Materials for preparing a Rocket Grants Budget for a 2019 application are available here.
Q: Does volunteer labor count as an in-kind donation?
A: A general guideline might be that if it is a task that you would ordinarily have to pay people for, then volunteer labor could be an in-kind donation. If the volunteers are collaborating artists, they should be covered in the artist’s fee. Often though, volunteers are considered in the same way as an “unpaid intern” would be, because they could be seen to be learning or benefiting from the opportunity in some other way.
Q: Can in-kind donations be given by anyone, including the person doing the project/applying for the grant? I’m not sure where to put some of my services and equipment I use, including a portion of studio costs, mileage to and from each site, computer + equipment, etc. What do you suggest?
A: Your own creative time should come under artist’s fees. For really labor-intensive work, you might be able to justify a higher proportion of the award money going to such fees. Items such as studio rental, equipment rental etc., should really be listed under production costs. If there were some kind of manufacturing process that you could shop out to someone else but you will be doing yourself, it is reasonable to budget a sum for what it would cost in a professional workshop. It could therefore be balanced in income as “service performed by artist”. You can also show dollar income as a “personal contribution” in order to balance your budget, though as a professional artist it is wise to consider either trimming your project or seeking other sources of income.
Q: Do we have to apply for the whole $6,000 to be considered for a grant?
A: No. Your budget should be honestly and carefully constructed to reflect your real needs. The selection panel will review budgets carefully, and if yours appears to be unconsidered or over-inflated, this will harm your prospects of receiving an award. Only ask for the amount that will make your project feasible, allowing a small cushion for unexpected contingencies. Please note that the $2,000 Research & Development Award option allows you to spread out your income and work over two years, which may be helpful for complex projects that require a great deal of preparation.
Q: Can the funds be split between all the artists in the project by writing multiple checks? If all the money goes to one person, won’t they have to pay taxes on this as income?
A: Award income is taxable, and we only make a single check out to the lead artist. We do offer an option to receive the award funds in January of 2020 rather than May of 2019 if the majority of expenses for your project will be happening next year. We encourage you to consult a tax professional, and Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts offer a free consultation service. As a professional artist you should consider filing a Schedule C to write off project expenses against taxable income. Long-term artist collaborations can also form an entity such as an LLC to split income and tax liability between all members.