Funding Rights And Accurate Program Costs And Bears. Oh My!

Joe Patti recently published a terrific pair of articles from his Info you Can Use series that are well worth your time. Know Your Funding Rights examines a nonprofit’s right to apply overhead expenses to program costs for grant applications and his follow-up post, Figuring Out True Program Cost, is geared toward helping groups get back into the habit of generating accurate expense reports for grant applications (hint: the key word there was “back”).

Adaptistration People 017Although most grant makers have always been prickly about allocating funds to overhead, they’ve been particularly adamant about it over the past decade. As a result, many nonprofits (including those in the performing arts) have had to fudge program expenses when making grant applications.

In short, the grant making community has indirectly (or directly depending on your perspective) contributed to decades of performing arts orgs cooking their books; perhaps that’s a strong phrase, but there’s certainly a good bit of blanching, broiling, and braising going on.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has almost certainly had an adverse impact on contributing to secrecy within an already transparency adverse field so I strongly recommend not only setting aside time for both of Patti’s articles but be sure to share them with colleagues and board members.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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