ALL of the following criteria to apply for General Support.
- Registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is arts and culture with at least three-years of activity;
- Have an annual operating budget (three-year average) of under $500,000 (no minimum budget requirements);
- Organization must be able to provide three years of detailed Profit & Loss statements, the most recently completed Balance Sheet statement, the most recent 990 (if applicable) and complete a calculation sheet provided by GCAC.
- Present a full season of art activities for the public featuring paid, professional artists; at least 70% of the operational budget must be dedicated to the activities (this percentage cannot include fundraisers, public art, education/classes, youth programs or social service programs);
- At least 50% of public activities take place within the city of Columbus (check zoning here http://gis.columbus.gov/zoning/);
- Must have previously received at least one Project Support, General Support, or Operating Support grant from GCAC;
- Have a board of directors/trustees with a minimum of five members who are not paid staff.
Organizations who have not received General Support in the past must pre-qualify and receive approval to apply in the first year. To pre-qualify, send the following documents to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 15, 2024:
- Detailed final Profit & Loss statements (also known as: statement of activities, income and expense statement) for the past three years (2023, 2022, and 2021).
- Detailed Balance Sheet (also known as: Statement of Financial Position) for 2023. Please include 2023, 2022, and 2021 if available.
- Most recently filed 990
- Funding Calculation Sheet (click link to download)
What types of organizations are NOT eligible?
- Organizations with primary mission related to public art.
- Organizations with primary mission related to education or youth programs.
- Organizations with primary mission related to arts therapy.
- Social service organizations (even those who have arts programming as a part of the organization).
NOTE: If you are unsure if your organization meets the eligibility requirements, please contact McKenzi Swinehart at email@example.com, before starting the application.
How are awards calculated?
Award amount received will be based on the organization’s three-year adjusted revenue, committee score and applied percentages. Award amounts are contingent upon funds available.
How often can we apply? Can we apply for other organizational grants?
Applicants can receive one General Support award per calendar year. Organizations receiving General Support cannot apply for Operating or Project Support.
|Financials Due for Pre-Qualification
|February 15th, 2024
|March 1st, 2024
|April 1st, 2024
|June 20th, 2024
|Fiscal Year (FY) Report Due
|105 days after organization's Fiscal Year End
|Final Report Due
|August 5th, 2025
Application Questions & Uploads
What are the application questions?
Below you will find the current narrative and short-answer questions to assist you in your preparation.
SUMMARY: ORGANIZATION OVERVIEW
- Describe your organization’s upcoming activities for the next year. Write as if the person reading the application knows nothing about your regular programming. Include details on the types of activities and programs, plus any changes you are anticipating in the coming year.
- Upload a schedule of art activities/events for the public featuring paid, professional artists with dates and locations (do not include rehearsals/preparations, educational activities, or fundraisers). For example, most activities will be exhibits, performances, festivals or art events. Tentative plans are acceptable.
- Projected total public attendees for all public activities (do not include participating artists or volunteers).
- Projected number of artists employed (full-time, part-time, contract, stipend).
- Out of the artists paid, list number of artists paid residing in Franklin County.
- How many volunteers participate in the planning and execution of the season?
- How many volunteer hours will be donated (approximate)?
The following checklist is designed to gauge the overall health of arts organizations in our region. It is not expected that every organization have each policy or tool in place. GCAC will continue to review how we can strengthen arts nonprofits governance through workshops, consultants, and funding programs.
Please note the tools that your organization currently has in place, along with any that are in progress:
|Crisis communication plan
|Board nomination process
|Risk management assessment/plan
|Board orientation & training
|Separation of duties policy
|Board term limits
|Emergency response plan
|Staff and Board Evaluations
|Capital maintenance schedule
|Gift acceptance policy
|Code of Conduct policy
|Whistle blower policy
|Conflict of Interest policy
SECTION 1: ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP & PLANNING
- Size of Board of Directors/Trustees
- List of three organizational goals for the upcoming 12 months. These can be financial, artistic, programmatic, strategic, structural, or policy goals.
- What are your plans to strengthen and/or sustain your financial position?
- How is the workload managed in your organization? Share how you utilize staff, contractors, and volunteers to fulfill your mission.
- How does your organization provide care and rest to workers and volunteers? Do you have a succession plan for key positions? How do you train/onboard new workers/volunteers?
SECTION 2: COMMITMENT TO INCLUSION, DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND ACCESS (I.D.E.A.)
- What specific efforts demonstrate your commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access? How do you engage with, listen to and empower voices from historically-marginalized groups?
- How else do you engage with the broad community? Talk about your partnerships and collaborations, outreach to neighborhoods, community activism, etc.
SECTION 3: ARTISTIC INNOVATION & ARTIST ENGAGEMENT
- What artistic risks are you taking this year? How are you innovating your activities and programs? What’s new since last year?
