Georgia-Pacific Foundation: Grants for Theater

OVERVIEW: The Georgia-Pacific Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the U.S.-based papermaking company, has a directive to “improve life in the communities where we live and work.” It seeks this improvement by giving in four areas: Education, the environment, community enrichment and entrepreneurship.

IP TAKE: While funding theater—and the arts in general—isn't the primary financial commitment made by this foundation, it does do so, under the general umbrella of its commitment to community enrichment. So be sure to frame your theater program as an integrated part of your community's identity and betterment.

PROFILE: The Georgia-Pacific Foundation was established in 1958 by the papermaking and manufacturing company now headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The foundation views itself as a community-based philanthropic funder, and focuses on four areas of “investment”: Education, Environment, Enrichment and Entrepreneurship.

Not surprisingly, the foundation's support of theater flows through its Enrichment umbrella. The catch is that it's a pretty large umbrella, including affordable housing, public safety, and youth development, in addition to the theater qualifier of "arts and culture." So your competition for this pot might be broader than it is for other theater funders.

On the upside, the Georgia-Pacific Foundation's funding always comes as general operating support, which is rare among its peers. But even though it generalizes its funding, this foundation has rigorous expectations for your theater program's impact, with an application that asks you to discuss how you will be able to tangibly measure improvement in the community you serve as a result of it. Rest assured, the foundation has a lofty vision of purpose, too (it likes to use the word “potential”) so do not be deterred from pitching a project that aspires as much as it provides measurable, results-oriented outcomes—just be sure not to forsake the latter.

In terms of those communities the Georgia-Pacific Foundation is looking to enrich: your theater program must be located within 30 miles of one of Georgia-Pacific’s facilities. The company has a presence in 32 states, with multiple locations in many (10 in Texas, nine in Oregon, seven in California, four in Virginia, and four in Michigan, for example) so this geographic restriction still allows for a lot of eligibility for a foundation grant.

The Georgia-Pacific Foundation places no strict parameters on grant amounts, instead stating "when deciding what or if we will contribute, we consider the value of the program to our communities and the amount we have available to donate." But you will be required to put a specific ask amount into your application. For arts and culture giving, the basic range is $1,000 to $10,000 (with outliers on both sides).

Recent theater grantees include:

The Georgia-Pacific Foundation has an open application process with a recently revised application. It's a rolling application, and the foundation states you'll receive notification within 60 days.


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