Macy's Inc. Might Be Worth a Shot for Your Film Organization

Macy’s Inc. makes substantial and widespread contributions in the area of arts and culture, with theater, music, visual arts (especially museums), and dance (especially ballet) at the forefront of that giving.

But mixed into Macy's Inc. giving for its 2013 fiscal year are a handful of signficant contributions in the realm of film:

Both by volume and by dollars, this is a drop in the bucket for Macy's giving. But it's there, which means you too can reach out and grab it.

Macy’s Inc. (which these days, due to corporate consolidation, includes Blooomingdales department stores) gives both through a formal foundation (the Macy’s Foundation) and through the company itself (a program called My Macy’s District Grants).

In some ways the foundation versus corporation giving is a moot point, because both sides have the same five areas of philanthropic focus: Arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS and “women’s issues” (with primary focus on women’s health and domestic violence). Of course you’re reading this in order to find money for your film program, but it’s always useful to keep these other giving priorities in mind; if your program or organization intersects with additional areas of Macy’s focus, that can only be value-added.

The distinction between the Macy's Foundation and My Macy's District Grants (the corporate side) is the playing field. The foundation only supports national-level programming (which those major film festivals might be considered) and is an invite-only granting process. By contrast, the My Macy’s District Grants program is focused on giving at a local level and has an open application process. So if your film program is more regional or community in scope, there is an opportunity for you here.

Other corporate grantors speak often to their support of arts and culture in terms of audience outreach, diversity of storytelling and performers, and commitment to community; Macy’s, by contrast, doesn’t address any social contract at all, nor does it delve into what it looks for aesthetically from its arts and culture grantees.

That said, a corporation is looking to positively impact community—that’s why it grants at a community level. So if your film organization promotes audience development and community engagement, you’re coming out ahead. It’s also safe to presume that Macy’s is looking to support organizations that have a track record of success in the multiple ways you could define success within the arts. And it’s a requirement that your film organization is a 501(c)(3) that operates in operates or is engaged with a community in which Macy’s and/or Bloomingdales has a presence.

It's also worth noting that Macy's has a hearty Employee Matching Gifts Program. "Arts/cultural institutions" is one of six eligible areas, and the company will match employee gifts from $50 to $20,000. In the 2013 fiscal year, the San Francisco Film Society and the Center for Asian American Media (which operates a well-regarded regional film festival and signficant film programming) were both beneficiaries of this program. So let this also serve as a reminder that when it comes to audience outreach and donor development, targeting employee populations where there are good corporate matching gift programs can be an excellent strategy.

Related - Macy's Inc: Grants for Theater