- Talk about the professional artists you will hire for next year. How do you engage with and employ local artists? How else do you support artists outside of compensation?
SECTION 4: DEMOGRAPHIC DATA
Basic demographic information is collected as part of the grant application process. Organizations are required to report on the demographics of their staff and board of directors. We view date collection as an essential tool to our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
What are the required Supplemental Materials (uploads)?
All support materials must be uploaded digitally to the online application system. The financial documents that you provided during the pre-qualification process will also be reviewed and scored as part of the application.
Mandatory Supplemental Materials:
- Current board list, with business affiliations
- Current staff list, if applicable
Optional Supplemental Materials (include if available and relevant):
- Strategic Plan
- Marketing plan and/or marketing samples
- Links to current or past media coverage
- Artistic work sample materials
- Evaluation tool example and past evaluation/survey results
After Submitting – Reviews & Scoring
Following the deadline, applications and supplemental materials will be reviewed by Grants & Community Engagement staff members to make sure the application is complete and meets eligibility. Staff will complete an initial draft score of the application based on the scoring section below.
Evaluation, scoring and voting
Grants are reviewed, evaluated and scored by the Creative Advancement Committee and later presented to the GCAC Board of Trustees for approval. Applications will be assessed in three categories for a maximum of 100 points (applications receiving scores of 60 or under receive no funding):
- Financial Management– up to 35 points
- Organizational Leadership & Planning – up to 25 points
- Commitment to I.D.E.A – up to 20 points
- Artistic Innovation & Artist Engagement – up to 20 points
Grant approvals are based on evaluations and available funding. Following a vote from the GCAC Board of Trustees, applicants will be notified by email of the application award status (approved, approved with contingencies, or declined). Emails are sent to the primary grant contact and the authorizing official, as listed in the online application system organizational profile. You will receive reviewer/committee notes and a score in the notification email.
After Awarded – Contracts, Payments, Reporting
Following the approval of a grant, a grant agreement specifying the terms of the grant will be available in the online application portal by clicking the “Contracts to Complete” button. To accept the award, review the grant agreement and digitally sign by the date indicated. No major changes can then occur, either in activities, key leadership or finances, without prior written approval from GCAC. Failure to properly notify and/or obtain approval could result in the cancellation of the remaining grant.
Grantees will receive quarterly payments to take place on the following dates, after the Grant Agreement has been signed:
- June 30, 2024
- September 30, 2024
- December 30, 2024
- March 30, 2025
For faster and dependable delivery, all payments will be issued through ACH Direct Deposit. To set up, banking information is collected (or updated with changes) as part of the grant agreement and is stored securely.
Grantee Follow-up Meetings and On-Site Visits
General Support grantees will have a scheduled meeting with GCAC staff and trustees, when available, within six months of the award date. This meeting is intended to be an open dialogue between grantee and funder. The organization will have the opportunity to update GCAC on exciting news, changes in the organization and challenges. From time to time, staff and Board members may conduct on-site visits to General Support recipients to better assess the impact of the grant awards.
Organizations should be prepared to make available up to four complimentary tickets for all performances, exhibits or events funded at the request of the Grants & Community Engagement department so that staff or trustees can experience your programming live and to become better advocates for the arts in Columbus.
General Support recipients have a multi-step standard reporting process driven by the organization’s fiscal year and the term of GCAC grant agreement. All reporting is submitted through the online application system portal, under the “Reports to Complete” section.
Fiscal Year (FY) Reports are due 105 days after your organization’s fiscal year end. You will find this in the online application system. Log in, click on the “Reports to Complete” section, and there is a button to open the FY Report.
- Upload your new Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statements for the recently completed fiscal year;
- Complete and upload a new Funding Calculation Sheet
Final Reports are due August 5th, annually.
- Failure to submit a final report within 90 days of the due date may result in the cancellation of the remaining grant amount.
Extensions may be requested in writing before the report due date. Overdue or incomplete reports may affect eligibility and impact grant awards in future applications.
General Support Recipient Expectations
The Grants & Community Engagement staff monitors General Support recipients and provides notification if the organization’s continued participation appears to be in jeopardy. An organizations’ sustainability is deemed vulnerable or at risk due to financial, board or leadership mismanagement or misconduct. However, with the recommendation of the Creative Advancement Committee, the GCAC Board reserves the authority to terminate or extend an organization’s participation at any time.
Once you are awarded, say “Thanks!” in a public way. GCAC requires that all organizations and artists receiving funding demonstrate the public value of the arts by making others aware of awards received and acknowledging public funders.
General Support recipients should credit GCAC broadly for ALL of the activities of the organization on an on-going basis. This includes acknowledgement utilizing all channels available, such as: website, social media, press releases, print materials, curtain speeches, special events, e-newsletters, on-location signage and on specific exhibition or projects within a given year. Refer to APPENDIX A for more details of the contractual publicity requirements.