WHERE DO THE GRANTS GO? HOW NEW YORK CITY’S INDEPENDENT FOUNDATIONS EVALUATE GRANT APPLICATIONS FROM NON-PROFIT PERFORMING ARTS ORGANIZATIONS
By: Yunya Xuan
Published: 05/2016
Uploaded: 04/29/2016
Uploaded by: Arts Administration Program
Pockets: Arts Administration, Arts Administration Program Theses (Permission Required), Dance, Development, Philanthropy
Tags: Evaluation, Foundations, Grants, Non-profit, Performing arts

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Description/Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to gain an in-depth understanding of the parties involved and processes employed in New York City’s independent foundations when evaluating grant applications from performing arts non-profits. Special emphasis is placed on analyzing the characteristics foundations look for in prospective grantees, and how these are weighed against each other. Through a combination of literature review and in-person interviews with seven representatives of New York City foundations, it is found that the evaluation process is divided into five stages: reception, preliminary filtering, in-depth application evaluation, selection of finalists, and final grantee decision. The early stages involve administrative staff and a dedicated evaluation team, while the final grant decision is governed by a foundation’s board members and executive staff. The results of the evaluation process are determined by two factors: ranking and preference. Ranking factors include the applicant’s financial well-being, leadership competence, and basic performance, and are positively related to the organization's initial ranking in the applicant pool. Preference factors include the grant’s term, amount, and the type of activity it will support. Preference factors reflect the idiosyncrasies of individual foundations, and can be identified through review of a foundation's prior giving pattern. This thesis culminates in an analysis of how performing arts non-profits can apply this research to improve their chances of receiving a grant from New York City’s foundations, illustrated by a brief comparison of the grant preferences of the Mertz Gilmore and Doris Duke foundations.