The Arts and Culture Loan Fund is a program designed to help small- and medium-sized arts and culture organizations in Chicago to manage uneven cash flows and strengthen financial capacity. The program includes not only access to an operating line of credit, but also financial management workshops, customized coaching, and technical assistance on financial projects.
The program is funded by the MacArthur Foundation and administered by IFF in partnership with BDO FMA LLC (formerly Fiscal Management Associates).
In order to support arts organizations navigating unexpected financial troubles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily expanded our eligibility guidelines for organizations and have moved workshops and coaching to virtual platforms. Scroll down to learn more about these offerings.
Why is financial management important for arts and culture organizations?
Arts and culture play an integral role in modeling perspectives and enriching lives in communities. However, for many arts organizations, access to funding, financing, and financial management resources necessary to sustain arts-based programming can be difficult to find. After completing the program, our goal is that organizations are able to:
- Have access to an operating line of credit to meet their organization’s short-term fiscal needs
- Deeply understand financial management tools and organizational budget cycles
- Build an institutional credit history, in order to continue creating relationships for future financial needs
“For those of us who run smaller nonprofits, we don’t have the luxury of having someone with an accounting background on our team. Often times, financial forecasting can be very abstract. It feels like a huge leap for a nonprofit that relies on donations – not sales of a product – to have any kind of debt. But these classes were phenomenal and, believe it or not, fun. The environment was friendly and enabled participants to learn from one another. Additionally, it was important and helpful that we used CAC’s real numbers. The training prepared us to take out a line of credit and pay it back.”
– Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) Executive Director Caroline Older
What’s included in the program — and how do I apply?
Program participants have the option of tapping into the following powerful resources singly or in combination with one another, depending on their organizations’ specific needs:
1. Operating Loans
Operating lines of credit are a useful tool to help nonprofit arts organizations manage the uneven cash flows stemming from factors like the timing of production costs, ticket sales, and grant and government revenue. Loans are offered by program administrator IFF and program partner Fifth Third Bank, ranging in size from $10,000 to $150,000. We also have expanded eligibility and loan terms in response to COVID-19, which is detailed below.
How to apply: Start by emailing ten.enilnoamf@dnufnaol to let us know you’re interested, and one of our partners at FMA will get right back to you.
2. Free Workshop Series & Customized Coaching
Financial experts from program partner BDO FMA LLC (formerly Fiscal Management Associates) deliver a series of intensive workshops on mission-critical topics like financial planning and monitoring, interspersed with customized coaching, over the course of four months. Topics covered including financial planning, financial monitoring, and fiscal operations.
How to apply: Applications are now closed. Please check back for the next opportunity.
3. Free Technical Assistance Projects
FMA also takes on financial projects — from writing policies and procedures manuals, to customizing your Chart of Accounts to maximize reporting — that arts leaders haven’t had the time or expertise to do themselves.
How to apply: Applications are now closed. Please check back for the next opportunity. If you applied before the December 31, 2020 deadline, someone from FMA will be in touch with you in early 2021 to let you know if you’ve been selected for a grant.
Our COVID-19 Emergency Response
We recognize that arts and culture organizations are sill being impacted by the pandemic. As part of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Program, interest on loans will now be forgiven through December 31, 2021, for both new and existing customers.
Check out these helpful links to get your organization started in financial management:
- Sustaining Long-Term Financial Health with Liquid Unrestricted Net Assets (LUNA)
- How to Set a Budget
- Monitoring Your Organization’s Performance
- Creating a Policies & Procedures Manual