Oregon Arts Commission Featured by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

How the Oregon Arts Commission developed a small operating grants pilot program to diversify its grantmaking and offer more equitable and inclusive funding to organizations it wouldn’t normally reach


While developing its strategic plan for 2015-2020, the Oregon Arts Commission convened nonprofits and community stakeholders on a 14 city listening tour to find out more about the needs and challenges throughout Oregon.  The meetings took place in both rural and urban areas over about six months.  A direct outcome of the listening sessions is the Oregon Arts Commission’s small operating grants pilot program. 

OAC used the information it collected during the listening sessions to shift its programming and resources to move closer to the goals of stimulating opportunities to pursue learning in and through the arts, as well as improving its own efficiency and effectiveness to better serve artists, arts organizations and client agencies. OAC established its two-year pilot program in 2015 to provide operating support for locally-based arts organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $150,000. One of the program’s goals is to make it easier and less time consuming for organizations to access and apply for operating support. The impetus for the small operating grants pilot program came about through listening to nonprofits, a commitment to provide the types of support nonprofits need most and a desire to reduce the burden on grantees. 

Story excerpted from GEO’s December 2016 Member Story.