Nonprofit Leadership

(Ford Foundation President Darren Walker)

In an extraordinary act of collaboration, five of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States have banded together to launch a fund in support of arts nonprofits facing financial strain in the midst of the global economic recession.

The foundations include:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The Ford Foundation
The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Ford Foundation—which is leading the effort—has pledged a staggering $1 billion for the fund, and plans to manage such a feat by selling bonds. Some of the other foundations plan on following suit, using debt-financing to build up resources.

The arts sector has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered performing arts venues and museums that provide vital resources and exposure to arts and culture nonprofits. Regional foundations have collaborated with city governments to launch a variety of arts relief funds around the country. In Philadelphia, the city teamed up with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund to launch The COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund, which has distributed millions of dollars to area nonprofits.

While the economic forecast for the nonprofit sector and the entire nation is grim, some nonprofit leaders are hopeful that bold and swift action can prevent the worst from happening. Discussing the unprecedented scope of the joint funding effort, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker said: “This is a story of something that doesn’t happen enough in philanthropy: collaboration. I don’t think there’s been a greater day for American philanthropy than today.”

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