Regional Collections Grant

Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

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Grant amount: US $3,500 - US $150,000

Next deadline: Mar 27, 2020 9:59pm PDT

Later deadlines: Jul 31, 2020 9:59pm PDT

Applicant type: Museum/Library/Zoo Nonprofit

Funding uses: Exhibitions, Project / Program

Location of project: Counties in Illinois: Cook County, DuPage County, Grundy County, Kane County, Kendall County Show all

Location of residency: Counties in Illinois: Cook County, DuPage County, Grundy County, Kane County, Kendall County Show all

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About this funder:



NOTE: Before applying for a grant, please call us to discuss your project. We can provide guidance as to the potential fit with the Foundation’s guidelines, and answer any questions you may have before sending you a link to our online application form. 

Regionally-Focused Collections

We offer grants to support increased public access to collections that illuminate the unique culture, history and heritage of the Chicago region or the Lowcountry of South Carolina. We have particular interest in at-risk collections, creative interpretation of collections, and helping organizations expand support for digitization efforts.

Regionally-focused collections – including documents, books, maps, photographs and artifacts – help us understand who we are and how the places where we live came to be. The information gleaned from collections can be important, too, for guiding future decisions about culture and place. Having easy and engaging access to collections of art, artifacts, letters, photographs, manuscripts and maps is vital for historians, artists and the general public alike.

We focus our grants in three distinct project areas:

At-risk Collections:

The Foundation offers project grants to organizations to preserve at-risk collections. At-risk collections include orphan collections (those being deaccessioned with no identified future home), those in private hands (proverbial ones in basements, attics and forgotten storerooms), collections held by organizations with limited capacities, and occasionally collections within larger institutions.

For at-risk collections, the Foundation supports a range of projects, from stabilization, to restoration, to archival processing.

Grants for at-risk collections vary in size, depending on several factors.

Creative Interpretation:

The Foundation offers project planning grants for institutions to work with artists, curators, historians and other creatives to engage audiences in new, dynamic ways; that push the envelope of presentation and interpretation; that go beyond the typical array of exhibits and exhibitions in drawing attention to collections of exceptional regional significance.

Institutions that receive planning grants may be eligible in the future for partial funding support to implement projects of exceptional promise.

Planning grants may be up to $25,000.


The Foundation offers challenge grants for digitization projects of the highest value, regionally-focused collections. A higher priority will be placed on those digitized collections that can be made available through one of the regional digital portals: Lowcountry Digital Library (College of Charleston), EXPLORE Chicago Collections (Chicago Collections Consortium) or the Community Collections Portal (Chicago Cultural Alliance.)

The purpose of challenge grants, beyond supporting expanded public accessibility, is to help institutions build a stronger base of support for stewarding its collections long-term.

Organizations may apply for a maximum of three challenge grants, provided they demonstrate progress toward building and sustaining long-term support.

Grants for digitizing collections vary in size, depending on several factors.

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


  • As noted previously, all projects must be regionally focused and lead toward increased public access. 
  • To be eligible for a grant: 
    • You must be a 501(c)(3) public charity.
    • You must have completed at least one full fiscal year of operations before applying.
    • Chicago region organizations must be current with their DataArts profile (formerly the Cultural Data Project).
    • A technology plan is in place or in development.
    • A letter of agreement is secured from any partner organizations.


  • Additional criteria we consider in making our grant decisions include:
    • Uniqueness of collection
    • Size of collection
    • Demand for access
    • Capacity/stability of applicant organization


  • We do not make collections grants through fiscal sponsors or agents.
  • The following are not eligible:
    • Individuals.
    • Religious activities, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying.
    • Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos.
    • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction.