Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Provides Support to Help Arts Groups Survive Recession

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Provides Support to Help Arts Groups Survive Recession

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced two new approaches to its grantmaking designed to help performing arts organizations sustain their work in the short term so that they can continue to plan for the long term.

As part of its arts program, DDCF typically awards large grants to intermediary organizations, which in turn re-grant funds to individual artists and arts organizations. For the next three years, however, the foundation will award an additional $2.5 million in unrestricted operating support through eight national initiatives to the nonprofits that receive re-grants. The recipients will automatically receive the funds without additional reporting requirements or needing to re-apply. DDCF will also allow organizations to use up to a third of the grant funds awarded prior to 2009 for core operational needs.

In addition, the foundation announced a new policy that allows its president to make administrative amendments to existing endowment grants, such as relaxing annual payout requirements or harmonizing endowment payout schedules with an organization's investment policies. To date, three grantees have requested and been approved for revisions to the terms of their grants. Further, the foundation has developed a process through which grantees can explore repurposing their endowments for other uses.

While it is unusual for a foundation to renegotiate a grant agreement, sixteen of the seventy-nine grantmakers responding to a recent survey conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy indicated that they had invited their grantees to do so, the New York Times reports. Last year, for example, the James Irvine Foundation sent a letter to roughly three hundred grantees in which it offered more flexibile terms on grants it had awarded, resulting in adjustments for roughly 10 percent of its grantees.

"It's a minority of foundations, still," CEP president Phil Buchanan told the Times. "But it's encouraging to see that some are seeking to be as flexible as they can."

Stephanie Strom. "Charities Loosening Strings on Arts Grants." New York Times 06/04/2009. "Providing Flexible and Responsive Support for the Performing Arts." Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Press Release 06/03/2009.