loading social feeds...


Sign up to receive email updates about programs and initiatives of the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

Learn more about how we use this data in our Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time.

How To Apply for a Chicago Artistic Vitality General Operations Grant

We provide general operations grants and an array of other kinds of support to help our arts partners sustain their artistry and strengthen their operations.

Returning Grantees


New Applicants


  • You must be a 501(c)(3) public charity. We do not make grants through fiscal sponsors or agents.
  • You must have completed at least one full fiscal year of operations before applying.
  • Your organization’s total annual expenses must be under $1 million.
  • You must demonstrate or strongly promise artistic vitality. Determining artistic vitality is inherently subjective. We take into account how much programming an organization offers and the degree of professionalism, factoring in the artistic discipline, budget size and where an organization happens to be in its evolution.


The following are not eligible:

  • Individuals.
  • Organizations primarily focused on arts education or social service.
  • Amateur or community arts groups.
  • Presenting organizations.
  • Groups that are legally, financially, or operationally part of a larger institution, e.g. the art department of a college.
  • Religious activities, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying.
  • Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos.
  • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction.


Before you Apply:

  • We strongly encourage eligible organizations to attend one of our Meet GDDF meetings. Our next Meet GDDF is TBD. For proposal questions, please contact Clover Morell, Program Associate.
  • We must see your work before we can consider a grant, so please contact us as soon as you know your performance schedule and let us know that you're planning to apply (contact info is below).
  • Start working on your DataArts (formerly Cultural Data Project) profile.
  • If you're an arts service organization or technical assistance provider that we haven't previously funded, please contact Ellen Wadey before starting an application.


Your complete proposal must be submitted online by 11:59pm Central Time on
- March 29, 2019 for review at our July 2019 board meeting
- July 26, 2019 for review at our November 2019 board meeting

It takes about four months from grant application deadline through board decision. After the board meeting, you'll hear from us within a couple weeks.


Grant Amounts

Organizations are eligible for grant amounts based on annual expenses for the most recently-completed calendar or fiscal year:


Annual Expenses Grant Amount
Up to $25,000* $2,000
$25,000-$50,000 $3,500
$50,000-$100,000 $5,500
$100,000-$200,000 $6,500
$200,000-$300,000 $7,500
$300,000-$500,000 $8,500
$500,000-$750,000 $9,500
$750,000-$1,000,000 $10,500

*For organizations with annual expenditures under $25,000, in addition to the eligibility requirements listed above, you must have received your 501(c)(3) designation within the past five years. If awarded a gen ops grant, you must also participate in our Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) Program. Groups may receive up to three gen ops grants at this funding level, after which those groups whose annual expenses exceed $25,000 may be eligible for continued gen ops support. For more information, please contact Ellen Wadey.


Should you receive a grant, you will be required to submit annual reports. Deadlines are included in your grant award letter (sent via email). You can access and submit all reports and requirements via your online account, approximately six weeks before they are due: https://www.grantrequest.com/SID_879/ If you're planning to submit a new proposal, please submit a report on your current or last grant, even if your current grant is still in process. Please contact us with any questions.


If you have questions about Gen Ops Plus, please contact our Chicago Program Officer Ellen Wadey at 312.977.2707.

If you have questions about the grant application process, please contact our Program Associate Clover Morell at 312.977.2700.