Foundation grants are an important lifeline for music programs, music organizations, and musicians. However, performing arts grants are the most competitive despite being plentiful. Competitors often represent world-renowned musical programs, such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While larger foundations fund smaller musical programs, less established organizations must work harder to get noticed alongside musical giants.
We stay abreast of the latest news from music funders. Everything we learn is reflected in this guide, which we regularly update and to which we add new funders.
The 3M Foundation funds a diversity of music organizations including jazz ensembles, orchestras, and symphonies.
While the primary focus of grantmaking is jazz, the foundation also awards grants to support mid-career artists working within the music industry.
Ameriprise Financial’s philanthropic giving focuses on opportunities to support and improve U.S. communities. Performing arts support aligns with the corporation's emphasis on “cultural enrichment.”
The foundation primarily funds presenting organizations, which must be in the Midwest. But Arts Midwest backs efforts to bring musicians from anywhere in the world.
This foundation’s grantmaking philosophy includes support of education and talent development programs.
Ayrshire's music grants are awarded through its Community Culture program.
This foundation focuses exclusively on music education programs. It prioritizes organizations located in New York and New Jersey, but it does not strictly limit its grantmaking to those two states.
The philanthropic arm of the consumer electronics retail giant funds hands-on educational programs that build technology skills among teens age 13 to 18. It supports programs across the arts.
BMI awards annual grants to nonprofit music organizations. Musical efforts supported include, “classical music groups specializing in contemporary works," and organizations working toward the preservation of American forms like jazz and blues.
BNSF largely funds local and regional orchestras and symphonies, but also supports organizations from across the United States.
The Bohemian Foundation has a comprehensive musical grant initiative, but mainly supports organizations within the Greater Fort Collins area in northern Colorado.
This recently established annual monetary prize backs individuals and organizations that use music to promote a more civil and just society. Named for a German-born musician who opposed the Nazi regime.
Serves ensemble music professionals. Grants support composition and encourage connections between chamber musicians and presenting organizations.
The Colburn Foundation supports the classical music community, mostly in the Los Angeles area and Greater Southern California.
The Aaron Copland Fund for Music supports contemporary American music. The fund has three grant programs including Performing Ensembles, Recording, and the Supplemental Program. Grant application deadlines are different for each program.
Awarding grants to both singers and musicians, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is one of the largest arts grantmakers in the U.S. An important note—the foundation does have a deep and abiding love for jazz music, just like Ms. Duke herself.
This law firm funder supports arts organizations, including music programs, in the many areas where the firm has locations. It also has an open application process.
The foundation was created upon the death of famed music publisher Max Dreyfus, who worked with American greats like George Gershwin and Cole Porter. It provides smaller grants that can make a big difference.
Ecolab is committed to supporting the communities in which it has a corporate presence. Its foundation sees performing arts, including music, as an important component of its community involvement.
Entergy invests in local music companies and organizations.
Fender invests in school, local, and national music programs across the country. The foundation also offers support for music therapy programs.
This corporate foundation makes arts and culture, including music, a primary focus of its philanthropic pursuits. In line with its corporate ethos, it takes a rigorous business model approach to the projects it funds, even in this realm.
If you’re operating in a community that receives FirstEnergy services (and it’s a healthy list), the FirstEnergy Foundation is an avid supporter of music organizations and programming.
This funder makes substantial investments in arts and culture throughout the U.S., and this includes music. But the foundation doesn't accept unsolicited proposals.
The FCA, founded by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, is open-minded about the work it supports and so may be a good resource for artists some consider controversial.
Philanthropic arm of the large paper manufacturer makes music-related grants through its community enrichment program; unique in that all giving funds general operating support.
There isn’t a whole lot of information available on the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. But the foundation gives a significant amount of money to theater companies, and has a strong affinity for musical theater.
In a bit of a break from the norm, Green Music Group awards grants to artists big and small who want to go green. Green Music Group is a part of the larger charitable foundation Reverb.
This funder's focus on culture includes a substantial commitment to music. Support emphasizes artist development and outreach into underserved communities. Only well-established arts organizations are eligible.
The Heller foundation's music grantmaking go to symphonic and chamber music programs. Grants go nationwide but preference is given to California-based groups.
The Knight Foundation's grantmaking includes multiple genres including jazz, opera, global and symphonic. Knight does give special consideration to 26 cities in the United States, but it makes national grants, as well.
Jubilation funds individuals and organizations that help young people express themselves through music and dance.
Founded in 1986, the Kovner Foundation is run by billionaire Bruce Kovner and his wife Suzie. The couple is deeply passionate about music and has given out big money to select New York music institutions for years.
