OVERVIEW: Philanthropy at Macy’s Inc. is directed toward arts and culture, education, the environment, HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and domestic violence. Grantmaking flows through the Macy’s Foundation for programs operating on a national scale, and through the corporation for local-level programming.
IP TAKE: Macy’s makes substantial and widespread contributions in the area of arts and culture; dance is a part of this grantmaking. Some of this happens through the foundation, but much more of it occurs through the corporation for local dance organizations—and this is a very good thing, because only the latter has an open application process.
PROFILE: Macy’s Inc., including Bloomingdales department stores, is a significant funder in the world of corporate philanthropy, both through a formal foundation (the Macy’s Foundation) and through the company itself (a program called My Macy's District Grants). Macy’s seeks to “help create stronger, healthier places for [their] customers and associates to work and live.” Both the foundation and the corporation 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).
Dance grant seekers should not ignore Macy’s other funding priorities as dance initiatives that intersect with additional funding areas will likely receive more attention.
The majority Macy’s dance funding supports ballet programs. (Whether this is because more ballet companies reach out to Macy’s or because Macy's actively prefers ballet companies is uncertain.) Grant seekers should also be aware that, ballet or otherwise, dance programs are more likely to garner support from the corporate side of Macy’s. Why? Because the corporate side, through the My Macy’s District Grants program, supports giving at a local level (which is where most dance happens). By contrast, the Macy’s Foundation only supports national-level programming and does not accept unsolicited requests; it’s invite-only.
The My Macy’s District Grants program was established in 2010. It funded $3.5 million in grants in 2015 and $1.5 million in 2016 to organizations across its five areas of focus. The My Macy’s District Grants not only give a lot, they give flexibly. Organizations can apply via either an “Event” application or a “Program” application. Both are useful for dance organizations. Macy’s defines the Event category to include performances, and the Program category is for “ongoing program or general operations support.”
Other corporate grantors speak often about their support of arts and culture in terms of audience outreach, diversity of storytelling and performers, and commitment to community; Macy’s, by contrast, does not 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 is why it grants at a community level. So dance projects that promote audience development and community engagement have an advantage. It is also safe to presume that Macy’s seeks to support dance organizations with a track record of success in the performing arts. Macy’s also only finds 501(c)(3) dance programs that operates in or are engaged with a community in which Macy’s and/or Bloomingdales has a presence.
Past grantees of both My Macy’s District Grants and the Macy’s Foundation include: $290,000 to Artswave (Cincinnati, OH); $77,677 to the New York City Ballet (New York, NY); $40,000 to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA); $25,000 to the Houston Ballet (Houston, TX); $25,000 to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.); $10,000 to the New York Theatre Ballet (New York, NY); $10,000 to Denver Center for the Performing Arts (Denver, CO); $8,625 to the American Ballet Theatre (New York, NY).
Grant applications for My Macy’s District Grants are accepted year round and are reviewed on a rolling basis. Granting made by the Macy’s Foundation is by invitation only.
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