Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development: Core Grants

Chicago Community Trust

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Grant amount: Up to US $15,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Cook County, Illinois

Location of residency: Cook County, Illinois

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About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary


The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development is a funder collaborative created to help strengthen the management and operations of small arts and cultural organizations in Chicago and Cook County.

Core Grants

We believe that when arts organizations have the necessary resources to build infrastructure – including information technology, financial systems, marketing and audience development strategies, fundraising, operating processes, strategic plans and volunteer leadership–they are more likely to succeed than those that do not.

Grants of up to $15,000 are made to arts and cultural organizations with operating expenses between $50,000 and $800,000 to support organizational development efforts. Grants enable organizations to hire consultants to help the board and staff accomplish work that requires time, energy, expertise, and innovative thinking beyond everyday operations. We look for projects tailored specifically to the needs of organization receiving the award. We are interested in applicants’ analysis of the state of their organizations and what’s needed to continue to strengthen and sustain them. The Fund will add 10 percent to each grant to support the organizational costs associated with the capacity building project.

Organizational development is an evolving process. Funded organizations can apply for additional support upon completion of their currently funded project. There are no limits on the number of grants an organization can receive in a given year. Organizations are welcome to contact the Arts Work Fund prior to applying to discuss their ideas. Receiving a grant from the Arts Work Fund does not impact an organization’s ability to apply separately to funders that are members of the Arts Work Fund collaborative.

Examples of projects eligible for funding, include, but are not limited to:

  • Restructuring for new demands and new ways of doing business
  • Increasing resources
  • Improving structures and systems
  • Exploring mergers, joint ventures, and collaborations
  • Business or strategic planning to steer through changes
  • Researching and testing new ways to engage and reach audiences
  • Assessing marketing capacity and planning future marketing strategies
  • Identifying ways to diversify and/or increase earned revenue
  • Developing/refining financial systems and processes
  • Analyzing short- and long-term sustainability of the organization’s operating model
  • Improving efficiency through development of new working processes or systems

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible applicants must fit the following criteria:
    • A mission focused on presenting, producing, or providing arts programming and/or on serving artists or small arts and cultural organizations;
    • A three-year operating history after incorporation as an Illinois nonprofit;
    • A current IRS 501(c) (3) public charity designation determination letter;
    • Annual operating expenses between $50,000 and $800,000, as reflected in the most recently filed I.R.S. Form 990 or audit;
    • At least one paid part-time staff and five board members;
    • Located in and serving Cook Country.
    • If a former Arts Work Fund grant recipient, must have submitted a final report for previous grant activities.
  • Eligible Costs:
    • Capacity-building funding requests may include project-related costs (for example, marketing materials, website development, or technology upgrades) in addition to consultant fees.
    • Full project costs will be considered for funding, and no matching funds are required. 


  • However, these grants will not cover staff time or overhead costs.
    • The Arts Work Funds will automatically add 10% to the project costs to support staff time and overhead.
  • Ineligible Costs:
    • Program expenses;
    • Debt retirement;
    • Endowments, capital campaigns;
    • Lobbying activities;
    • Staff salaries,
    • Purchase of computers, software, equipment, furnishing;
    • Website and database upgrades
    • Annual audits;
    • Conference/workshop fees;
    • Printing/general material costs;
    • Reimbursement for work completed prior to a grant award.