Secretary G. Wayne Clough did have one thing to smile about this week. He reported that the Smithsonian, on the fund-raising front, had had its best December ever, bringing in $50 million.
And the rest of the year wasn't bad either. For the fiscal year 2010, which ended September 30, they raised $158 million. The previous year the tally was $126.6 million.
Helping the Smithsonian recover from the hit its private fund-raising and endowment took during the recent recession were several large gifts.
Documentarians, rejoice! The Ford Foundation on Tuesday announced a five-year plan to pour $50 million into documentaries -– defined broadly, including online-only efforts -– that are focused on social issues.
The Ford Foundation’s program, called JustFilms, will dole out money in three ways. The first involves partnerships with organizations like the Sundance Institute, whose Sundance Film Festival opens on Thursday in Park City, Utah. JustFilms will contribute $1 million a year over five years to support Sundance’s documentary film workshops, for instance.
Many charities are ”taking a fine-toothed comb to their program and looking to enhance revenue,” says Dana Hines, president of Membership Consultants, a St. Louis company that works with arts and cultural groups. To that end, she says, many groups in recent months have performed audits of their membership and other revenue-producing programs. Some organizations are raising the price of membership and other fees by 5 percent to 10 percent.
Artist-endowed foundations are a sleeping giant of philanthropy. They are rapidly expanding in number—close to 300 have been identified in the US at the last count—and financial strength, commanding approximately $2.7bn in combined assets. That’s a relatively modest sum next to the half a trillion dollars held in total by US foundations. But artist-endowed foundations are especially important in the art world.