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Funding Community Engagement

How can you find or create the funding to undertake community engagement activities?  Once you make the organizational commitment, staff and volunteers will be investing “sweat equity” to build relationships in the community, but eventually, you will need to invest in artists and other expenses to undertake your activity. As you gain experience – after a project or two – you can use the documentation of the previous projects to introduce new potential funders to your organization and this activity, but in the short term, you may need to make a modest investment from your operating budget.  

Make a commitment of 10%
When working on developing your annual programming budget, consider investing 10% of your budget to a new budget line called Community Engagement.  It is highly likely that this budget can make the modest adjustments required to deal with a ”10% cut” but that modest amount can get you started. 

Add $1.00 per ticket (or $2.00)
Increase your ticket prices for your events by $1.00 or $2.00 and dedicate those resources to community engagement. Be sure to print this information wherever you list your ticket prices.  E.G. “Your ticket price includes G.S.T of 12% and a $2.00 surcharge to support community engagement initiatives that bring the arts into the lives of underserved people in our community.”   

Replace a show 

What about thinking of your community engagement activity as the equivalent of what you spend on a presented event during the year?  If you regularly do seven events but do six instead, the financial expense of that seventh show could be a pool of money that could be put to work in community engagement.  

Seek new funding sources 

In many communities, health and social service agencies have some dedicated resources for utilizing the arts to illuminate issues among their constituencies. Your partner organization may have some ideas of where funding could be secured for this partnership. And there are several initiatives for funding underway.  

Foundations and Government agencies that are currently committed to funding community engagement:

Engage other organizations in the community for in-kind
If you need a regular space to meet, a local church might be willing to loan a meeting room for the ongoing work in the community. Or a local business or business association might have a meeting room they would be willing to let you use for this valuable community work.  Once you have built your budget, see if there are expenses that other friends of your organization might be willing to donate.  


Judith Marcuse


Dance Across The North


Crazy Smooth - Bboyizm

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