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SC Arts Commission Grants Programs

Operating Support for Small Organizations (OSS) Grant Guidelines

What is an OSS grant?

Operating Support for Small Organizations (OSS) grants provide consistent, unrestricted support for basic operations to help strengthen arts organizations that bring ongoing arts experiences and services to individuals, communities, and other organizations throughout the state. The grant provides 12-month operating support for applicants ranging from emerging to established arts organizations with primary missions involving these artistic functions: producing, service, presenting, and/or education. This grant is unrestricted, which means grantees may use it for any general operating expense such as staff salaries, paying the electric bill, printing program, buying supplies, etc.


This grant is designed as a simple way for small arts organizations to apply for S. C. Arts Commission operating support funding.


Arts councils may also submit a separate application for subgranting of additional S.C. Arts Commission funds to local applicants. Please see Subgranting guidelines for details.

Who can apply?

Eligibility Requirements

Your organization may apply for this grant if it meets all of these requirements:

  1. has a primary mission focused on the arts
    serves as the primary arts provider in your community
  2. is either
    • a nonprofit community-based arts organization
      • currently registered with the S.C. Secretary of State's Office
      • reflecting S.C. as the primary address on all current official organizational documents
      • with federal tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service
        applying through a tax exempt fiscal agent/receiver organization (Note: New applicants who are applying through a fiscal agent/receiver will need to submit a letter that outlines the working relationship and responsibilities of both parties.)
    • a unit of local government
  3. has completed at least one fiscal year of programming
  4. had a total expense budget that does not exceed $75,000 for the last completed fiscal year
  5. has a valid DUNS number.
    In accordance with federal government policy, the S.C. Arts Commission requires all organizations to include a valid DUNS number as part of their grant applications. Applications will not be accepted from organizations that do not have a DUNS number. What's a DUNS number, and how do I get one?
    • If using a fiscal agent/receiver, separate DUNS numbers are required of both the applicant organization and the fiscal agent/receiver.
    • Individual schools may use their school district's DUNS number and do not need to register separately.
    • All other organization applicants, including private schools, must provide a DUNS number.
    • Individual artists are not required to obtain a DUNS number.


  • Organizations receiving Operating Support for Small Organizations may not apply for Quarterly Project Support (except for requests for staff professional development or cultural district related activities).
  • Organizations with annual expense budgets of $75,000 or less may apply for General Operating Support (GOS) or Operating Support for Small Organizations (OSS), but not both.

When is the deadline (and other important dates)?

Important dates for FY19 OSS applicants:

  • Early December 2017 – online application becomes available
  • February 1, 2018 – application deadline
  • April 12, 2018 – grant panel review
  • July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 – grant period (fiscal year)
  • December 1, 2018 – first grant payment request due
  • August 15, 2019 – Final Report due

Grant Period

July 1-June 30 (fiscal year). Grants are awarded on 1-year cycle of approval. Read the Final Report section for details.

How much funding is available?


Up to $2500 annually. Grant awards will be based on application reviews and the availability of funds.


A minimum of 2:1 (grantee:SCAC) cash match is required. Each dollar awarded must be matched with $2 cash. No in-kind expenses are allowed as part of the applicant’s match in this category.

How do I apply?

The online application is opened by early December of each year for the upcoming deadline. Applications must be submitted via the Online Grants Management System on February 1, 2018. Applications may be submitted online until midnight (EST) on the deadline date. However, please be aware that staff members will not be available to assist you with questions or technical difficulties after the Arts Commission closes at 5:00 p.m. on the deadline day. Late applications cannot be accepted. Online submissions will be blocked after the deadline.

Using the Online Grants Management System

We strongly advise you to review the FAQ and Tutorial page before your first visit to the site. We also recommend you keep the FAQ/Tips page open in a separate browser window, and/or print a hard copy, for reference as you work.


Returning OSS grantees will need their assigned username and password; new applicants will need to register.

New Applicants

  1. Create an online grants management account for your organization.
    • In the first registration section, labeled Applicant Information, provide your organization’s information (name, address, phone, etc.), not your personal information.
    • In the next registration section, labeled User Information, provide your work contact information (organization address, email, etc.), not your home or personal information.

    We strongly encourage you to view the Registration Tutorial (PDF) before attempting to create an account.

Helpful Hint:

Your email address becomes your username, so each user account must have a unique email address. If you need to use the same email address to manage grants for more than one organization, we suggest:

  • Set up an email account for each of the organizations on whose behalf you'll be applying. This may be an account within the organization's own email system, or an account with one of the many free email providers (such as Gmail).
  • Create an online grants management account for each organization, using the email address(es) you've set up for that purpose.
  • If you'd rather not have to check multiple email accounts to get communications from us (email is our primary method of correspondence), set up the new email account(s) to automatically forward incoming messages to your main email address.

