OVERVIEW: Wells Fargo Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the banking and financial services company. The foundation supports a wide range of needs, including education, housing, community development, the environment, and arts and culture. Specific focuses and agendas vary by state and region.
IP TAKE: Functionally speaking, Wells Fargo Foundation’s giving—and the agendas therein—is subdivided by state, and sometimes also by regions within those states. Of the 44 states where the foundation gives, the vast majority of them place arts and culture giving squarely on the agenda, with theater a major player within this realm.
PROFILE: Wells Fargo Foundation, the philanthropic offshoot of the big banking and financial services institution, recently granted $281.3 million to 16,300 nonprofits and schools nationwide.
When Wells Fargo Foundation is giving you that number, what it’s really doing is adding up the giving across the 44 states (plus the District of Columbia) included in its Community Investment program. Thirty-eight of those states give grants in the arts and culture realm.
This is the point where you’ll want to know if your state is one of those 38. There’s a map on the program’s website that will help you find that out.
On the Well Fargo Foundation website, each state and region is given the opportunity to articulate the focus of their arts and culture giving. The most popular directive is that arts organizations work to enhance “community diversity” by creating work that reflects its specific community’s diversity, and by providing access and participation for “low- and moderate-income individuals.”
The other popular directives amongst the states is to support arts and culture initiatives that “enhance a community's quality of life” and those that make “communities strong, diverse, and vibrant.”
If the key word isn’t obvious to you yet, it’s community. Create to reflect it and create for it. Unlike many other corporate-based funders, Wells Fargo Foundation is far more likely to support a city or town’s community dance organization (particularly those that are performance-based) than one that’s already in the national spotlight.
Like it is for many corporate funders of dance, ballet is a big recipient of Wells Fargo Foundation's dance granting, but if your dance performance organization isn't pointe shoe-oriented, there are still opportunities for you with Wells Fargo Foundation.
Wells Fargo Foundation also likes giving to city and community arts centers and councils, many of which incorporate dance into venues and agendas. Again, remember that this is a sliver of the foundation's aggregate dance giving. Each state/region makes its own grant selections.
Grant selections are made by state and the region, and each area has its own application process. Most are executed online, but some states require a paper proposal that you bring over to your nearest Wells Fargo location. Each area has its own page on the website that lists FAQs, contact information, and deadlines.
- Tim Hanlon, President