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Cash Reserves Build Artistic Vitality

Running a small arts organization on a tight budget may make a rainy day fund seem impossible, but not planning for a cash reserve could cost more than you realize. To help our Chicago arts grantees understand the value of cash reserves, GDDF—in partnership with six foundation colleagues and Donors Forum–brought Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) to Chicago this September to present the workshop: Conversations with Non-Profits on Capitalization and Community. We crossed our fingers that 50 people would show up to the two workshops. Within ten days, we had to expand registration for each workshop and, ultimately, more than 200 people participated in the training.

The more financially stable an organization, the more resources they have available to fully realize their artistic vision. GDDF launched the Cash Reserve Challenge (CRC) grant program in Chicago as part of our Gen Ops Plus strategy to help eligible arts organizations launch or increase an existing cash reserve with a $25,000 matching grant. Such a reserve can be used to help manage cash flow, support a new initiative or weather a change in funding through temporary draws that are later replenished.

In the year since launching the CRC, we’ve learned that putting the pieces in place to create a cash reserve takes time. By bringing in resources like the GIA workshop, we’re helping organizations all along the spectrum—from those that are hearing about cash reserves for the first time to those who already have some reserves in place—map out next steps to improve and ensure their financial stability. Stay tuned for continued conversations about this important topic.

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