The following Q&A with project management veteran Tom Gilb – known today as “Grandfather of the Agile movement,” has direct application to the world of arts funding, particularly as outcomes-based management  is catching on among grantmakers and showing up in their reporting requirements.   A statement he makes validates my assumption that there needs to be a shift from “grantwriting” per se to more of a project management-driven approach in an age of increased competition for project-based contributed income:

“So that is my lesson to stakeholders and project funders. Demand clear, quantified objectives before happily dispensing money.”

Recent publications such as Mario Morino’s Leap of Reason make clear the connections between big thinking, fundability, creativity and survival in the coming years in the nonprofit sector.  So in that spirit, here are some questions for arts managers to consider.

  • At any given point, could a funder walk up to someone working in your box office or classroom or studio and say “tell me what you’re trying to accomplish this season with my money” ?
  • Have you integrated aspects of project management into your grantwriter’s set of responsibilities?
  • Is your grantwriter considered the “spinmaster” in your organization?
  • Do some of your staff seem resentful of having to “kowtow to funders”?
  • Are grantwriters included in long-range programming and brainstorming meetings?
  • Are programming staff assigned to write portions of your final reports?

The arts should stay ahead of this curve – it’s where we belong!