The Kresge Foundation is famously in love with the idea of rebuilding Detroit. Which is good, because Detroit needs help—the city is broke. Detroit isn't Kresge's only interest, though.
Some of Macy's giving for arts, including music, happens through the foundation, but much more is funded directly by the corporation.
A major funder for the performing arts. Offers multi-year grants to leading symphonies and orchestras in music, and to top dance and theater organizations.
Music performance, engagement, and legacy are among this funder’s priorities—especially jazz—primarily through its support of presenting organizations.
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation makes grants to musical programs in schools. The foundation also donates musical instruments to schools in need. Mr. Holland’s Opus does not award grants for individual music lessons, events, concerts or festivals.
Music Drives Us grantmaking funds music education, preservation and awareness. The foundation likes to support education and awareness programs that focus on young children.
A good chunk of this funder's music grants go to organizations in and around Chicago, but Los Angeles is another site of philanthropy.
Supports presenting organizations throughout its region that showcase musicians from the U.S. and beyond. The foundation encourages these organizations to seek new and interesting musicians to bring into their communities.
New Music USA supports composers, ensembles, live music for dance orchestras, and much more.
The Opera Foundation supports young American opera singers by sending them to study with select European opera companies. It supports four scholarships each year.
Paul R. Judy Center for Applied Research funds innovative ensembles that explore new models of operation.
The Sparkplug Foundation funds music development and projects that “launch new voices and ideas.”
SpreadMusicNow supports nonprofit organizations that expand access to music education, build awareness and support for music and arts education, and strengthen the nonprofit and music educations sectors.
Sprint's music grants typically fund smaller organizations; however, it still supports organizations from across the United States.
This funder emphasizes the arts and funding for music—particularly performance.
United States Artists gives unrestricted $50,000 grants directly to creative artists each year. Support for music is a significant part of this giving, but competition is stiff.
This is a significant grantor of music organizations, particularly performance groups, in 25 states. It gives grants through its arts and culture program, viewing this support as part of a larger context of community development and uplift.
Supports performance, scholarship and professional development related to the work and lives of Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya and Marc Blitzstein.
The foundation gives grants in 44 states, and arts and culture are high on the grantmaking agenda, with a strong emphasis on music.
Grants primarily fund presenting organizations, and those must be in the West. But the artists who perform can hail from anywhere in the country—and music is at the forefront.
The Bill and Ann Ziff Foundation focuses its grantmaking in opera, symphonies, and music education and advocacy. Most of its giving is in New York.
Other Notable Funders
Many foundations focus their grantmaking in specific state or local areas. But that doesn't mean they don't write big grant checks, so they definitely deserve a mention.
New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA): Focuses its grantmaking on the six New England States (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire), the NEFA music grants range in the hundreds and thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands.
Ayshire Foundation: The foundation sees “community culture” as a vital aspect of positive change, and music as a core element of community culture. But it only gives within specific geographic areas.
James Irvine Foundation –This foundation is one of the largest arts funders in California. Once focusing specifically on the Bay Area, the Irvine Foundation has spread its grantmaking to include all of California.
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awards grants to performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area and that focus is huge.
San Francisco Foundation: The foundation's Arts and Culture program focuses on small and mid-sized organizations with annual operating budgets of between $100,000 and $2 million located in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco or San Mateo Counties.
Colburn Foundation: Focusing on Southern California, Colburn emphasizes opera, chamber orchestras and symphonies. Give the grant application guidelines a peek if you live in Southern California.
Bloomberg Philanthropies: Bloomberg Philanthropies awards millions to arts organizations in New York City every year.
New York Community Trust: The New York Community trust awards arts grants across all disciplines to mid-sized organizations. The trust accepts grant applications anytime, but only reviews them five times per year.
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation: Gives grants for operating costs and education programs to organizations either based in New Jersey or that contribute significantly to its local arts community.
James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation: This foundation awards around $3 million in performing arts grants in Oregon each year. Take a look at the foundation's application guidelines for more grantmaking information.
Heinz Endowment: The Heinz Foundation awards performance art grants to organizations in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
Grants for Individual Musicians
Grants for individual musicians are few and far between, but some foundations recognize a musician's need to ride solo. Here are a few links:
Grammy Foundation: Awards grants for those working in music preservation and archiving. The maximum grant award at the Grammy Foundation is $20,000.
BMI Foundation: Awards grants in every musical genre from classical to contemporary. Awards from BMI are more like competitive grants rather than outright awards.
Fender Music Foundation: This nonprofit music program provides instruments to education programs across the U.S., including other nonprofit organizations and public schools.