New Applicants & Returning Grantees

  1. Once you are logged on, look for "FY19 Operating Support for Small Organizations (OSS) Grants" in the list of available applications. Click the "Apply" button to the far right.

Helpful Hint:

To ensure your OSS application is connected to the correct primary contact person, that person should be the one to log on and start the OSS application.
The primary contact person for this grant should be the person who will:

  1. manage this grant's activities, and
  2. receive and respond to communications from the Arts Commission about this grant.

Submitting Your Application

After all sections of your application have been completed, you will submit the application electronically. The application will not submit unless all required questions are answered. When you submit your application, you will receive confirmation acknowledging that your online application was received.

What you DON'T need to submit

  • Do not submit additional support materials. However, please be aware that panelists may review your website.
  • Do not submit an application narrative or cover letter.
  • Do not submit a printed copy of your application. It is recommended, however, that you print and keep a hard copy of the application for your records.

NOTE: In accordance with the S.C. Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, charitable organizations must maintain current registration with the S.C. Secretary of State's Office. The S.C. Arts Commission does not require a copy of an applicant's current S.C. Charities registration letter; however, failure to register and renew the registration annually may result in severe fines by the S.C. Secretary of State's Office.

What are the application components and criteria?

Application Components, Review Criteria and Weightings:

Section 1 - Programs and Services; as they relate to the organization's mission (40 points)
Section 2 - Public Participation (25 points)
Section 3 - Organizational Health (35 points)


You may complete the application in phases. For many questions, you will simply pick the appropriate response from a checklist. No full narrative is required.


Section 1 - Programs and Services, as they relate to the organization's mission (40 points)

An organization that receives a high score on this section will offer programs and services that are:

  • closely aligned with its mission, and
  • appropriate for the people, organization, and communities for whom they are intended.


Section 2 - Public Participation (25 points)

An organization that receives a high score on this section will:

  • show a clear understanding of how people participate (e.g. students, member artists, performers, audience, etc.) and
  • have appropriate and attainable goals for the future.


Section 3 - Organizational Health (35 points)

An organization that receives a high score on this section will:

  • have appropriate governance, management and staffing to accomplish its practical and artistic goals, and
  • show evidence of financial health and capacity to responsibly carry out the work of the organization.

Helpful Hint for Completing the Operating Budget Spreadsheet

New Applicants

Report your last completed fiscal year’s Income and Expense budget.

  • State Fiscal year: July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017
  • Federal Fiscal Year: October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017
  • Calendar Fiscal Year: January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016

Returning Applicants

For S.C. Arts Commission operating support grants:

  • General Operating Support (GOS)
  • Operating Support for Small Organizations (OSS)
  • Statewide Operating Support (SWO)

Report fiscal year Income and Expense budget from your submitted FY17 Final Report. (Note: If you have discovered that the figures you gave in that final report were incorrect, please contact your coordinator about submitting a corrected FY2017 final report budget.)


What happens after I apply?

Review Process

Staff will review applications for eligibility, conformity to guidelines, and clarity of information provided. The review panel, composed of arts administrators, artists, educators and community leaders, from within and outside S.C., reviews and rates applications on the basis of criteria listed in the guidelines (above). The panel review sessions are open to the public. Staff will develop funding recommendations based on the panel ratings for the S.C. Arts Commission Board of Commissioners, which makes final award decisions.

Panel Review

Applicants will receive an email and panel schedule prior to the panel meeting. We encourage you to attend the meeting, but attendance is not required. An applicant’s merit rating and panel comments are available upon request.

What are my responsibilities if I receive a grant?

If your application is approved, you will receive notification via email. You must sign and return all required contracts to the S.C. Arts Commission by the date listed. You must also complete a Final Report by the date stated in your contract. You will be expected to contact your S.C. Arts Commission coordinator if for any reason your proposal will undergo significant revisions.

Final Report

ALL GRANTEES are required to file a Final Report at the end of the grant period. The Final Report Due Date is printed on your contract. Failure to submit an accurate and complete Final Report by the due date will result in cancellation of the award and repayment of funds received. The S.C. Arts Commission will not fund applicants who have outstanding Final Reports. Go to the Final Report requirements >>


In addition, failure to file a complete OSS Final Report by the due date will result in a reduction of 15% to your next Operating Support award.

How do I get paid?

Payment will be on a reimbursement basis only. Up to two interim payments may be requested during the grant period. An accurate Grants Payment Request Form, listing only expenses allowable under the program guidelines for the certified time period, must be submitted in order to receive payment for the grant award. Your first grant payment request must be submitted by December 1.

Need help?

Your county coordinator is your contact person and resource for your SCAC grant activities. If you have questions, problems, or otherwise need assistance regarding any aspect of these guidelines or your application (e.g. technical difficulties, interpretation of guidelines, etc.), please contact your county coordinator.



In addition to this page, you must read the following for complete guideline information:

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