Where Have Donnelley Foundation Grants Been Going Lately?

At Inside Philanthropy, we cover local giving in a number of places, and two of them are of exclusive interest of the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. In the recent past, Donnelley has made a splash on the film grantmaking scene in Chicago and the land preservation scene in the South Carolina Low Country.

Not long ago, this funder came out with its most recent round of grants to close the books on 2016. In 2016, it gave almost $4.8 million in grants directed at artistic vitality and regional collections, as well as land conservation. Let’s take a look at how these grants played out and where the funder’s evolving focus is at right now.  

Recent Chicago Giving

Hands down, the most Donnelley grants supported artistic vitality in Chicago. Of the 169 total artistic vitality grants awarded, 150 went to Chicago groups. Five of these Chicago grants were Cash Reserve Challenge Grants, which means they are part of a strategy developed two years ago to enable arts groups to establish and expand critical operating reserves for long-term health and stability. Chicago Artists Coalition, Experimental Sound Studio, Hypocrites, Silk Road Rising, and Steep Theatre Company received these particular arts grants.

Also in regards to arts in Chicago, Donnelley awarded five regional collections grants. This is a recently revised program strategy that focuses on at-risk collections, curatorial projects, and digitization efforts. The Lincoln Park Zoo received the largest of these grants ($61,000) to create a permanent home for the zoo’s archival collection. Other recipients in this category received $25,000 each.

Finally, in Chicago, Donnelley gave out 20 grants for land protection. Capacity building was the name of the game in this category, with the Wetlands Initiative and the Shirley Heinze Land Trust receiving major capacity building grants. This is also an area that Donnelley has been collaborating on. It recently partnered with the Grand Victoria Foundation based in Elgin and ArcelorMittal to make these multi-year grants and expand land protection and restoration work in the Chicagoland area.

Recent South Carolina Giving

Although Lowcountry giving pales in comparison to Chicago giving, it’s still significant because there are far fewer funders looking at this region. While far more arts grants tend to go to Chicago, land conservation grants are more evenly split between the two locations.

Nineteen artistic vitality grants were awarded to Lowcountry groups, but what’s significant here is that the funder has been willing to award general operating support to first-time grant recipients. Ballet Evolution, the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association, and the North Charleston POPS! all received operating support as first-time grantees. This indicates that the funder isn’t totally risk averse and is willing to look at new groups that aren’t necessarily on its radar yet.  Donnelley also gave five grants to regional art collections, the same number as in Chicago.

For land conservation, Donnelley awarded 15 grants to Lowcountry groups, and the focus here is on rural regions. For example, two project grants went to the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina to support the Resilient and Connected Landscapes mapping and the Rural Resource Coalition SC. With its endangered coastal location and the impending threat of climate change, we expect this area of Donnelley’s giving to remain strong and grow even stronger in the years ahead.

Prospective grant seekers should know that Donnelley Foundation 2017 proposal deadlines are March 31 and July 28.