Monday, March 24, 2014

Favorite OOB Funding Resources

We are all, always trying to raise funds. Whether it is through personal appeals, crowdfunding, grants, sponsorship or fundraisers, it may even seem as though the majority of our time is spent trying to get enough money in the bank to pay for a down payment on our next performance space. We can't make it any easier, but we can share some of our favorite funding resources.

Off-Off-Broadway is a perfect platform for these crowd sourcing sites which focus on short-term, project-based collaborative goals, such as an OOB production. It is an easy way to leverage your social circles and social media presence. The idea is that everyone gives a little and soon the project is fully funded. The two biggest and most used sites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Kickstarter was one of the first to pioneer the crowdfunding model and is one of most successful.  It focuses on the arts and creative endeavors (and gaming and technology). It has the largest user base, which means that your project may pick up additional supporters or attention even beyond your distribution circles. It is also a popular and highly trusted site and many potential donors already have accounts set up. However, as Sally Outlaw of Entrepreneur notes, "Kickstarter 'curates' its projects, meaning it has a rigorous submission process, and if you aren't approved to post, it can be quite disappointing." One other point of interest, which may be a perk or a pain depending on how you look at it; if you don't reach your funding goal, you don't receive your pledged funds. On one hand a funder knows that they are only giving money to projects that are capable of reaching their goals, which may encourage tentative donors. On the other hand..... "ARGGGGG! fundraising is hard and we need every cent we can get our hands on. Please don't take it away from us when we've worked so hard......."

Indiegogo is "available to anyone, anywhere, to raise money for anything." Which means that it is available to help fund OOB productions as well as personal projects. While it does not boast the same reach as Kickstarter, it is still a very popular and well known site. Because it is smaller, it is actually easier for OOB projects to be featured and garner more attention. Indiegogo also offers options on how you set your funding goals; flexible or fixed. With the flexible model, you get all of your pledged funds, but Indiegogo takes a higher percentage of those donations. With the fixed model, again, you only get your pledged funds if you reach your goal and Indiegogo takes a much lower percentage.

Other Crowdfunding Sites:

GoFundMe -
GoGetFunding -
MoolaHoop -

Having trouble deciding which crowdfunding site would work best for you?  Here is an article  that looks at 22 such sites and thorough a pretty great diagram helps you decide which one is right for you.

Grant Search Sites
If you are searching for grants there are a number of sites that help you filter and find grants that are appropriate for your project.

Foundation Center
The Foundation Center offers information about 550 foundations and has the most comprehensive grants database in the U.S. They also offer research and training programs designed to help the applicants create more effective applications and better identify those grants that are applicable to them.
This is a centralized list of over 1,000 national government grant programs. You can filter and search grants, complete and submit uniformed grant applications online and follow up on the process.

GrantVine is a searchable grant database that was designed by development professionals. In addition to having access to their database, there is also an option for customized research where one of GrantVine's trained experts "wades through numerous databases, books and resources, as well as the current federal, state and local competition announcements, in order to provide you with the most up-to-date opportunities."

Funding Agencies

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
The NEA is an independent agency of the federal government that awards grants to artists and arts organizations. The NEA is "dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education."

New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)
NYSCA is New York state's arts funding council. They award over 2,700 grants each year and are "dedicated to preserving and expanding the rich and diverse cultural resources that are and will become the heritage of new York's citizens."

Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA)
"The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City's vibrant cultural life. Among our primary missions is to ensure adequate public funding for non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, throughout the five boroughs."

And of course, you could always apply for the Caffe Cino Fellowship Award, which includes a grant.   : )

Do you have a favorite funding resource that we missed?  PLEASE let us know.

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